Yucca with Chisos
In 2019, Big Bend saw a record 466,000 visitors. February through April is the busiest time of year in Big Bend and park visitors should be prepared for full campgrounds and lodging. NPS Photo

Big Bend National Park is experiencing record visitation. Last year, the park hosted over 466,000 visitors, and a large number of them historically travel to Big Bend National Park during the months of February, March, and April. As travelers seek solace from stressful educational routines, and escape wintry conditions, the park experiences significant increases in visitation. Over the next few months, visitors should expect ALL park campsites to fill every night.

From now through April, the demand for campsites and overnight lodging will be far greater than the number of campsites and rooms available within the park. “If the last month is any indication, our expectations are for an extremely busy spring this year, which is anticipated to extend through the month of April,” said Chief of Interpretation Tom VandenBerg. “Many people are making the long journey to this remote park, only to find that many other people have also planned to do the same thing and that all camping sites are already full,” says VandenBerg.

Since early February, all campgrounds and primitive campsites have already been filling each day by late morning. If you plan on visiting Big Bend this time of year, it is best to come prepared with some alternative plans for lodging or camping outside of the park if all sites are full.

Backcountry permits are required for backpacking and primitive campsites. Permits may be obtained in person up to 24 hours in advance at the Panther Junction (8:30a-5:00p) and Chisos Basin (8:30a-4:00p) Visitor Centers. Recently, additional campground sites and some of the most popular backcountry sites were added to the online reservation system at www.recreation.gov. Most of those sites have already been booked through the month of March. Visitors planning to visit Big Bend National Park should have alternate plans in case they cannot find a campsite within the park.

Visitors seeking lodging inside the park without reservations may have difficulty finding a room. The Chisos Mountains Lodge, the only lodging facility in the park, reports that few reservations are available. A fortunate few may be able to take advantage of last-minute cancellations. Potential visitors should call the lodge at (432) 477-2291 for more information. Additional camping facilities, RV parks, and lodging are located in communities outside the park. Curent listings are available at www.visitbigbend.com. Reservations should be made in advance.

“The next few months are a fantastic time to visit Big Bend, but also the busiest month of the year in the park, and many visitors are both surprised and disappointed when campsites are not available,” continued VandenBerg. “We wish to encourage people to also visit during other times of the year to maximize enjoyment of Big Bend, and the remote sense of peacefulness that it is known for.”

Source: NPS

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