During the summer months, we are fortunate to be able to travel cross-country. One summer we headed south to visit the Big Bend National Park. Big Bend Rv camping in the summer can be difficult. However, you must be prepared if visiting during the hot summer months.
Big Bend N.P. is one of the most remote, and least visited National Parks in the contiguous United States. It is in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande River. The awe-inspiring views of this remote landscape will have you constantly pulling off the road for photos. Even better star-filled night skies. In addition, you will see a variety of wildlife and have so many different adventures to choose from.
Fortunately, even during the scorching summer weather, we were able to make some great memories. The afternoon temperatures in excess of 100+ degrees did slow us down a bit. However, it didn’t stop us from enjoying Big Bend.
Of course, one summer benefit was that we had the campground, and most of the park, to ourselves.
If you are planning on staying at the Big Bend Rv park please continue reading to ensure you are prepared so you can make some great memories.
How to Get There | Be Sure to Keep an Eye on the Gas Gauge!
It is important to understand that Big Bend N.P. is isolated and out of the way.
If you travel to Big Bend and learn one thing from us let it be this fuel up in Fort Stockton!!
We were fortunate that we stopped at the Flying J Travel stop right off the interstate. Once you hit Fort Stockton you head south towards Big Bend. Once you make the turn south it is 99 miles until you hit the Big Bend entrance, and then approximately another 40 miles until you reach a gas station inside the park.
This 139-mile journey is down a desolate road through the desert with the only signs of human activity in the small town of Marathon. Although an amazing ride, with amazing views, I know I would not want to run out of gas along this road!
The map below shows all the sites we visited, and write about. Click the tab in the top left to see all the locations, and click the star to add to your maps.
Big Bend National Park Entrance Fees
$30 / Vehicle: Admits one private, non-commercial vehicle; valid for 7 days.
$25 / Motorcycle: Admits one motorcycle; valid for 7 days.
$15 / Individuals: Admits one individual. Typically used for bicyclists and pedestrians; valid for 7 days.
Big Bend National Park Facts
Big Bend National Park was officially established on June 12, 1944
On average over 400,000 visitors enter the park annually.
Was named after the large bend in the Rio Grande River
It is the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States.
Big Bend National Park covers a total area of 801,163 acres.
The Chisos Mountains are located in the park and are the only mountain range fully contained within a national park
In 2012, the park was named an International Dark Sky Park. Big Bend National Park has the darkest measured skies in the lower 48 states, and star gazing here is obviously superb.
The Best Place to Enjoy Night Sky
In our opinion, one of the best things that Big Bend offers is its view of the night sky.
With the closest town being 50 miles away there is little to no light pollution. This allows for amazingly dark skies at night. This brings to view indescribable views of the stars, the milky way, and all that the night sky has to offer.
In 2012 the International Dark Sky Association designated Big Bend as an International Dark Sky Park. The National Park Service has also performed measurements that show that Big Bend had the darkest skies in the continental US.
Big Bend Rv camping is a great way to sit back, relax, and enjoy the crystal clear night sky.
Important Tips for Big Bend Rv Camping During the Summer
Big Bend National Park is 800,000+ acres of desert land. The weather during the summer is extreme. You must take certain precautions if you are going to try and camp here during the hot summer months.
Our work schedules allow us to travel extensively during the summer months. Therefore, our visit to Big Bend was during August.
If we had the option to go to Big Bend again we would certainly go in the winter months when it was noticeably cooler.
The summer weather wasn’t insufferable.
Fortunately, there is a mountain range in Big Bend, The Chisos,. Thi is home to the best hikes in Big Bend and offers a cool respite from the desert heat.
We did not venture out into the desert. It was far too hot to even consider doing the popular desert treks like Mule Ears.
The most important tips are hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. With the temperatures well over 100 in the afternoons plan your hikes, and activities, for the morning or after sunset.
Rio Grande Village Rv Campground
Rv sites at Big Bend can be found at the Rio Grande Village Rv Campground. This is the only place for Big Bend Rv camping in the park.
Here you will find full Rv hookups including water, electricity, and septic. However, to be clear this is no Rv resort or glamping campground. It is a parking lot, in the desert, along the Rio Grande River, where you can back your camper in and hook up.
As you can see in the photo our time at the campground, in the sweltering heat, was shared by only one other camper!! Some would say that being in an RV is not necessarily camping. However, if you do visit in the sweltering August heat we recommend an air conditioned Rv.. This gives you somewhere to escape the Texas summer heat.
Right next to the campground is a small camp store, laundry facility, and public bathrooms. The camp store is small and has limited supplies, but we were able to find all that we needed.
Our biggest excitement at the campground came from turkey vultures watching us from the trees, and some early morning visitors. Twice we awoke in the early morning, went outside to get some fresh air, and were met by a group of wild javelinas.
There are hiking trails within walking distance of the campground. These trails offer great views of the Rio Grande River and great sunsets up in the hills.
Things To Do
Go For A Hike
This huge park has three different hiking opportunities. You can hike through the desert, hike through the mountains, or hike along the Rio Grande River. However, if you are camping during the summer we recommend sticking to the cooler mountain trails, or along the river. The heat along the desert trails can be extremely dangerous during the hot summer months.
We hiked the Lost Mine Trail. This trail offered stunning views of the Chisos Mountains and the Juniper Canyon. It was not too strenuous and offered cool breezes.
Go Horseback Riding
We spent a day horseback riding with the Big Bend Stables in Study Butte, Texas
The stables are just outside the west entrance to the Park, and about a 50-mile ride from the Rv park.
This was the first time any of us had gone horseback riding. Our guide for the day was great and helped us have an enjoyable day of riding.
We spent the day riding through the hills, and desert surrounding the park.
This is a great way to spend time together and truly enjoy the Texas landscape.
Our Day Trip Across the Border to Boquillas, Mexico
Of all our adventures in Big Bend, our day trip into the village of Boquillas was the most memorable.
You leave through a U.S. border checkpoint, and then have to cross the Rio Grande river.
On the bank of the river there is a rowboat that will take you across for a small fee. After crossing the river we were met by residents of the village who were willing to lead us to the village either on donkeys or in a pickup truck.
It is a two-mile trip to the village, and due to the heat, we opted for the pickup truck. Once you enter the village you have to pay a small fee again at the Mexico border entry.
Once in the village, the residents were more than accommodating. We were given a tour of the village and offered lunch in one of the small restaurants. It was a humbling experience for us to see the level of poverty throughout the village, and how the Mexican residents live within walking distance of the United States.
One thing to remember if you do choose to visit Boquillas is that you will need to reenter the United States. So you must remember to bring a passport to return home! You will have to enter through a small Customs checkpoint. Make sure before you leave the country that you have proper identification to return to the United States.
Participate in the Junior Ranger Program
As with any National Park visit we recommend completing the Junior Ranger Program. This is a great way to learn all about the park you are visiting while having fun.
While participating in the Big Bend Junior Ranger program you will learn all about the park’s wildlife, history, geology, and plant life.
All that is needed is a visit to one of the visitor’s centers where you can pick up a free Junior Ranger activity book. Once you complete to required activities you return the book to a Park Ranger. At this point, you will be asked to raise your hand and recite the Junior Ranger pledge. Next, you will receive a signed certificate and a Big Bend Junior Ranger badge from the Park Ranger.
In conclusion, Big Bend Rv camping is a great way to visit and explore this massive National Park. If you are like us, and summer is the only time you can visit, just make sure to be prepared.
Big Bend protects over 800,000 acres of the Chihuahuan Desert. So needless to say the summer heat can be brutal, and extremely dangerous at times. However, if you are prepared it is possible to enjoy the park during the summer heat.
If you are fortunate to visit in the cooler winter months you can still use the tips we have shared to ensure you stay at Big bend N.P. is a memorable experience.