Big Bend National Park


At first glance, the Chihuahuan Desert of Big Bend National Park, which straddles the southwestern border of Texas and extends deep into Mexico, is a forbidding place with its volcanic peaks and arid, open grasslands. But take a closer look, especially after a spring rain, and you'll be treated to a symphony of colorful desert flowers in bloom and the comings and goings of coyotes, roadrunners, peregrine falcons, and even white-tailed deer. The eclectic landscape of Big Bend National Park supports seemingly contrasting species of plants and animals. Yucca, claret cup cactus, and prickly pear thrive in the Texas desert, while green, leafy shrubs, such as evergreen sumac, and oak and pine trees enjoy a cooler, wetter climate in the surrounding Chisos Mountains. The tenacious Rio Grande--tenacious because its waters have survived desert floor heat upwards of 180 degrees--forms much of Big Bend's southern boundary and is home to the garfish and several species of turtles, the living remnants of land that was once swamp and savannah. Silt and sand abrasives flowing within river waters helped to carve out the deep canyons and gorges that characterize much of Chihuahuan desert terrain. A float trip along Big Bend's waterways offers an up-close look at the colorful striations in canyon walls that help geologists to mark time and history. What to see and do: A full spectrum of activities awaits visitors at Big Bend National Park. You can go hiking along any number of nature trails or if you bring your own horse, you can ride the open Texas plains on horseback. There are also opportunities for wildlife and bird watching, camping, and fishing. Whatever your interests, a one-day trip is not recommended, simply because the area is so vast. Several days are necessary if you want to fully experience Big Bend. If you're planning to spend most of your time in Big Bend hiking, be prepared. Bring plenty of bottled water (spring water must be treated or boiled), and be sure to pick up a topographic map and trail guide at Big Bend visitor center. The level of difficulty varies from a short stroll to more strenuous uphill treks. For an easier time, take a walk along the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, which leads through lush vegetation up to an overlook. It's a little less than a mile round trip. Other easy hiking can be found at trails in Santa Elena Canyon and Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff. If you want a slightly longer route that can be explored in one day, try the Chimneys and Pine Canyon trails; both are about four or five miles round-trip. Rock formations and petroglyphs characterize the Chimney Trail. A high-clearance vehicle is necessary to reach the Pine Canyon trailhead, but the 80-foot waterfall, active after summer storms, rewards the determined hiker. Serious hikers shouldn't miss the trails in the High Chicos, extending from the depths of the canyon floor to the limits of the South Rim, a spectacular, panoramic view of the surrounding desert. Along the way you'll want to stop and explore Boot Canyon and its forest of hardwood and pine trees. If you are an experienced hiker and have a few days to spend, try Mesa de Anguila, but only during the winter months when the temperature is more moderate. If a canoe or raft trip along the Rio Grande is your interest, contact one of several local outfitters located near Big Bend, because there are no rental facilities on park grounds. A permit is required at no charge for day trips, and is available at visitor centers and in local towns. Trips along the Santa Elena and Boquillas canyons require two to three days, and a week is necessary for a journey along the Lower Canyons. You can camp out at one of three campgrounds, stay in an RV park, or venture into the backcountry to primitive campsites. Big Bend is a remote border area, and a route for drug smugglers. Use extreme caution and report any suspicious behavior. Firearms at Big Bend are strictly prohibited.


PO Box 129
Texas, United States of America 79834


29.30154000, -103.50815000
Visit Website
(432) 477-2251

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