News Release

Changes to Big Bend Camping Fees and Reservations

primitive campsite in Big Bend NP
Primitive campsite in Big Bend National Park

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News Release Date: December 18, 2019

Contact: Tom VandenBerg, 432-477-1107

Contact: Allison Christofis, 432-477-1121

UPDATE 1-30-20

To ensure that the online permitting system for backcountry campsites is fully functional, the implementation has been slightly delayed until Friday, February 7th, at 9:00 am CST via www.recreation.gov or through the call center at 1-877-444-6777

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TX –To make it easier for park visitors to plan ahead and enjoy remote Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, the National Park Service (NPS) will soon be implementing a number of changes to improve the visitor experience.  

“We’ve heard loud and clear that people want us to expand the park’s reservation system, and I’m excited that we’re able to respond,” said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “The reservation system will allow many visitors to plan their stays ahead of time and guarantee they have a campsite when they arrive. These changes benefit the visitor and will generate increased revenue for the NPS to reinvest in visitor services and deferred maintenance here at Big Bend.” 

Increased Reservations for Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin Campgrounds
To reduce the frustration of driving all the way to Big Bend, only to find that all campground sites are full, the park will significantly increase the number of campsites available for reservations online via www.recreation.gov or via phone at 1-877-444-6777. Beginning 9:00 am CST on January 15, 2020, two thirds of the campsites in the Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin Campgrounds will be reservable up to 6 months in advance. One third of the sites will remain on a first-come first served basis. Cottonwood Campground will continue to operate as entirely first-come, first served.

New Reservations for Backcountry Camping**
In order to better serve park visitors by decreasing wait times at visitor centers and to allow for more opportunities to plan ahead, beginning 9:00 am CST on February 1st, a selection of primitive backcountry campsites will be included in the online reservation system available through www.recreation.gov or via phone at 1-877-444-6777. **UPDATE: New Date For Implementation: Friday, February 7th at 9:00 am CST.

The first 58 sites to pilot this change will include the popular, centrally-located primitive car camping sites and designated backpacking sites in the Chisos Mountains. Roadside sites to be included are those at: Grapevine Hills, Paint Gap, Croton Spring, K-Bar, Hannold Draw, Nine-point Draw, Nugent Mountain, Pine Canyon, Robbers Roost, and Twisted Shoe.

Visitors will be able to review the various campsites, check for availability, plan a backcountry itinerary, and obtain a permit for specific backcountry campsites before heading out to Big Bend. Reservations will be available year-round, up to 6 months in advance. Following this initial phase-in period, additional backcountry sites may be added to gradually expand the opportunities available for reservation.

Camping Fee Changes
Beginning January 1, a number of changes to Big Bend National Park camping fees will be enacted. Those who already have campground reservations will not be affected.

  • Developed Campground fees will increase from $14 per night to $16 per night.
  • Backcountry Permits (backpacking, primitive roadside, and overnight river trips) will change from $12 per permit to $10 per night.
  • Group Campsite fees will change to a nightly per site fee, rather than a nightly per person fee. The nightly rate is based on site capacity:
    • Sites accommodating up to 14 people, $40 per night.

    • Sites accommodating up to 25 people, $60 per night.

    • Sites accommodating up to 40 people, $100 per night.

Holders of the Interagency Senior Pass (US citizens aged 62+) or Access Pass (permanently disabled US citizens) receive 50% discounts on camping, not to include the group campsites.

The increased revenue will be utilized to provide the contracted online reservation service through www.recreation.gov, improve camping and other visitor facilities parkwide, and help reduce Big Bend’s $90 million backlog of deferred maintenance.

In September-October 2019, NPS staff conducted public outreach for proposed increased reservations and camping fee increases at Big Bend. Hundreds of comments were received and support for these proposals was clearly indicated. The NPS also completed a campground comparability study that indicated an increase in camping/backcountry fees was appropriate. While the fee increase makes the campsites comparable to similar options, it also helps offset the fees charged by the contracted reservation service.

For more information about Big Bend's fee structure, please visit www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fees.htm



Last updated: February 7, 2020

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Mailing Address:

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

Phone:

432-477-2251

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