Mountain trail riding in Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park encompasses 801,163 acres, an of magnificent contrasts. Visitor can
travel from the Rio Grande with its spectacular canyons and jungle like flood plain up
through Chihuahuan Desert which constitutes the majority of the park, to Chisos Mountains
with cool woodlands. This variation in elevation and temperature makes the Big Bend an
ideal year round park. Big Bend is a challenging place to visit in the summer. May and
June temporaries in the Chisos Mountains can reach 95 degrees. With a diversity of Mexican
and American plants, more than 1,100 plant types are found in the park. Animal life is
just as varied. Desert wildlife is mostly nocturnal, but deer, coyotes, javelinas, gray
fox, skunks, raccoons and jackrabbits might be seen during the day. Lucky visitors might
spot some of the rarer animals, such as ringtail, black bear, beaver and mountain lion.
More than 430 bird species have been identified, more than at any other national park.
Birds include the cute and cuddly road runner, area the raucous gray-breasted jay,
beautiful hummingbirds, and the rare Colima warbler whose only U.S. nesting grounds are in
the Chisos Mountains.
One hundred million years ago, this area was under a ocean. 65
million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the area, sharing land and air with other ancient
creatures, such as the Big Bend Pterodactyl, largest flying creature ever known, with an
estimated 51-foot wingspan. Big Bend is a geological showplace where erosion has exposed
geological structures from the simplest to most complex. In this overwhelming landscape,
even the non geologist will sense the magnitude of time and forces that shaped the land.
It is a vast land full of much vastness that invites vast exploring,
not a park that can be seen in just a few hours. Several hundred miles of trails range
from short, easy nature walks to primitive trails for experienced hikers. More than 100
miles of paved roads and about 170 miles of dirt roads are in the park; check with any
ranger for current conditions of all primitive, back country and graded roads before
attempting to travel.
A permit is required for all back country and primitive camping;
also for all river users. Free permits may be obtained at Park Headquarters or ranger
Pet owners take note: Pets are not permitted on any trail and must
be kept on a leash at all times. In fact, pets aren't allowed outside developed areas,
meaning campgrounds and roadsides. Also, because of wild animals roaming the park, do not
leave any pet unattended. Sometimes pets do get eaten, and then Fluffy isn't fluffy any
more! Also, because of extreme heat, do not leave pets locked in cars. Animals left in
vehicles during the summer cook easily. It's best to leave your pets at home.
Rangers present walks and illustrated talks throughout the year.
Basic facilities in the park include visitor centers, post office,
National Park Service campgrounds, a trailer park, store / gas stations, and a restaurant
/ gift shop / lodge in the Chisos Mountains Basin. Lodging is available in 58 motel type
rooms in eight lodge type units, plus six more rustic type cottages all located in the
Basin type area of the park. Advance reservations are strongly advised throughout the ear,
especially around holidays and during spring break. Write Chisos Mountains Lodge, Basin
Rural Station, Big Bend National Park, Texas 79834. Phone 915/477-2291.
Accessible from Marathon via U.S. 385 (70 miles), from Alpine via
Texas 118 (108 miles), from Marfa / Presidio via U.S. 67 and F.M. 170 (156 miles).
For further information, write Superintendent, Big Bend National
Park, Texas 79834.
Phone (915) 477-2291.
Big Bend National Park Visitor Centers -
Information maps, literature, exhibits. visitor center in lobby of
Park headquarters at Panther Junction open year round, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Visitor centers in
Chisos Basin, Persimmon Gap, and Rio Grande Village open seasonally, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Hallie's Hall of Fame Museum -
Houses mementos and relics found on Hallie Stillwell's ranch. Mrs.
Stillwell's book, "I'll Gather My Geese," recalls her life as a teacher and
rancher in and around the rugged national park lands. Nearby is Stillwell RV Park and
Store. Just north of Big Bend to F.M. 2627, then east to the facilities. (915)376-2244.
Rio Grande Float Trips -
The National Park Service advises there are several licensed
outfitters who provide river float trip or wilderness excursions in Big Bend National
Park. An approved list can be obtained from the park.
Scenic Drive -
"El Camino del Rio", Spanish for "The River
Road", is local name for F.M. 170 that stretches from Lajitas northeast to Presidio
and beyond. An excellent paved route, it's one of the most spectacular drives in Texas,
plunging over mountains and canyons along the fabulous sun drenched Rio Grande. Drivers
are cautioned that the route encounters steep grades (15%), sharp curves, occasional loose
livestock and low-water crossings; special alert for large RV's or vehicles pulling large
For lodging in the area visit our friends at:
The Gage Hotel
For more information visit our friends at VisitBigBend.com