The Getaway
Top 10 Things to Do in Big Bend National Park

On the border between Texas and Mexico lies Big Bend National Park. The impressive mountains and landscape of Big Bend have been carved out over millennia by the River Grande. The park is a giant playground for outdoor enthusiasts with hiking trails, camping, canoeing, and bird-watching available. Some of the mountains are very popular with rock climbers wanting to test themselves. Those that prefer more relaxed activities can go for a scenic drive through the park, discover old ghost towns, and take a short boat ride across the river for lunch in Mexico.


01 Saint Elena Canyon


The Saint Elena Canyon hike is one of the best in the park. This 1.7-mile trail offers incredible views and scenery along the way. You don't have to be very fit to attempt this hike as the whole trail only has an elevation of 80 feet, making it relatively flat. The 1500 foot high walls of the canyon are an impressive sight. If the water is low, you can wade out into the canyon near the far end of the trail.

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02 Hot Springs


Take a dip in the Hot Springs at Rio Grande Village. These natural hot springs stay at a constant temperature of 105-degrees-Fahrenheit throughout the year. If you get too hot while bathing in the springs, just jump out and take a dip in the cool river water. The primitive pools are located about 0.25 miles away from the Rio Grande parking lot in the village. If you have time to spare, walk the 0.75 mile Hot Springs trail that provides incredible views of the river and surrounds.

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03 Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive


Enjoy some of the most stunning views in Big Bend National Park by taking the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Views of the mountains stretch out into the distance across the Chihuahuan Desert. Stop along the way to view the Homer Wilson Ranch to see the old homestead and take in the views. One of the longer trails in the park, the Mule Ear Springs Trail, is accessed from this road. The trail is magnificent, but if you don't feel up to it, you should stop at the trail point to look at the twin peaks.

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04 Bouquillas


Don't forget your passport on this vacation. Head to the Bouquillas Crossing, where a guard will scan your passport before you hail a boat and enjoy the short river crossing. On the Mexican side of the river, you can catch a ride on a donkey, horse, or vehicle for the one-mile journey to the village. The village is an interesting place to walk around, and there are many good restaurants offering delicious food.

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05 Hiking Trails


Big Bend National Park is known for its amazing variety of hiking trails that take you right into the heart of the beautiful scenery. Fit and adventurous hikers can plan multi-day hikes or long and steep day hikes that provide some of the best views in the park. There are plenty of shorter and relatively flat hikes available for those that just want a taste of hiking in the park.

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06 Go Camping


Spend a night or two camping in the great outdoors at Big Bend National Park. The Park is a designated National Dark Sky Park; this means that the area is free from all light pollution. Look up at the stars at night to see the constellations with incredible clarity. You will get to see some of the park's wildlife while camping, such as roadrunners and javelinas.

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07 Chisos Basin


If you want a taste of luxury or want to eat a meal at a restaurant with amazing views, check out the facilities at Chisos Basin. Have dinner looking out a view of the famous Window rock feature. You can stay in the Mountain Lodge or the campground just below the lodge. There is a small store that sells souvenirs and basic necessities.

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08 Canoe the Rio Grande


Experience adventure while canoeing on the Rio Grande. The day-long trips involve paddling up through the Saint Elena Canyon and drifting back down to the start. The tours typically include lunch on the river. You can book the trips from a number of operators in Lajitas and Terlingua. If you have your own equipment, you can paddle on your own; all you need to do is apply for a free permit.

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09 Terlingua


Tour the town of Terlingua for a quick look around before heading a few miles down the road to Ghost Town Terlingua. The Ghost Town has a number of great photo opportunities and shows what life was like in a small town in the old West. Stop for lunch at one of the excellent restaurants in the town and pick up a few souvenirs.

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10 The Window

Big Bend National Park, USA. Picture taken off at the Window. LeongKokWeng / Getty Images

Plan to arrive at the Window just before sunset and enjoy the stunning views as the sun sets behind this famous rock formation. The 0.3-mile trail to the viewing platform is a flat, easy walk. After watching the sunset, head back to Chisos Basin for dinner at the lodge.


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