Bringing over 25 people to the park
Big Bend is a popular place for individuals as well as some large groups. All visitors are welcome. Sometimes though, large groups have caused problems because the groups were not aware of park policies. This has resulted in other visitors having their Big Bend experience negatively impacted. In addition, rangers have had to respond to emergencies where someone was pushed beyond their ability by others (for example, peer pressure to hike a long steep trail, or pressure to ignore health warning signs, such as complaints of dizzyness on a hot day). These are situations that can be prevented by better planning and group control.
The park requires the following from leaders of large groups:
● Stop at the Panther Junction visitor center for a group orientation to the park.
● Groups with kids under 18 should have one chaperone for every 5 children.
● Groups of 50 or more should break hiking parties into at least 2 groups with a 15 minute staggered departure time.
● When deciding on your group's activities, please consider the physical ability of individuals in your group. The rule of thumb to follow is that the least able individual determines the group's pace and distance of hike. If the fastest person or the group's average speed determines the pace, health-related accidents happen when slower individuals are pushed beyond their ability. An inflexible activity plan made up of challenging activities at the expense of someone's health is not a good policy. Know when it is time to turn back, even if the destination on your hike hasn't been reached.
Big Bend gives all groups the benefit of the doubt, but privileges can be revoked for organizations that don't adhere to the guidelines above.
Did You Know?
In 1964, Apollo astronauts came to Big Bend National Park to study volcanic geology so that they could identify the geologic structures and processes that they might see on the moon. More...