The first stop on our three week van life trip was Big Bend National Park. I’ll be honest, pictures don’t do it justice. Colton and I both were in awe that Texas had mountains and landscape this beautiful. There is so much to do and see, we didn’t even scratch the surface. This guide will give you an idea of how to plan a couple of nights in Big Bend.
About Big Bend
Big Bend National Park is located in west Texas along the Rio Grande river. From parts of the park, you can see Mexico just across the river. The Chisos Mountains are the center of Big Bend and make Big Bend the only national park with a complete mountain range. Entrance for a week is $25, or you can purchase an $80 all national park year access pass. Colton and I just added several more national parks to our trip itinerary now that
Where to stay in Big Bend
We spent the first two nights of our road trip in Lajitas and Big Bend.
Lajitas Golf and Spa Resort
About 45 minutes outside of Big Bend is a town called Lajitas with a beautiful golf and spa resort and RV campground called Maverick Ranch. Since camping at Big Bend is first come, first serve, we were not sure if we would get a spot in the park and booked our first night here. This place is RV camping at it’s finest. Every space has a beautiful view and one night is only $39.
The restrooms are located in the clubhouse and were unlike any camping restrooms I have seen. Every shower has it’s own private toilet and sink. There’s a large meeting room, media room, and pool located on site. I didn’t want to leave.
Chisos Basin Campground
Big Bend has several campsite locations throughout the park. I recommend staying at Chisos Basin. The park ranger told us it was 15° cooler at this part of the mountain than everywhere else. Considering it got up to over 100° this was extremely helpful information. This is the most popular campsite in Big Bend. We got one of the last spots when we arrived. Once you locate a camping spot, you reserve it for $14/night at the self-service station.
Not to mention, you are surrounded by mountains, so the views are unlike any other. There are no showers on site, so bring along your camping wipes. Chisos Basin also does not have electric or water hookups. They do have a dish washing station that makes cleaning a breeze.
We loved staying here and can’t wait to come back. The campsites are large and all offer beautiful views.
What to do
Big Bend National Park has over 150 miles of hiking trails. As much as we wanted to, we were unable to hike all 23 trails. However, we did do a few of them. There are 11 desert hikes, 7 mountain hikes, and 5 river hikes.
Lost Mine Trail
Lost Mine Trail is a 4.8 mile trail (2.4 miles to the top and back) that leads to the top of one of the Chisos mountains. They labeled it a moderate hike because parts of the trail are rocky and one section is a bit steep. It takes about 3 hours to complete and is completely worth it. When you get to the top, you have a 360° view of Big Bend.
Hot Springs Trail
This short hike is just a mile (.5 miles each way) and pretty flat. You get a great glimpse of some of the historic buildings, including an old hotel and store. Along the trail, you can stop in for a swim in the 105° hot springs for a quick dip. Colton jumped in, but I opted not since it was already 100° outside. The hot springs pour out in to the Rio Grande.
Santa Elena Canyon Trail
This trail takes you to the Santa Elena Canyon. To be honest, we were exhausted at this point and ready to head to Marfa, so we just hiked up to the canyon, grabbed some photos and hiked back. The whole trail is 1.7 miles round trip and takes you through the canyon to the water’s edge.
Take a scenic drive
If hiking isn’t your thing, there are many scenic mountain routes you can take. This is great if you aren’t traveling in a 1978 VW Westfalia that has difficulty going up mountains. Seriously though, roll your window down and take in the views. They are spectacular.
Check back next week for the Marfa, Texas travel guide.
Have you been to Big Bend National Park? What do you recommend? Leave me a comment below.