Consider including a visit to one or more of these special locations along with your other planned activities. Stop in at any of the park's visitor centers to obtain all the information necessary for a safe and enjoyable experience.
As the northern gateway to the park, many visitors pass through Persimmon Gap as they enter Big Bend. A visitor center and picnic area are located here. Along the road from Panther Junction to Persimmon Gap are a number of roadside exhibits, including the Fossil Discovery Exhibit area. The 14-mile Dagger Flat Auto Trail provides a scenic exploration of the desert environment, ending in a forest of Giant Dagger Yuccas; this dirt road requires a high clearance vehicle.
Ringed by massive cliffs and superlative views, the Chisos Basin is Big Bend's year-round focal point. Located at 5,400 feet, mild temperatures make the Basin a pleasant place to visit in the summer heat.
Numerous trails begin in the basin, and range from short walks to longer backcountry hikes. The paved, 0.3 mile Window View Trail provides an excellent place to view the mountain peaks or watch an evening sunset.
There are a number of services in the Basin including the lodge, restaurant, and camper store. A 60-site campground is located in the lower portion of the developed area. Evening programs are often held in the outdoor amphitheater located adjacent to the campground. Stop in at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center for more information on what to see and do.
Castolon Historic District
The west side of the park offers stunning desert views and opportunities to explore the history of the region. The Castolon Historic District provides a glimpse into Big Bend's complex past through exhibits and historic adobe buildings. The Castolon Historic District has a visitor center (open seasonally), a small store, and exhibits inside the historic Magdelena House. Cottonwood campground, located nearby, provides a quiet, riverside camping experience. Picnic tables are located at the Castolon Store, Cottonwood Campground, and the Santa Elena Canyon Trailhead.
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is the backbone of this part of the park and provides access to numerous hikes and scenic overlooks. At the end of the paved road is Santa Elena Canyon, one of the most famous landmarks of Big Bend; a short trail leads into the canyon.
Rio Grande Village
Rio Grande Village is the center of visitor activity during the winter months. Great scenery, warm temperatures, abundant wildlife, and full visitor services make this a must-see location for any Big Bend outing. Rio Grande Village has a National Park Service campground and visitor center, and a concession-operated camper store, laundry, and shower facility. The concession also runs the Rio Grande Village RV Campground, the only campground with full hook-ups.
Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
Daniels Ranch Picnic Area
Hot Springs Historic District
For those visitors with a valid passport, a visit to the small border village of Boquillas del Carmen is always a memorable experience. From the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry near Boquillas Canyon, it is only a short rowboat ride to Mexico ($5 per person). Once on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, you have the option of walking to the village (1/4 mile) or paying an additional fee to ride on a burro, horse, or in a vehicle.
Last updated: August 3, 2021