Backcountry Water Sources
NPS Photo/Eric Leonard
Big Bend is a desert park; water is precious, ephemeral, and unpredictable.Dry desert air quickly uses up the body's water reserves. Carry a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day. Use available water sources in the backcountry only to augment the water supply you carry (filter all water taken from the backcountry). Cache water for long excursions such as the hiking the Outer Mountain Loop. Never stake your life on intermittent water sources.
Springs and tinajas (depressions in rock where water collects) are unreliable and may be unsafe to drink. Springs are rare in the desert and wildlife depend on them. Please carry enough water to supply your own needs.
The quality of water in the Rio Grande through the Big Bend region is highly variable. We reccomend drinking river water only as a last resort.
Did You Know?
Tornillo Creek drains the eastern portion of Big Bend National Park. The usually dry creek bed is named for the screwbean (tornillo) mesquite. For brief periods after summer thunderstorms, this desert stream roars. Tornillo Creek joins the Rio Grande at Hot Springs. More...