After spending one summer traveling to the Grand Canyon and another to Yellowstone, we explored the south. Therefore, our third cross-country trip took us to Big Bend National Park. This fantastic park eludes many people due to how out of the way it is. Named after a large bend in the Rio Grande river, this park is diverse in geology, plant and animal life, and history. In this post, we share some tips and recommendations if you are looking to plan an incredible Big Bend RV camping vacation.
Big Bend National Park Location
Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote national parks. Big Bend is located in Southwest Texas, a considerable distance from cities and transportation hubs. If driving to Big Bend, it is necessary to be prepared as the long drive has limited gas stations and other stops.
From Interstate 10
Big Bend National Park is located in Southwest Texas, a considerable distance from cities and transportation hubs. If driving to Big Bend, it is necessary to be prepared as the long drive has limited gas stations and other stops along the way,
From Fort Stockton, take U.S. 385 for 58 miles to Marathon. Then continue south to Big Bend National Park’s east entrance 30 mi. further. The visitor center Panther Junction is another 40-mile drive.
Fort Stockton offers the last gas station before the National Park. It is a 126-mile drive between gas stations. Therefore, we highly recommend fueling up in Fort Stockton before you head south,
National Park Facts
- Big Bend National Park was established as America’s 27th national park on June 12, 1944
- Entrance Fees: $30/vehicle, $25/motorcycle, $15/individual, $55/annual pass.
- Acreage: 801,163 acres
- Visitation: 581,000 visitors in 2021
- Highest Elevation: 7,825 feet at Emory Peak
- Lowest Elevation: 1,715 feet at the Rio Grande River
- Big Bend National Park has the darkest measured skies in the lower 48 states, and star gazing here is superb.
Big Bend Rv Camping
Since this park offers so much and is so isolated, we highly recommend spending a few days at Big Bend and taking advantage of the campgrounds within its boundaries, three campgrounds run by the National Park Service, and one full hook-up RV camping area operated by the park concessioner. Reservations are required for the park’s campgrounds and can be made at recreation.gov.
Rio Grande Village RV Campground
This is the only full hook-up RV campground in Big Bend and offers water, electrical, and a 3-inch sewer connection. The small parking lot provides 25 sites. The RV Park also has amenities like showers and laundry and is conveniently located next to the Rio Grande Village camp store.
The Rio Grande Village RV park is far from an RV resort. It is a parking lot that offers back-in spots and hookups. However, this National Park is so massive yo spent very little time in the RV or the park. A small store on site offers minimal camping supplies and food.
What to Do at Big Bend National Park
Plan for the Weather
Big Bend offers a lot to do while visiting. However, being aware of the weather is vital before setting your agenda. Sunshine is abundant most of the year.
Spring is typically warm and pleasant and is the park’s busiest season.
Summers are hot; temperatures vary significantly between the desert floor, often above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Chisos Mountains, which are ten to twenty degrees cooler.
June-August is the hottest month. Visitors should be familiar with heat safety. T
he rainy season runs from May through September, with locally heavy thunderstorms and some flash flooding. The rainy season can be a delightful time to visit since afternoon and evening rains often cool the desert.
The number one thing to do in Big Bend is to go hiking. The park contains the largest expanse of roadless public lands in Texas. More than 150 miles of trails offer opportunities for day hikes or backpacking trips.
The park offers fantastic day hikes in its Chisos Mountains and great alternatives to desert hikes if you’re looking for cooler temperatures. For an easier mountain trek, try the Window View Trail (this trail is also wheelchair accessible and is a great place to watch the sunset). Moderate hikes like the Lost Mine Trail and strenuous hikes like Boot Canyon Trail allow you to experience the varying elevation within the park and the lush and diverse plant and animal life in the mountains. Of course, you must watch for bears, mountain lions, and foxes on these mountain trails!
If unsure where to start, ask a Park Ranger at the NPS visitor center for advice.
Enjoy the Night Sky
Big Bend National Park is known as one of the unique places in North America for stargazing. It has the least light pollution of any other National Park in the lower 48 states. This is made possible due to the sparse human occupation of this region. Big Bend has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park, one of just 10 worldwide.
Go Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is an excellent way to explore and enjoy the Chihuahuan Desert around Big Bend.
Several outfits offer this excellent service. We recommend checking out the Big Bend and Lajitas Stables. Several family options exist, from guided 2-hour rides to full-day guided excursions.
Visiting Boquillas, Mexico
This was a perfect way to spend an afternoon exploring during your trip. First, you must go to the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry. Once you pass through, you will walk towards the Rio Grande River, where you cross via boat or walk across. After crossing, you can rent a donkey, pay for a ride in a pickup truck, or walk the 1/2 mile to the town. When you arrive in Boquillas, there are souvenir shops, some restaurants, and a few areas to explore.
Big Bend N.P. Junior Ranger Program
The Junior Ranger Program is offered at all the National Parks and is a great way to learn about the park.
Be sure to pick up a free Junior Ranger Activity Book at any park visitor center. The book contains fun activities about the park’s history, wildlife, plants, and geology. You must take your book while exploring various park areas to complete the required activity pages. After you complete your activities, review them with a ranger. The ranger will sign your certificate and present you with an official Junior Ranger badge!
Our Big Bend Rv Camping Experience
We learned a precious lesson while camping at Big Bend. We learned it is necessary to be prepared for the weather before arriving. Our visit to Big Bend occurred in August, and the heat at times was unbearable.
Although we dealt with the heat, we made the best of our time at Big Bend. The highlight was the trip across the Rio Grande and our afternoon in Mexico.
The night sky was truly memorizing. Unfortunately, the pictures or words do the night sky at Big Bend no justice. It is truly something that needs to be seen.
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Have you visited Big Bend? How was your experience? Do you have any tips for visiting this remote park?