Backpacking in the Chisos Mountains

NPS Photo/Cookie Ballou


Chisos Mountains Backcountry Campsites

Backpackers in the Chisos Mountains can choose from forty-two designated campsites. Use this workbook to see photos and locations of the backcountry campsites.


Backpacking in the Desert

The most remote areas of Big Bend National Park are best left to experienced backpackers. Each year, park rangers respond to desert emergencies when hikers are not prepared for the heat and extreme conditions of the desert. Due to the complex topography and vague trails/routes, a topographic map and a compass/gps are necessary for some hikes. Not for novices, you will need to be fully equipped and physically prepared to pack your gear and water into the desert and camp primitively.

Some of the desert areas of Big Bend National Park are open to wilderness backpacking. A backcountry permit is required. Prospective desert backpackers will need to have all the gear necessary for a safe trip, and be prepared to describe a detailed itinerary to a park ranger. There are limits to the number of backpackers allowed in each area, and a variety of backcountry regulations that must be followed.

Some remote and very rugged backcountry areas of interest include:


Backcountry Use Permits

A Backcountry Use Permit must be obtained from a visitor center in advance for overnight backpacking trips.

Backpacking Group Size Limit
An organized group or individual party may not exceed a 15 person limit. There are currently only two Chisos campsites that can accommodate a group this size. Groups may split into separate campsites however the 15 person size limit cannot be exceeded.

As permits are issued only on a first come, first-served basis, it is best to plan ahead, and have alternative itineraries in mind, especially during peak visitation periods.
Hikers at the rim

Backcountry Preparation and Safety

Knowledge and preparation can increase your comfort level and reduce your chances of injury. For more information visit the backcountry preparation and safety page.


Backcountry Regulations

You are responsible for protecting the resources of the park; these regulations are enforced. For more information visit the backcountry regulations page.


Seasonal Closures

The Southeast Rim Trail and a portion of the Northeast Rim Trail from the Boot Canyon/Southeast Rim junction to a point just north of the NE-4 campsite is closed during the peregrine falcon brooding season from February 1 through May 31 each year. For more information visit the backcountry closures page.

Last updated: January 16, 2020

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Mailing Address:

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


(432) 477-2251

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