Located in Texas, Big Bend National Park is home to some stunningly gorgeous scenery and a whole host of reasons to consider visiting. This article looks at some of those reasons by highlighting seven great things to do in the park.
Note: If you're visiting today, April 16, entry into Big Bend is FREE!
1. Go Stargazing
Big Bend National Park is an absolutely wonderful place to check out the night sky. The park actually has the least amount of light pollution of any national park located in the lower 48 United States and has been awarded International Dark Sky Park Status. For those looking to get some amazing views of the stars above, you can opt to check out a ranger-led program or bring your own binoculars to create your own experience.
2. Go On A Rafting Trip
The Rio Grande River cuts through Big Bend National Park, offering some amazing opportunities for adventures on the water. For those looking to embark on their first rafting trip, there are several groups in the area that offer guided tours such as Big Bend River Tours. Those with a bit of experience under their belt who are planning to bring or rent their own equipment will also have several routes to choose from, ranging from day trips to overnight trips. Backcountry permits are required for the majority of rafting trips on the Rio Grande.
3. View Wildlife
Another reason to consider visiting this national park is the countless opportunities you’ll have for seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. The park is home to a huge variety of animals. Some of the larger creatures you may end up spotting include deer, javelinas, and black bears. Smaller animals include, but are far from limited to, lizards, snakes, and rabbits. Dawn and dusk are typically the best time to view many of the animals. If you’re wanting to learn more about them, you may also want to consider stopping by a ranger-led program, as topics frequently center on various species of wildlife.
4. Relax In A Hot Spring
Big Bend National Park is also home to hot springs. This is a great option for those looking for a relaxing early morning soak, or those planning to visit during the cooler months. Head over to the Hot Springs Historic District to both enjoy some warm waters and learn more about the history of the spring. The pool that now makes up the spring is actually the ruins of a bathhouse that once stood there. Continuously fed by geothermally heated water, the bathhouse itself may be long gone but the spring remains. Water temperatures in the spring can vary but typically hover around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, you may want to use caution and limit your soak to a reasonable amount of time, especially if going with children or visiting in the summer.
5. Head Out On A Hike
This park offers countless amazing opportunities to go hiking for all skills levels. For those looking for an easy hike, the Window is without a doubt one of the most memorable. The Window itself is a cliff edge framed magnificently by surrounding rock formations. To get there, you’ll wind around 2 miles through the canyon leading up to it. Thanks to its location in the Chisos mountains as opposed to the hotter desert lowlands, this is also a well-loved trail in the summer months. Those looking for some more challenging routes won’t be disappointed either. Marufo Vegas trail, for example, is a 12-mile excursion that may be tiring, but also offers views of stunning scenery.
6. Go On A Scenic Drive
Summer temperatures in Big Bend National Park can soar upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which may be too hot for anything more than a short hike for many visitors. Luckily, if you’re planning to visit in the summer, you can still experience some of the gorgeous scenery without braving the high temperatures by checking out one of the park’s scenic drives. One popular route is the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which showcases the breathtaking rock formations that make up Big Bend National Park and is especially stunning at sunset or sundown.
7. Go Camping
Finally, with so much to do in this national park, it would be impossible to fit everything into one day. For this reason, many visitors opt to spend a few days to a week exploring the area. While there is one lodge within the park boundaries and several more in the surrounding towns, camping can be a great way to experience even more of the park. Big Bend is home to several campgrounds, ranging from developed sites offering various amenities to primitive campsites.