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Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend National Park Terlingua Texas Camp Elena

Big Bend National Park (BBNP) harbors over 800,000 acres of natural Chihuahuan Desert landscape. The park is for every adventurer, offering hiking, river trips, bird watching, biking, swimming, and more. In the park, there are five visitor centers with stores (some are closed during the summer), one restaurant, and one gas station. You can purchase your park ticket before your arrival or at the entrance. For a full list of activities and other information, please visit BBNP's website.


Tip #1: Rent our Park Essentials Bundle for a seamless and unforgettable adventure to and from the park.

Tip #2: Review BBNP's safety guidelines and park alerts

Tip #3: Stop by Alon Gas Station to fill up your tank and Cottonwood General Store to grab water, food, and other supplies. 




Favorite Hikes



Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail

Easy | 1 mi round trip

This 30 minute gravel-bed trail off of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive offers views of various Big Bend terrains and a 100-ft tall vertical channel.


Balanced Rock via Grapevine Hills Trail

Moderate | 2.2 mi round trip

Arguably one of the most photographed rocks in the park, balanced rock sits towards the end of this trail of gravel and boulders. This trailhead is only accessible with a high clearance vehicle.


Lost Mine Trail

Moderate | 4.8 mi round trip

A half-day hike near the Chisos Lodge with some of the best aerial views of the park at 7,535ft. A majority of visitors say this is their favorite hike in the park.


Emory Peak via South Rim and Boot Springs Trail 

Hard | 15.2 mi round trip

A full-day hike that includes views from the highest peak in the park (Emory at 7,835ft) and a bucket list trail (South Rim) with views into Mexico. Take Pinnacles>Emory Peak Spur>Boot Canyon>South Rim>Laguna Meadows.






Favorite Sites



Santa Elena Canyon

At the end of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, 1,500ft tall limestone cliffs are parted by the waters of the Rio Grande. One of the most famous sites in the park, and our namesake!


Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive 

A paved road that connects the entrance road to Santa Elena Canyon. Offers beautiful views of mountainous terrain, especially during sunrise or sunset, and is the start of many trailheads heavy with history.


Chisos Mountains

The heart of the park! This mountain range can be seen from Camp Elena. It is the only range that is fully contained in a national park, even at 20 miles long. The Chisos' tallest peaks include Emory (7,835) and Lost Mine (7,535ft).


The Window

In the Chisos Basin, you can take a 5.6 mile trail down to the narrow rock opening to see the vast, framed views of Big Bend from above, or stop at the Window View trail and walk 0.3 miles to a viewpoint (wheelchair accessible).


Boquillas Hot Springs & Border Crossing

Stay in the US and enjoy the hot springs, or cross into Mexico to ride a horse, raft, or walk to the nearby village (about 1/2 mile) for shopping and dining. Don't forget cash and your passport!


Fossil Discovery Exhibit 

A beautiful architectural structure near Panther Junction that guides you through 130 million years of animal and plant history in Big Bend.






Favorite Tours



Jeep Tours

Lucky Sun Jeep Tours offers private, custom half-day and full-day Jeep tours with convenient pick up and drop off at your tent.


Half Day River Float

A family-friendly morning river float in the Rio Grande guided by Far Flung Outdoor Center. Subject to water levels.


Equipment Rentals

Rent our Park Essentials Bundle for a basic day trip to the park. You can rent canoes, kayaks, etc. from Big Bend Boating and Hiking Company. They also provide tours and shuttle services.


Guided Tour to Boquillas, Mexico

Alongside your guide, journey into this charming, solar-powered Mexican village via ferry boat. Explore the town's shops and dine at Falcon's Restaurant along the Rio Grande. If time permits, treat yourself to a relaxing soak in the Boquillas Hot Springs after crossing back into the National Park.




Day-Trip Packing List



+ at least 1 gallon of water/person/day

+ hearty snacks and meals

+ sunscreen and bug spray

+ a light cover up shirt & rain jacket

+ a hat & sunglasses

+ hiking shoes & socks

+ paper park map (grab at entrance)

+ downloaded offline trail map (ex. the Gaia GPS app)

+ charged phone, camera, data cards

+ binoculars & headlamp

+ any other adventure gear!




Accessibility 



Check out a list of accessible trails, campgrounds, outfitters, and more here


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