Big Bend National Park - Texas
Chihuahuan Desert and the Rio Grande River
Big Bend National Park preserves a magnificent and diverse portion of the Chihuahuan Desert where the Rio Grande River, looping to the south, forms a "Big Bend" in the border between Mexico and Texas.
Superb desert scenery, curiously eroded rocks, volcanoes, faults, anticlines, fossils, hot springs, old mines, archeological sites and a high and dry wilderness ecosystem are among Big Bend's fantastic wonders.
One of the largest national parks, Big Bend is relatively uncrowded much of the year. Visitation is highest in March and April. The park is extremely crowded during spring break, which is usually the second or third week in March. Easter weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day are also very busy. All lodging and campsites are usually full during these periods. Visitation is lowest in August and September.
Seasons / Hours
The park is open 24 hours daily, all year.
Rates & Fees
Entrance Feesfor a single visit up to seven days
- Vehicle: $20 for a seven day pass good at any park entrance.
- Individual: (on bicycle, motorcycle, or group members) $10 for a seven day pass.
- Children 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge. Non-commercial groups, such as scout groups, pay $10 per person for everyone 16 years and older (instead of $20 per vehicle).
The following passes for free entrance to the park are honored and available at the entrance stations or visitor centers.
Big Bend Annual Pass:
$40Allows unlimited entry to Big Bend National Park for one year from month of purchase.
Interagency Annual Pass:
$80Allows unlimited entry to all federal recreational lands for one year from month of purchase.
$10Lifetime pass to all federal entrance fee areas for people 62 years and older.
FreeLifetime pass to all federal entrance fee areas for permanently disabled persons.
Older passes and passports
Throughout 2007 the Golden Eagle Passport, National Parks Pass, and the new Interagency Annual Pass will be valid; the Golden Eagle Passports and National Parks Passes that were sold in 2006 will be honored until they expire.
The Golden Age and the Golden Access Passports will continue to be honored for the lifetime of the pass holder, so both passes, along with the new Interagency Senior and Access Passes, will be valid for many years to come.
- Fees are currently $14.00 per night, subject to change More...
There are four visitor centers: Persimmon Gap, Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, and Rio Grande Village. There is also a visitor contact station at Castolon. The Panther Junction Visitor Center is open year round. The Persimmon Gap and Chisos Basin Visitor Centers are open most of the year, staff permitting. The Rio Grande Village Visitor Center is open from mid-October through April. All visitor centers provide information, backcountry permits, and limited exhibits.
Hours: The Panther Junction Visitor Center is open daily, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but may be closed on Christmas and New Years Day. Other visitor centers have variable seasons and hours.
Big Bend DVD Plan trips by viewing fascinating scenery, geology, and plant and animal life of the parks or just watch the DVD for pleasure!
The Big Bend Natural History Association operates bookstores in all four visitor centers.
Nature walks, workshops, and evening slide programs are provided by park naturalists year-round. Several programs per day are offered November to April; fewer programs are offered in summer. Check park bulletin boards and visitor centers for the current weekly program schedule.
Annual International Good Neighbor Day Fiesta - October 19 and annually on the third Saturday in October - celebrates the unique culture of the border with music, food, and dance.
Lodging, meals, and service stations are provided by National Park Concessions, Inc. Limited groceries are available near all campgrounds. Gas is available at Panther Junction (park headquarters) and Rio Grande Village. Showers and laundry facilities are available only at Rio Grande Village. There is a restaurant in the Chisos Basin.
Visitor centers are accessible. There are as yet no fully accessible campsites, but some are usable by people in wheelchairs. The Chisos Mountains Lodge restaurant is accessible, as are some motel rooms. A Telecommunications Device for the Deaf is available at park headquarters. A brochure on accessibility is available by calling or writing the park. Employees with sign language abilities may be available.
Rules, Regulations, Precautions
- Pets on a leash are permitted only on roads and in the drive- in campground, not in the backcountry or on trails. Do not bring pets if you intend to hike or backpack.
- Carry enough drinking water, one gallon (four liters) per person per day.
- Pack out all litter.
- Wood or ground fires are prohibited.
- Camp only in designated campsites.
- Firearms and hunting are prohibited.
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DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert.