When most people think of visiting National Parks, Yellowstone, Glacier, or “The Mighty 5” in Utah may come to mind, but did you know there is a National Park in Texas? Yes…Texas! Big Bend National Park is one of the largest National Parks in the US, located in southwest Texas among the Chihuahuan Desert. It encompasses 801,163 acres of complete wilderness including the Chisos mountain range, scenic drives, desert wildlife, and even hot springs.
Since the beginning of our journey, one of our goals has been to visit every National Park in the US and to see as many other Nationally preserved areas (National Monuments, battlefields, historic parks, and sites, etc.) as we could. Currently, there are 61 National Parks protected by the National Park System and are approximately 419 other protected areas. Big Bend National Park was the first park we visited, and these are our top tips for visiting Big Bend National Park.
Where To Stay When Visiting Big Bend National Park
There are several RV campgrounds located within Big Bend National Park; however, space is limited, and most only have electric and water hookups. Also, Big Bend Ranch State Park is located right outside of the National Park. We chose to stay at a privately owned park located 20 miles outside of Big Bend. Maverick Ranch RV Park At Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa is centrally located between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Maverick Ranch RV Park Benefits
- Offers 100 (61 pull-through) sites.
- The sites are large and easy to access.
- Campers have access to the spa, golf club, horseback riding, and clay shooting.
- Features several hiking and biking trails nearby.
There was little to no cell connectivity at the park, but who needs cell service when you can enjoy millions of stars in the night sky.
Top Sights In Big Bend National Park
Old Maverick Road & Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
We spent several days exploring, drove the scenic Old Maverick Road (you will need 4 wheel drive) and Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
Santa Elena Canyon
The Santa Elena Canyon hike is 1.5 miles round trip. It follows the Rio Grande River through the steep canyon walls. You can follow the trail through the river plant growth and cool canyon rock to the water’s edge. Throughout the year, you will see many kayakers and rafters making their way down the Rio Grande River. This hike was one of the highlights of the trip giving us fantastic views of the Rio Grande.
Emory Peak is the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains with an elevation of about 7800 feet. The peak trail is about 1.5 miles; however, to get to the trail, you must first cross 3.5 miles on the Pinnacles Trail. The trail is rugged, but well defined making it a moderate class hike for those who make the trip.
Lost Mine Trail
Lost Mine Trail is located right outside of Big Bend National Park. The trail is about 4 miles in length and is a very popular hiking trail. Throughout the hike, there are tons of desert plants and wildlife including several species of birds. It, also, features spectacular views of the Casa Grande, Juniper, and Pine Canyon.
South Rim Trail
The South Rim Trail is classified as a strenuous/difficult hike that is popular with backcountry hikers. It is a 13-mile loop that features stunning views of the Chihuahuan Desert. The hike can be done in one day, but many choose to stay overnight along the trail at one of the backcountry campsites. Be sure to bring lots of water on this hike; the temperatures tend to be quite high.
Be sure to check out, Rocky Mountain National Park! This is another AMAZING National Park to visit!