Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

National Park · Brewster County, Texas
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Big Bend National Park is a U.S. national park located in Western Texas, bordering Mexico. It has national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. It contains more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. The national park covers 801,163 acres.

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Scott Carvin: “I went here on a road trip with my best friend. Big Bend is out of this world: a vast park that has so much to offer. You can hike, run, stargaze, and go for epic scenic drives. The hikes can be pretty tough, so come prepared with shoes that have good traction. They say nature is healing, and that’s definitely true for Big Bend. It’s a beautiful place.”
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“Texas is a beautiful state: the vast desert mountains, red cliffs, and a powerful river. Big Bend is a wild spiritual place that I love.”
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Straddling the Mexico–US border and with some 500 million years of history, this remote park is one-of-a-kind. Big Bend National Park, which gets its moniker from the dramatic change in direction of the Rio Grand River, is an open-air museum: Estimates say that there are nearly 26,000 archaeological sites spread throughout the park. There are also 200 miles (321 kilometers) of hiking trails and come nightfall, you can gaze up at the night sky and witness 2,000 stars twinkling bright.
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This adventure shines by day, but by night, it’s even brighter. Here’s what to do: From Big Bend’s Panther Junction Visitor Center, drive to the Grapevine Hills trailhead. From there, hike to Balanced Rock, where you’ll see a field of ancient volcanic boulders, with one precariously balanced standout. Stay here for nightfall to see why this park is gold-tier designated by the International Dark Sky Association, or hike back to the road and choose one of its five primitive campsites.
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Designated as one of the darkest places in the country, it’s one of the best places to stargaze with your kids. It’s also filled with fossils—be sure to take your dino enthusiast to the Fossil Discovery Exhibit. There are also plenty of hiking opportunities for families: some of the best trails for kids include the Window View, the Basin Loop, the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, and for older kids, the Lost Mine Trail is worth the trek.
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Located near the Chisos Basin Visitor Center, the Lost Mine Trail is a perfect opportunity to escape the heat and ascend into the higher elevations. The trail ends on the crest of an exposed ridge, offering incredible 360-degree views. Lost Mine Peak can be seen to the northwest and towers above 7,400 feet. Legend has it that early explorers discovered an ore body atop the peak while searching for silver and gold.
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This loop through Big Bend National Park is one of the more epic ways to experience the region's beauty. Affectionately referred to as the "Outer Mountain Loop," the 35-mile route takes hikers through remote, rugged terrain, summiting Emory peak on the way.
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A remote destination in the southwest of Texas along the Mexican border, Big Bend National Park is a great spot to seek solitude and relaxation. The park itself is larger than the state of Rhode Island, and features 150 miles of hiking trails, unparalleled dark night skies perfect for stargazing, a stretch of the Rio Grande, paved driving trails, and more. When planning your trip to Big Bend, make sure to set aside time to get to and from this expansive park!
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Tucked along Texas’ southern border is the diverse Big Bend National Park. Here your family will find everything from sea fossils and dinosaur bones to volcanic dikes as you journey through the park’s mountain, river, and desert areas. On the 1.7-mile Santa Elena Canyon Trail you’ll travel into the mouth of the striking Santa Elena Canyon, or cross into Mexico on a rowboat at the Boquillas Crossing—just don’t forget your passport.
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Big Bend National Park has the darkest night skies of any other national park unit in the lower 48 states, designating this park as an outstanding location for stargazing. The staff and volunteers at Big Bend offer several night sky interpretive programs for visitors, such as star parties and moonlight walks. Camping is also a popular attraction at Big Bend, so be sure to check the park’s website for reservations.
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Celebrating the National Park Service is easy in Texas, which has 14 NPS-managed areas, including two national parks: Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend. Experience the Rio Grande's glassy waters and towering canyon walls on a boating, biking or hiking adventure for all ages in Big Bend—a West Texas escape with views you won't forget. Or, witness spectacularly colored fall foliage and prairie wildlife at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, with public campsites perfect for both tents and RVs.
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A remote destination in the southwest of Texas along the Mexican border, Big Bend National Park is a great spot to seek solitude and relaxation. The park itself is larger than the state of Rhode Island, and features 150 miles of hiking trails, unparalleled dark night skies perfect for stargazing, a stretch of the Rio Grande, paved driving trails, and more. When planning your trip to Big Bend, make sure to set aside time to get to and from this expansive park!
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