Big Bend is a region in West Texas that borders Mexico. The Big Bend National Park is located here and covers over 800,000 acres. Because it is such a vast park I suggest spending at least 2-3 days to visit this National Park. We stayed 3 nights in the area and visited the park over 3 days. We hit all of the park highlights across those 3 days.
This National Park is home to an assortment of Canyons, the Rio Grande River, desert lands, hot springs, mountain ranges, and more. Each region of the park is unique, which is why you need several days to explore this National Park.
What makes this National Park so interesting is the history. They have dug up a wide assortment of dinosaur bones within this National Park. I enjoyed visiting their new fossil exhibit that was just opened this past January (2017). Visiting this National Park is like going back in time, not just to the early 1900’s or late 1800’s, but back to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Much of this Park has never been touched. It is has been highly protected and human habitation has been limited. Seeing the kinds of enormous dinosaurs they have unearthed here is impressive.
This National Park is also home to an assortment of Canyons, the Rio Grande River, desert lands, hot springs, mountain ranges, and more. Each region of the park is unique, which is why you need several days to explore this National Park.
Below are photos of some of the areas we visited, that I recommend you see during your visit.
Santa Elena Canyon
This canyon has a great hike located within in the canyon itself and a path has been carved out of the canyon wall. It is considered an easy hike, but be sure to hold the hands of your children. There are steep drop offs on the Santa Elena Canyon hike, so don’t let your kids run ahead or fool around during the hike on the cliff. Here are photos of our visit to Santa Elena Canyon and the hike which is 2.6 miles round trip.
The dinosaur fossil exhibit is new to the park and was completed in January of this year (2017). It is a great exhibit and shows many of the largest and most exotic dinosaurs that were dug up in Big Bend. If your kids love dinosaurs this place it too cool for words!
Chisos Basin and The Window
This area was my favorite part of Big Bend National Park. The scenery changes from desert to a mountain area with green trees. It was much cooler in this area, about a twenty degree difference from the desert area. They have lots of hiking trails that start right behind the Chisos Basis store building. One of those trails is the Windows and the Window View. We did the Window View which was less than a half a mile, but provides great views from a bluff area.
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
This scenic drive was beautiful. We could see the Mule Ears Peak while on this drive too. There were several spots to pull over to appreciate the views and take some photos of the interesting and unique landscape. There are some great hikes off this road as well, such as the Mule Ears Spring, which is around 6 miles round trip.
Rio Grande Village and Boquillas Canyon
This is the far East side of the park where the RV camping is located. You can also get a great view of the Rio Grande here when you drive up to Boquillas Canyon. You will have 180 degree views of the River and Mexico on the other side. You can even travel by boat to Mexico via the official Boquillas crossing, but you need your passport.
Camping within the National Park gets booked months in advance (for campers and RVs). If you are planning a visit, then book your spot at the Rio Grande Village Campground many months in advance, especially during high season which is Thanksgiving and Christmas school break times. Even though it was considered high season at Big Bend during our visit, it was not crowded. We never waiting in line for parking, bathrooms, or to see an exhibit. Having been to other National Parks like Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, and Sequoia the high season at Big Bend is desolate by comparison. It probably helps that the park is so vast and features to visit are spread out. It is so remote that our cell phones got little to no reception during the past 4 days. If you are looking to disconnect for a while, Big Bend is the place to go!
We camped at Maverick Ranch RV Park in Laquitas, TX. It is just outside the Park (approximately 20 miles). I did my research to find the nicest place we could camp in the area, since we couldn’t get into the National Park campsite. The Maverick Ranch is affiliated with the Laquitas Golf Club which also has a spa. We didn’t use any of those ammenties, since we spent all of our time in the National Park. Maverick Ranch is great and I would recommend it to others as it was located in a beautiful spot surrounded by tall bluffs, it was safe, they had laundry facilities, a pool, the people were very friendly, and a nice general store was less than a half a mile away. It can be difficult to get supplies of any kind out in Big Bend, so I recommend planning ahead for all your needs before you get to Big Bend.
Big Bend is a unique experience that everyone should experience at least once. It is another National treasure that I am thankful has been preserved for people to enjoy and appreciate for generations to come.