Fun things to do in Big Bend National Park

  • The entrance to the Park
    The entrance to the Park
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  • Further in, this explains the Eocene period
    Further in, this explains the Eocene...
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  • Cacti
    Cacti
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Big Bend National Park

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    Santa Elena Canyon

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Rio Grande has carved out three magnificent canyons in the Park which start and end abruptly - one moment you are in a canyon with over 1000 feet high walls and the next ..... With a car, you can visit the entrance of the Boquillas canyon and the exit of the Santa Elena Canyon, but just like with the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the best way to experience a canyon is on the water.

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    South Rim of the Chisos Mountains

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    OK, I didn't actually have time to hike up here, but you should try and take the time. The views from up here are World class. Try and come during the late Fall through early Spring timeframe to enjoy cooler weather. You can hike to the South Rim in one day from the Basin roadend as it is only 14 miles, but the best pictures are to be taken in the early morning or late day to take full advantage of the natural pallette of colors. There are backcountry campsites up high and this is the main reason I added this tip, to pass on the website to clue you in on the different places available.

    http://www.nps.gov/bibe/bccamps/chisos/chisoscamps.htm for a list of backcountry campsites on and around the South Rim

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    Sotol Vista Overlook

    by Basaic Written Nov 9, 2010

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    Stop at the Sotol Vista Overlook on the way to Santa Elena Canyon. It is 14 miles north of the canyon and gives a nice overall view of Mexico, the canyon and the Rio Grande. At this distance you cannot really gauge the size of the canyon, contrast this view with the one you will get when you arrive at the canyon. Look 360 degrees and you will see the mountains, the foothills, and the desert basins.

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    Homer Wilson Ranch

    by Basaic Written Nov 9, 2010

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    A little farther down the road from the remains of the Sam Nail Ranch, and on the other side of the road, is the Homer Wilson Ranch. This one is much more intact and out in the open. It is also a much better photo opportunity. There is a short drive to the parking area and a bit more of a walk if you want to get a closeup view. It is interesting though and situated in a very pretty area.

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    K Bar Ranch

    by Basaic Updated Nov 2, 2010

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    Another ranch that was established on this land was the K Bar Ranch. The main building for the ranch still exists today and is used as guest housing. There is also a camping area here. The K Bar Ranch area is just North of the main road near Panther Junction.

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    Rio Grande Village

    by Basaic Updated Nov 2, 2010

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    Near the end of the road leading east across the park is Rio Grande Village. This place used to be a lot bigger and busier than it is today. Today there is still a Visitors Center, a small store, a gas station, a picnic area and camping areas. This is also where the trailhead for the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail (which I did not take this trip).

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    Learn About the Plant Life

    by Basaic Updated Nov 2, 2010

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    At the same pullout as the Rio Grande Overlook is a very short nature trail (Note: This is not the same as the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail). There are interpretive signs here explaining the history of the plant life and its uses. Some of the plants included are: Candellia, which produces a waky covering for its branches and leaves to conserve moisture. This wax used to be collected for sale (Photo 1); Hechtia, which grows nowhere else in the US except in Big Bend country (Photo 2); and the familiar (at least in the Southwest US) Prickly Pear Cactus (Photo 3).

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    Rio Grande Overlook

    by Basaic Updated Nov 2, 2010

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    After turning East from US Highway 385 the road leads to Rio Grande Village. Just before you go through the tunnel there is a pulloff for the Rio Grande Overlook. This gives you a nice view of the terrain and the "village".

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    Panther Junction Visitors Center

    by Basaic Written Nov 2, 2010

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    There is another Visitors Center at Panther Jubction. Here too, you can get a map of the park, consult with the rangers on how to best spend you time at the park, and get other information. There is also a gift shop, a theater with informative movies, a small store, and a gas station.

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    Hannold Draw and Graves

    by Basaic Written Nov 2, 2010

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    A little farther South down the road is Hannold Draw. This draw got its name from Curtis and Nina Hannold who homesteaded here in 1908. Curtis taught school in Dugout Wells 8 miles away to make extra money while Nina tended the ranch and raised and educated their three kids. Nina died at the age of 29 during her 4th pregnancy and requested burial near the creek under the Cottonwood Trees where she used to love to take the children to teach their lessons. The grave is still here.

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    Fossil Exhibit

    by Basaic Written Nov 2, 2010

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    One of the first stops along the main road leading South in the park is an exhibit about fossils from the Cretaceous and Tertiary Periods found in the park. The fossils were found in various parts of the park but the largest concentration was near the exhibit. A short trail leads to the top of a hill for a good view of the surrounding terrain. Interpretive signs tell you about the fossils and how they were found. The signs also describe the animals that inhabited the area and the climate changes that have taken place.

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    Fantasic Butes and Mesas

    by Suet Written Sep 22, 2009

    Oh yes! finally I saw them! visions of the old Wild West entered my head, the wagon trail, the attacking indians, the Lone Ranger and Tonto.... it was all here.

    The rock formations are fascinating to see. I did not have time to climb them, but snapped a few pics from the car as I drove past on the endless straight roads across the desert.

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    Fantasic Butes and Mesas

    by Suet Written Sep 22, 2009

    Oh yes! finally I saw them! visions of the old Wild West entered my head, the wagon trail, the attacking indians, the Lone Ranger and Tonto.... it was all here.

    The rock formations are fascinating to see. I did not have time to climb them, but snapped a few pics from the car as I drove past on the endless straight roads across the desert.

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    Chisos Mtn retreat

    by lonestar_philomath Updated Mar 13, 2007

    To escape from the sun you can drive up into the Chisos Mountains in the park. Even though the temperature was around 100 on the desert floor, in the mountains it was 20-30 degrees cooler! On my August 1986 trip, I stayed several nights in a comfortable cabin in the mountains and went on day hikes in the mountains.

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    The Desert

    by lonestar_philomath Updated Mar 13, 2007

    There are many trails throughout the park. Be careful where you step. Only one time while hiking did I come across a snake. I was not afraid because I had visited the park headquarters and seen their snake exhibit. The snake was curled around the base of an ocotillo (a plant). It must have been a good 8-10 feet long and bright red. I know it was a non-poisonous Red Coachwhip and kept my distance as not to disturb it. It was an honor to be in the presence of this beautiful snake. Unfortunately I did not have my camera.

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Big Bend National Park Things to Do

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