Big Bend National Park

With forested mountains, vast plains, desert and a long, border-defining river, every element of this park is remarkable in its size.

Hike in the desert among rocky canyons and peculiar plants at Big Bend National Park. Walk beside the gently flowing Rio Grande backed by songs of cuckoos and hummingbirds and explore the Chisos Mountains in search of deer and coyotes. 

Begin your trip at the Chisos Basin. Visitor center staff will provide information and direct you toward excellent walking trails. The Window View Trail, a short, wheelchair-accessible route, offers superb views of lush flora and the surrounding peaks. Climb the more challenging 10-mile (16-kilometer) Emory Peak Path past scented pine trees to the highest point in the park. As you ascend, look for whitetail deer foraging through the leafy grounds. 

Head to Castolon Historic District in the park’s southwestern section. Pick up food from La Harmonia Store and relax on the shady riverbank. After lunch, set off onto the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive leading past historic ranches and lookout points. Continue on to the park’s highlight, the awe-inspiring Santa Elena Canyon. Notice two gigantic limestone walls; the left one stands in Mexico and the right is in Texas. 

Explore the Chihuahuan Desert. Along the nature trail, peruse a range of cactus and colorful succulent flowers before emerging next to a charming oasis. Within the park, more than 450 bird species have been sited.

On the western border, visit the Rio Grande winding through the park and separating Mexico and the United States. Head westward out of the desert to a village offering shops and a campsite. Put your feet up and enjoy a well-earned rest or spot diverse wildlife that includes beavers and several species of turtle. 

Big Bend National Park is in southwest Texas, a 3-hour drive south of Midland. Distances between the several towns near the park are vast, so make sure you have plenty of supplies and gas. The park is open year-round and has an entry fee.  

For varied terrain and outdoor appreciation, U.S. national parks offer affordable adventure for all types of travelers. Enjoy your trip to the river, canyons, mountains and desert of Big Bend National Park.

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