• Sierra del Carmen

    Big Bend

    National Park Texas

Safety Considerations for Parents

Boy looking at cactus flowers

"Look; don't touch!"

NPS/Eric Leonard

Big Bend is a wild and natural place with many opportunities to explore nature with your children.

Don't panic; with a few simple precautions you and your family should have a wonderful time getting to know the park.

Have a first-aid kit handy
The Chihuahuan desert is full of plants that stab and stick; a fully equipped first-aid kit with tweezers can be very handy for extracting cactus spines from little bodies.

Drink plenty of water
In the dry environment of the desert, children's bodies use up water faster than adults. On any activity pack along enough water for everyone. Soda pop is not a good alternative to water.

Don't feed the animals
It is a good idea to discuss with your children that the animals living in Big Bend are wild and can be unpredictable. Never allow your children to feed any animal. On occasion, javelina have been known to bite children who get too close.

Mountain Lions & Bears
Because Big Bend is mountain lion country, it's important for parents to keep close watch over their children. Lions are most common in the Chisos Mountains, but have been sighted at all elevations and could appear anywhere. While lions are rarely a threat to adults, young children who are unaccompanied by adults could be in danger.

Require your children to walk with adults, rather than by themselves. If you see a lion, pick up your smallest child. Keep all your children with you and stand as a group. DON'T RUN! Shout and wave your arms above your head. Mountain lion sightings are unusual and exciting, and most people see lions while travelling in their cars. However, be sure you talk to your children about safe behavior before you begin hiking or exploring the park.

The River
The Rio Grande is a surprisingly strong river with unseen undertows and debris on the bottom. Swimming is not recommended. Stay with your children as they explore the river shore, make them keep their shoes on, and don't let them drink the river water. If you or your children are really interested in swimming during a trip to the Big Bend area. consider visiting Balmorhea State Park, three hours to the north.

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