Big Bend boasts the largest area of contiguous public land in Texas. Over 150 miles of trails through emerald forests and misty mountains are some of the most spectacular in the country. Shifting elevations graduate from 2,000 feet along the Rio Grande to nearly 8,000 in the Chisos Mountains. Diverse wildlife viewing opportunities unfold like flowers on the way. Here are some of the park's most spectacular hikes:
80% of the landscape that surrounds Big Bend National Park cabins is comprised by the Chihuahuan Desert. Colorful cacti blooms accent this Spartan landscape, while wildlife abounds. Look for birds nesting in the yuccas as you wander this half-mile trail to a ghost town. Picnic in the shade of the Cottonwood trees among seasonal desert marigolds, paintbrush, and bluebonnets.
Three miles from the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center, the dramatic groove of Dog Canyon leads straight into the Devil's Den. Opt to venture into the Den or ascend the southern edge of the crevasse for canyon-wide views on the six-mile round trip.
Ascend 2,000 feet in the mountains to appreciate panoramic, horizon-reaching vistas from the South Rim. From Basin Trailhead, you can opt to take the precipitous Pinnacles path or the gentler Laguna Meadows Trail. This 14-mile round trip offers some of the best views in the park, but is closed during Peregrine Falcon nesting season.
Whether it be horseback rides to Mexican villages or mountain biking beneath the Chisos Mountains, the opportunities for outdoor adventure at Big Bend National Park cabins are as extensive as the sprawling National Park itself. Here are some ideas:
Let 160 miles of back country dirt roads take you to mind-melting panoramic views. Popular routes include the paved Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village route. A thirty-mile trip along the Glenn Springs Road snakes pas the Chisos Mountains before meeting the River Road and finally rolling into the village. Much of the ride is downhill (your elevation falls by 2,000 feet during its course). Choose to take in the Hot Springs Historic District at the end of a two-mile split off for extra interest.
A variety of river treks flow through some of the park's most bountiful habitats. The Hot Springs Canyon Trail for instance, runs between Daniel's Ranch and the park's Hot Springs, offering paddlers sublime views of the Chisos and Del Carmen Mountains. Spot pictographs on the Hot Springs Historic Trail and diverse birdlife on the short but sweet mile-long Rio Grande Village Nature Trail.
Venture across the border to Mexico's Boquillas village to see traditional crafting and learn about local history. Be sure to bring your passport when you arrive at the Crossing Port of Entry.
Hotels near Big Bend National Park promise dinosaurs and white water rafting. What more might a family need to enjoy the vacation of a lifetime? Here are the park's top experiences for families:
Strange creatures inhabit the Fossil Discovery Exhibit at Big Bend. Illustrated with impactful artworks, 130 million year old life forms are reanimated once more. You'll walk in the footsteps of these remarkable specimens, and explore a trail to see unique geological formations.
Cutting a pathway through miles of thousand-foot-high canyons, the Rio Grande snakes through some of the park's most spectacular sights. Along the way, you'll pass brightly colored buttes, mesas, and mountains on the Mexican border. Look out for the green flash of glittery kingfishers, turtles basking in the sunlight, and other riparian wildlife as you discover this spectacular slice of the Texas landscape.
If little legs inhibit extensive exploration of this vast paradise, there are over a hundred miles of paved roads in the park to transport you to its most scenic corners. Take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive for instance. On this thirty-mile stretch, your family will be treated to scenic vistas from Mule Ears Overlook and Tuff Canyon. You'll be able to discover historic Sam Nail and Homer Wilson Ranches. The drive culminates in the majestic Santa Elena Canyon, whose limestone sides rocket 1,500 feet into the air over the rushing Rio Grande.