Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote national parks in the lower 48 states, sitting in the far west corner of Texas. The park straddles the Rio Grande as it curves through rock canyons along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The closest commercial airport to Big Bend National Park sits nearly four hours away in Midland. So once you’re out in Big Bend, you’re out there.
Although it’s not easy to get to, with its mountains, deserts, and rivers, Big Bend is a fantastic destination. Here are five facts you may not have known about the park to help pass the time it takes to drive there.
5. Big Bend Has the Only Mountain Range Contained Entirely Within A National Park
The centerpiece of Big Bend is the Chisos Mountains that rise out of the desert landscape. The mountains stand more than 7,800 feet high. The elevation gives visitors some relief from the Texas heat. The change in climate provides a home for animals like black bears, which aren’t common elsewhere in the state. Cooler still, the Chisos Mountains are contained entirely within Big Bend, the only national park to house a whole mountain range.
4. You Can Easily Visit Mexico From Big Bend National Park
Big Bend sits on the Rio Grande, and crossing the river is often easy by foot, or you can pay $5 for a small boat to bring you across to the Mexican town of Boquillas. The small town has a spot to grab food and drinks, and it even has a shop. The National Park Service says the town will accept U.S. dollars. Be sure to bring your passport, as you’ll need it to enter Mexico and re-enter the U.S. by video call with a border agent.
3. The Park Has Hot Springs
After a long day of hiking, you can relax in the hot springs on the Rio Grande. The springs are the remains of an old bathhouse of a home that existed before Big Bend became a national park. According to park officials, a geothermal process heats the hot springs, which can hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The water also contains dissolved mineral salts, making the experience therapeutic.
2. You Can Take A Boat Through the Santa Elena Canyon
One of the most impressive parts of the park is the Santa Elena Canyon, with 1,500 rock walls that the Rio Grande carves through. You can experience those walls’ size by kayaking or rafting down the river. Multiple guide services bring guests for day trips and longer overnight river adventures.
1. It’s a Real-Life Dinosaur Park
Big Bend is full of history. Visitors will find details about western settlers, indigenous peoples, and history that goes back to the dinosaurs. Paleontologists discovered more than 90 dinosaur species in the park. Some of those artifacts are displayed at the park’s new Fossil Facility Exhibit.