Natural History

Big Bend is famous for its natural resources and spectacular geology. The park's varied array of habitats support more than 1,200 species of plants (including some 60 cacti species), 11 species of amphibians, 56 species of reptiles, 40 species of fish, 75 species of mammals, over 400 species of birds, and about 3,600 species of insects. The park boasts more types of birds, bats, butterflies, ants, scorpions, and cacti than any other national park in the United States.

From 500-million year old rocks at Persimmon Gap to modern-day windblown sand dunes at Boquillas Canyon, Big Bend preserves tremendous geological diversity. Marine sedimentary rocks, continental sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks, and evidence of the three great North American mountain-building episodes are found within the park boundaries.


Natural History of Big Bend

  • A river runs through a steep-sided canyon.

    The mountains, river and desert of Big Bend create an incredibly diverse landscape.

  • Rain drop on prickly pear pad

    Water defines the desert.

  • A bobcat lays on the ground with its eyes closed.

    Big Bend is one of the most biologically diverse arid regions in the world.

  • A prickly pear in bloom.

    Over 1,200 species of plants are found within Big Bend National Park.

  • Sandstone blocks balance on narrow columns of rock.

    Big Bend is a geologist's paradise.

  • A coiled fossil embedded in stone.

    130 million years of life are preserved in the rocks of Big Bend.

Last updated: November 16, 2023

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129



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