Big Bend State Park is a wonderland of wilderness with awe-inspiring beauty and challenges for adventurers who love the great outdoors. With this kind of beauty in nature come dangerous animals and poisonous creatures, not to mention harsh and changeable weather conditions. You need to enter the park prepared and ready for anything Mother Nature might throw at you.
Expect rough mountains, deep canyons and stunning views both day and night. The park on the Rio Grande in Brewster and Presidio counties covers over 300,000 acres making it the biggest state park in Texas. The rocky landscape reveals stories of dramatic volcanic activity that happened 15 to 30 million years ago.
Spring or autumn is the best time of year to visit Big Bend National Park. However, keep in mind the desert can be harsh and extreme in the other seasons. In summer, temperatures can reach a staggering 100 degrees and in winter, it can be freezing and snowy.
Big Bend State Park is a magnet for nature photographers and videographers who are attracted to the dramatic landscapes and abundance of nature. Adventure lovers flock there for outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and horse riding. Sightseers can also enjoy water activities and exploring the area in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at all the exciting things there are to see and do in Big Bend State Park in America. For sure they won’t be a dull moment on this nature-filled trip!
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For hikers, Big Bend has an experience for every fitness level. Easy interpretive walks are ideal for beginner hikers or families with children, while multi-day explorations are made for more experienced hikers who know how to survive out in the wilderness. With miles of scenic hiking trails, there really is something for everyone.
Hiring a guide is highly recommended for newbie hikers who want to have the best experience possible and have the reassurance of a professional who knows the area, first aid, and rules of the park.
A recommended hike is the 1.4 miles round trip of Closed Canyon. The walk through the rocky canyon is great for beginner to intermediate level hikers, and you can’t really go lost unless you try to go rock climbing. The Hoodoos And Balanced Rocks Trail is also fairly easy, with lots of interesting rock formations along the way. One part of the trail leads near to the river and the views are wonderful.
There’s nowhere more exhilarating to get on your bike than Big Bend State Park. Ride along scenic highways or go mountain biking through challenging terrain with miles of designated mountain bike trails to explore. Guided mountain biking tours are a great way to go for beginning and intermediate bikers, and you can rent a bike and equipment if you aren’t traveling on your own.
Riding a horse is a unique way to see Big Bend as well as an excellent way to get some exercise. Booking a tour is the easiest way to arrange horse riding in the area. Some companies are offering a combination of activities. For example, you could be horse riding one day and paddling down the river the next day. This could be a highlight of your trip.
The Rio Grande River awaits with watery adventures like rafting, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Fishing is also a popular activity and you can get your dinner at the same time. You should be aware there are alligators in the river, so just make sure you aren’t the one for dinner! If in doubt, book a tour or use a professional guide. There are plenty of companies offering trips and tours.
Take To The Skies
If you don’t mind small planes, try a tour in the sky with Rio Aviation Inc. Retired national park ranger Marcos Paredes will be your pilot, and he knows the land like the back of his hand. His colorful description of the stunning views will entertain and delight as he take you on a journey taking in all the major landmarks and scenery.
The night skies can be pretty epic in Big Bend State Park. The park is designated an international dark sky park which means there are exceptional starry nights in an environment protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage and public enjoyment. It also means this is one of the darkest places in the States at night, stargazing amazing. The premium spots for stargazing are on River Road, at the West Contrabando Trailhead, Big Hill and the Hoodoos. It is easy to access these places by vehicle. You might see the Milky Way, shooting stars, comets, and other astrological wonders.
You can drive through Big Bend State Park areas with many scenic places to stop to admire the views. Landmarks and walking trails are signposted well, so it’s easy to stop and enjoy some sights and untamed nature before hitting the road again. A highly recommended route is El Camino del Rio, also known as River Road. Running along the Rio Grande, you get great river views as you drive along the highway. If you didn’t stop for photos, it would take about an hour to drive the 40-mile route, which is so quiet you might not see another vehicle for many miles. Rustic teepee-style tents over picnic tables are dotted along the way, making the perfect place to stop for your pre-packed lunch.
If you love solitude, camping in the Big Bend State Park will deliver the peace and quiet you crave. There are easy-access sites that you can drive to or more hard-to-reach primitive sites that you can hike to or reach by horseback. Make sure you have enough food and water before setting up camp and beware of mountain lions, snakes, and tarantulas that might be curious about your presence.
As you can imagine, the vast Big Bend State Park is home to many featured creatures big and small. For bird watchers, it is a natural paradise with many species to sight. It’s not just birds. There are also insects, reptiles, bugs, fish, and animals living in the park. The desert, mountains, and river environment attract a diverse range of nature and visitors often go home with some National Geographic-worthy moments in their memories. Always keep a good distance from any wild animals. Safety should come first, so don’t risk your health and wellness for the sake of a great photo.
For nature, landscape and wildlife photographers, Big Bend is a place that delivers photogenic sights and scenes every hour of the day. Get up early for those stunning sunrise images, shoot flora and fauna all day, then stay up late for some epic nighttime photography. From wide-angle landscape shots to intricate details images, you can be taking photos constantly. Scrolling through Instagram feeds, you can find some truly remarkable photos and video of Big Bend State Park.
In conclusion, the park is a place that care needs to be taken. Always have clothing for all weather conditions, a first aid kit, and plenty of food and water. Make sure you have a phone with a full battery and let someone know where you will be and when you expect to be back. Safety is paramount in this wild and rugged country. We highly recommend you have travel insurance since many of these activities can be high risk.
Parts of the park are rugged and dense, there are poisonous and dangerous creatures lurking, and the weather can present extreme heat and cold. But if you are informed and prepared it is the most wonderful place to visit. The park’s head office is based in the closest major town of Presidio. The park is managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Brewster and Presidio Counties. They are always helpful to travelers who need info or advice.
On the map, you can find Big Bend Ranch State Park northwest of Big Bend National Park on Highway 170, between Lajitas and Presidio. It is also worth noting there is an airstrip in Big Bend State Park if you plan to arrive by plane. Enjoy this most beautiful part of the earth that is going to give you one of the most memorable vacations of your life.
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