Travel

Big Bend Travel Guide

June 13, 2017
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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Our campsite

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

Hike

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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PIN for later

Have you been to Big Bend National Park? What do you recommend?  Leave me a comment below.

  • Julie Hood June 13, 2017 at 6:29 am

    That sounds like such an incredible trip!! I can’t believe you can see Mexico from that park in Texas! My husband and I would love to travel to TX and will have to add that to our list of things to do there 🙂

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      There are so many great places in Texas. This isn’t too terribly far from Austin, so you can add it on a trip there.

  • Caitlin Patoka June 13, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Gorgeous photos! My husband loves hiking and he would absolutely love this. Sounds like you picked a great place to stay too.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Thank you, Caitlyn. It’s such a beautiful place!

  • Kimberly June 13, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Whoa…that is unbelievably beautiful.
    I have never visited a hot springs before (Or Big Bend for that matter) but I would love to try one. That is definitely on my bucket list.
    How small did you feel standing in the middle of all that gorgeous scenery? Simply amazing!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Hot Springs Arkansas is a great place to visit. You should add that to your bucket list. The one here was fine, just super tiny and not much too it (plus it was 100 degrees outside). I felt so small. Everything is so vast and beautiful.

  • Amy Blake June 13, 2017 at 7:09 am

    This looks like an amazing trip! We are planning a family camping trip ourselves this year. It won’t be as spectacular as yours, but we are taking a 2 and 3 1/2 year old.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      That will be a ton of fun! Buy husband grew up camping and all of his favorite memories as a kid come from camping stories.

  • Tanvi Rastogi June 13, 2017 at 7:13 am

    So much beauty! Love your pictures. I have never visited but it is on my list 🙂

    ❥ tanvii.com

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Thank you! It is such a gorgeous spot.

  • Divya June 13, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Gorgeous pictures! Camping is one of my favorite things to do but it’s been a while since we’ve done it – tent and all. You’ve inspired me to pull some things out of storage!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Awh, yay! You should definitely plan a trip soon.

  • Jessica Lam June 13, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Big Bend looks absolutely stunning! Love all of your photos!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you so much. It really is a gorgeous spot.

  • Penny Struebig June 13, 2017 at 9:19 am

    What a great adventure! And your van — OH.MY.GOODNESS!! It’s adorable.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you, Penny!! We love it!

  • Sara June 13, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I love that this is in Texas! Great pictures and post–you made me want to check it out. Thanks!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Than you, Sara. It’s really a beautiful spot.

  • Jenna Urben June 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    This looks beautiful and your photos are amazing. I can’t wait to read your Marfa travel guide! I visited Marfa, Alpine, and Marathon YEARS ago. I hope you get to see the Marfa lights and artwork by Judd – very cool place!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      So awesome!! Yeah, we had fun in Marfa, but almost everything was closed. 🙁 We didn’t get to the Judd Museum, but did see the lights. 🙂 Post will be up Tuesday.

  • D at Be you and thrive June 13, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Jessica!! Love love these travel photos and information! Thanks for sharing. I agree with Penny above, adorable van! xo~D

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you!! We had so much fun. Our van is quite the finicky one. haha.

  • Mia June 13, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Wow, those photos are breathtakingly beautiful! 🙂 And I love your van. I’d love to do some exploring like that with my family.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      Aww. Thank you. It helps being married to a photographer.

  • Kathryn Dickson June 13, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Looks so great! Love your Volkswagon!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you! We like her a lot too!

  • Rachel Ritlop June 13, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Wow you took some awesome photos! Looks like you had a great trip!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you, Rachel! It was so fun.

  • Diana williams June 13, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Thats very beautiful places, because i love to travel, i think you had a great trip ever..!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you, Diana.

  • Guru June 14, 2017 at 5:02 am

    What an amazing place to visit in Texas. Very well suited for trekking. I’ll add this place to my bucket list.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      You will love it!

  • Lisa June 14, 2017 at 7:05 am

    This looks like so much fun! I’m hoping to take a trip out there after seeing this!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      It’s such a neat place, and so different from the traditional flat Texas landscape.

  • Shannon Morscheck June 14, 2017 at 8:53 am

    What a gorgeous spot! Looks like you had an amazing time. So fun!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      It was a blast!

  • Stephanie Suire June 14, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Beautiful pics! I’ve always wanted to visit Big Bend but have never made the trip. Thanks for the great tips.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      It’s such an awesome spot. You should take the family. So much to do and so fun that it’s in Texas. 🙂

  • Bridget @ Antics of a Nutty Hiker June 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

    This will be perfect when we get ready to go. We live about 9 hours away near Austin and plan on going next Spring Break!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      Awesome! I hope you love it and have a fantastic time!!

  • Ruthie June 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Big Bend looks absolutely stunning! Love all of your photos!! I can’t wait to take my fam one day!!

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      It’s really incredible.

  • Rachel Ritlop June 14, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Big Bend looks so amazing! You took some great shots!

  • Joanie @ One Dish Kitchen June 15, 2017 at 10:16 am

    What a beautiful place to visit. I live in Houston and have never visited Big Bend but definitely need to. Putting it on our list of places to visit soon.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      You absolutely should!! Such a great place with so much beauty.

  • Sue Tanya McHorgh June 15, 2017 at 10:39 am

    This looks like a good trip idea for the summer 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Of course!

  • Shivranjani Rathorew June 15, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I am bookmarking this! Big Bend is on my list. Also, your van is goals.
    http://www.thevagabondwayfarer.com

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Aww, thanks. She’s a handful but we love her.

  • Kaitlynn June 16, 2017 at 3:32 am

    this looks like such a beautiful park! that’s so cool that you can see Mexico in some parts. I would love to visit some day

    • Jessica June 16, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      You absolutely should. Such a neat place.

  • Jackie June 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    It’s odd how we(me at least) forget how beautiful our country is. I tend to travel abroad a lot and yet to explore mine. Will be doing more of that this year hopefully and just added big bend😊

    • Jessica June 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Yes! My husband and I have talked about that this whole trip. 🙂