Large numbers of visitors historically travel to Big Bend National Park during spring break, a typical vacation away from school. As travelers seek solace from stressful educational routines, and escape wintry conditions, the park experiences increases in visitation to the point of periodic congestion. Fall and winter rains have also resulted in spectacular spring flowers, attracting abundant desert enthusiasts. Chief of Interpretation Tom VandenBerg said, “If the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend is any indication, our expectations are for an extremely busy spring break this year, which is anticipated to extend through the month of March.”
The busiest time during spring break this year will be March 7 through 24, when most of the Texas public schools and universities are scheduled to be closed for the break. “Many people will make an effort to come to the park early to beat the rush, only to find that many other people have also planned to do the same thing,” says VandenBerg.
During the extended Spring Break period, the demand for campsites and overnight lodging will be far greater than the number of campsites and rooms available within the park. All campgrounds and primitive campsites have already been filling each day by late morning. Backcountry permits are required for backpackers 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 Visitor Centers (8:30a-4:00p).
Visitors seeking lodging 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. Reservations should be made in advance.
“March is a fantastic time to visit, 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 their enjoyment of Big Bend and the remote sense of peacefulness that it is known for.”