© Photo by Adam Baker
Big Bend National Park
1 Panther Dr.
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
At 801,163 acres (1,252 square miles), Big Bend is one of the largest national parks in the United States. Holding national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the country, the remote park contains more than 1,200 species of plants, and over 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals.
Popular activities include sightseeing (deep canyons along the river are among the park's most striking features), fishing (allowed in the Rio Grande with a free permit issued from a visitor center), hot springs (105-degree F hot springs located near Rio Grande Village are available for day-use soaking), stargazing (the park is noted as an "International Dark Sky Park" with frequent clear visibility of thousands of stars, bright planets, and the Milky Way), border crossing (visitors can currently legally cross into Mexico through the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry), hiking (Chimneys Trail visits a rock formation, Marufo Vega passes scenic canyons and the Rio Grande, and the Outer Mountain Loop rises high into the mountains and descends into the desert), camping (sites at Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood campgrounds are offered on a first come, first-served basis), and much more including horseback riding, mountain biking tours, guided trips, and scenic flights.
Water adventure options such as canoeing, kayaking, and sometimes rafting are made available through outfitters such as Big Bend River Tours (the oldest river outfitter running the Rio Grande in the Big Bend area) and Far Flung Outdoor Center (which offers Jeep tours and ATV tours as well as floating excursions ranging from a half day to five days) along with others. Lodging is available at The Chisos Mountains Lodge, and additional adventure information can be obtained at the Panther Junction Visitor Center.
Note: The middle of the deepest channel of the Rio Grande is an international boundary, so please check with individual venues to ensure proper protocols and documentation before planning your trip.