Backcountry Regulations

Southwest 4 (SW-4)
Backpackers in the Chisos

NPS Photo/Big Bend National Park


YOU are responsible for protecting the resources of YOUR park;
these regulations are strictly enforced.

  • Use or discharge of firearms is prohibited. All wildlife is protected by federal law.
    Possession of other weapons, traps, or explosives is prohibited.
  • Groundfires and woodfires are prohibited.
    High Chisos and Zone Camping—use containerized fuel stoves only.
    Backcountry Roadside Campsites—use only pressed charcoal briquets within a BBQ grill. Pack out all evidence of cold charcoal ash.
  • Food Storage
    All food, water, food products, food trash, unclean cooking utensils and other aromatic items must be stored in a hard-sided vehicle, or where provided, a bear resistant storage locker. If backpacking in the open desert, attend your food, water, and aromatic items by keeping them packed up and within immediate reach. Consider preparing and eating food a distance from your sleeping area. Keep your campsite clean at all times.

    The caching of food and water is prohibited unless items are stored within a bear resistant storage container that has been certified and approved by the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG) or the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC). For more information visit the backcountry food storage page.
  • Contain your trash and pack it out.
    Animals are attracted to trash. Use bear proof storage boxes when you are away from your site and pack out all trash when you break camp, including cigarette butts and toilet paper.
  • No pets on trails or in the backcountry.
    Pets may harm or be harmed by wildlife and can attract predators. Pets are not allowed on park trails; pets can go only where vehicles go. Read more about bringing your pet to Big Bend.
  • Do not take shortcuts on trails.
    Cross-country hiking is allowed, but when on a marked trail, do not take shortcuts.
  • Collecting or disturbing any natural or historical feature or object is prohibited.
    Leave park features intact for others to enjoy.
  • Contaminating natural water sources and their surroundings is prohibited. Camp at least 100 yards from any water source.
    Desert water sources and springs are fragile and vital for the plants and animals that depend on them for survival. Soaps, oils, skin lotions, and food residues from bathing and washing can seriously impact water quality. Minimize your impact to areas surrounding springs, seeps, and other temporal water sources.
  • Camp within designated sites.
    Set up tents only on bare ground, not plants, within the area outlined by rocks, logs or brush.
  • Generator use is not permitted in backcountry campsites.
    Natural quiet is a protected resource; help preserve a quiet wilderness experience.
  • Wilderness camping: Be at least 0.5 mile and out of sight from any road and at least 100 yards from any trail, historical structure, archeological site, dry wash, or cliff edge.
    Minimize your impact to the natural landscape.
  • Bury human waste at least 6 inches deep. Pack out toilet paper.
    Human waste is unsightly and unsanitary. Carry a digging trowel. Locate latrines 0.25 mile from any water source and well away from camp.
  • Motorized vehicles and bicycles are permitted only on designated public roads.
    Off-road vehicle travel causes visual and environmental damage.
  • Do not feed wildlife.
    Feeding wildlife is illegal; it often results in rangers having to destroy the animal. Keep food, ice chests and cookgear in a hard-sided vehicle or food storage locker where provided. Don't leave food containers unattended.

Last updated: November 7, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

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


(432) 477-2251

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