"Bending on the Border" Top 5 Page for this destination Big Bend National Park by mtncorg

Big Bend National Park Travel Guide: 176 reviews and 393 photos

Looming like a battleship, the Chisos Mountains rise high above the surrounding Chihuahuan desert plains, standing as a bastion to the border, a few miles to the south. The Chisos are the heart of this park and they are apropriately, smack in the middle of the park. As you can see in XenoHumph's fine pages, the Park is the best example of preserved Chihuahuan desert in the US - there are three other warm weather desert types in the US, as well: Great Basin, Mojave and Sonoran. The Chisos stand as a green oasis surrounded by hot harsh desert, ensconcing a myriad of plant and animal life unique to these mountains.

One road penetrates into the Chisos, slowly winding the 6 miles it takes to cross Panther Pass and come down into the Basin, a high hanging valley over a mile high - 5400 feet. Here you will find a large campground, a visitor center - there are three other visitor centers in the Park: Panther Junction (the Park's headquarters), Persimmon Gap (at the north entrance to the Park) and at the Rio Grande Village on the southeast edge of the Park near he entrance to Boquillas Canyon. From the Basin, several grand hikes emanate. Closest is probably the trail going towards the Window (4 miles), a deep cleft in the mountain wall that is one of the main features you notice from the Basin roadend. Through the gap that is the Window, you can gaze far off into the desert west. The highlight trail is the trail to the South Rim. It is a about a 14 mile round trip and the view to the south from atop the Rim is both airy and awe inspiring. For pictures, you should try and plan your hike to take advantage of sunrise or sunset to witness the myriad of colors washed out in the midday sun.

When should you visit the Park? Summer is simply too hot to enjoy the Park. Heat and arid winds can cause ground temperautres to roast you at up to 180F!! This is definitely a Park to come to in the normal off-season. The Park is a long ways from anything, as well. Its remoteness and the fact that summer is not a good time to visit ensure that you will not see the number of tourists other parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon or Yellwostone attract. This is just as well. I visited the Park in early January. A bit cool at night but very pleasant during the day. We stayed at the little lodge in the Basin. If you want to stay here, get reservations and be aware that you can hear everything in neighboring rooms through the cinderblock walls. I would camp next time.
What gives the Park its name is the big U-turn made by the Rio Grande River. Here we come to another great reason to visit the Park; the River. The River serves as the border between Texas and Mexico and in the Park, the River traverses three superb canyons: Santa Elena, Mariscal and Boquillas. Outside of thunderstorm season - July-October - the River is not very difficult to run, the hardest part maybe the logistics involved in putting your boat in and taking it out at another - usually involving a not inconsiderable amount of road distance in between.

So, come to the Park for the desert, the mountains or the river and learn about the history and cultures that have intertwined themselves with this region when you get here. Remember, it is a very long drive to get here and there are no real towns to speak of nearby. Six hours to El Paso and a lot more to the cities of eastern Texas.

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/riversb.htm for nps floating information

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/home.htm Big Bend home page

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Chihuahuan Desert, Looming Mountains and Vertical Canyons
  • Cons:A long Drive, very Remote and downright Unpleasant in the Summer
  • In a nutshell:Here is what Texas is to Most People
  • Last visit to Big Bend National Park: Jan 2001
  • Intro Updated Nov 7, 2003
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Reviews (10)

Comments (9)

  • enigma58's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2007 at 5:48 PM

    it is a wonderful trip...can I book the raffling on side?

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 12, 2006 at 12:47 PM

    For once I was glad to have VT's map function so I could see exactly where this is -- nowhere near El Paso or San Antonio, which are the closest places I have ever been to. Fine photos and descriptions, as always!

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2005 at 1:38 PM

    Hoping to make a stop in Big Bend when we do our Texas roadtrip in the "near future" Did you take Little Girl in the raft too? ;o) ~ Helen

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2004 at 2:21 AM

    Ouch! That's some ground temp! Interesting and informative with good pics as always.

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
    Sep 28, 2004 at 1:24 PM

    We are thinking of going to Big Bend late January, so I was interested to see that the weather was pleasant when you visited. Thanks for the great tips.

  • Sep 12, 2004 at 1:21 AM

    Another great page Mark, wow what a picture!! Looking forward to visit, are the campsites crowded in April? Cheers

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2004 at 8:57 PM

    This is one area I wanted to visit in Texas. Your photos and info are just fabulous. So vast. I don't think I would eat before rafting:-) Good rafting tips.. sad that I won't get to visit before I leave TX

  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo
    Nov 23, 2003 at 6:26 PM

    When Oregonians beat me to Big Bend, I must hang my head in shame. . .I'll get here eventually!

  • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2003 at 11:59 AM

    Marvellous page!! I have been waiting fot it since you said you would build one.. I am not dissapointed. Like usual, great detailed tips and excellent pictures...and thank you for mentioning my page!!


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