Big Bend National Park

big bend national park

Big Bend National Park photo by Dean Fikar via Shutterstock.

Big Bend National Park, located in Texas, is characterized by its vast desert expanses, winding Rio Grande river, and the Chisos Mountains. This isolated park, where the U.S. meets Mexico, offers a diverse landscape of canyons, hot springs, and starry night skies, making it a haven for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

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Fast Facts

State(s): Texas
Area: 801,163 acres (3,242.19 sq km) – 15th largest national park of 63
Highest Elevation: Emory Peak – 7,825 ft (2,385 m)
Lowest Elevation: Rio Grande Village – 1,800 ft (548 m)
Date Established: June 12, 1944
Annual Visitors: 514,107 visitors in 2022
Nearest Town: Alpine, Texas

Recommended Day Hikes

Park Tracker considers a “day hike” to be a hike under 10 miles. Below we provide our top five recommendations inside the park, along with AllTrails links to the hikes.

  1. Boquillas Canyon Trail (1.6 mi, Easy to moderate) – This trail offers a scenic walk along the Rio Grande with a steep but brief climb, providing excellent views.
  2. Ernst Tinaja Trail (1.6 mi, Easy to moderate) – Features a slot canyon with waterholes within colorful limestone layers. Note: Access requires a high-clearance 4WD vehicle.
  3. Boot Canyon Trail (6.2 mi, Difficult) – A challenging hike through beautiful desert scenery and greenery, with potential water pools during the rainy season.
  4. Window Trail (5.6 mi, Moderate) – Known for its unique “window” view through the Chisos Mountains, offering moderate challenges and spectacular views.
  5. Emory Peak (10.5 mi, Difficult) – Although slightly over the preferred length, it’s the highest peak in the park, offering steep trails and panoramic views.

🧗🏻‍♂️ Popular Activities in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is about more than just hiking. See below for some of the best non-hiking activities to do in Big Bend National Park.

  1. Birdwatching at Rio Grande Village
  2. Horseback riding through the desert
  3. Paddling along the Rio Grande
  4. Participating in ranger-led night sky programs
  5. Taking a dip in the natural hot springs

🛎️ Where to Stay Near Big Bend National Park

While there are ample camping and vacation rental options near most US national parks, I personally highly prefer staying at Hilton-branded properties when traveling to national parks. As such, below are the five closest Hilton properties to Big Bend National Park.

  1. Hampton Inn Alpine – 78.4 mi from park
  2. Hampton Inn Fort Stockton – 113.2 mi from park
  3. Hampton Inn and Suites Del Rio – 140.4 mi from park
  4. Hampton Inn Pecos – 146.6 mi from park
  5. Home2 Suites by Hilton Pecos – 146.7 mi from park

🍔 What to Eat Near Big Bend National Park

After hiking and exploring Big Bend National Park, odds are high you’re going to be hungry. Here are five of the best restaurant options within and near the park.

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