There is something really unique about Big Bend National Park. It carries a lot of majestic features and amazing cultural and historical significance that some parks do not have. Despite essentially being in the middle of nowhere, Big Bend National Park shines in its isolated splendor. Home to otherworldly landscapes, more than thousand plant species, as well as hundreds of birds, reptiles, and mammals, Big Bend National Park is here to take your breath away.
What also makes this national park stand out from other parks that primarily offer natural wonders is its rooted cultural and historical association. It is the largest protected region of the Chihuahuan Desert ecology and topography in the United States, and it also showcases archaeological sites that date back to almost 10,000 years ago, with the remnants of ranchers, miners, and pioneers. If you think that’s the rest of it, this National Park also showcases dinosaur bones and sea fossils. We’re dead serious when we mentioned that Big Bend National Park is just bursting with so many points of interest, like a gift that keeps on giving.
Big Bend National Park
Mailing Address: PO Box 129 Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129
Contact Number: (432)477-2251
Santa Elena Canyon
This list will begin with what is believed to be one of the stars of Big Bend National Park: Santa Elena Canyon. It is known as the most popular destination for overnight or multiple-day itineraries because aside from being a very accessible destination, Santa Elena Canyon is also a serene beauty.
There is something about its postcard-perfect beauty that is truly arresting. This is due to the cliffs forming the canyon wall that tower by as much as 1,500 feet. Being here is like inserting yourself into a different dimension, surrounded by earthen formations that contrast the river that runs through them.
Named after William H. Emory who is the chief surveyor of the U.S. Boundary Survey Team of 1852, Emory Peak is the highest peak of all the Chisos Mountains. It is a popular hiking destination under the moderate category and features well-marked paths and steep and quite rocky terrain. Hikers are generously rewarded with a glimpse of flora and fauna that typically thrive in high-desert regions, which include the pinyon pine, alligator juniper, and the popular prickly pear. You can also find birds, such as the Mexican jay, and even bears and mountain lions.
The Cattail Fails is the hidden highlight of the Cattail Falls Trail. While the trail itself is considered moderate in terms of seasonal traffic, the Cattail Falls veer away from the attention, making it a small piece of lushness and a contrast against the surrounding reddish cliff rocks where you will be welcomed by unique vegetation and landscape. This delicate body of water can dry up during midsummer, but during most seasons, it has delicate, flowing water.
Boquillas Canyon Trail
The Boquillas Canyon Trail is one of the most accessible trails in Big Bend National Park for a number of great reasons. This trail is particularly accessible all year, and its overall terrain welcomes any fitness level. At almost 2 kilometers in length and just 70 meters in elevation gain, it is a beginner-friendly trail that showcases a great view of the riverside. However, its accessibility and easy navigation also attracts a large crowd, especially during peak season, so you should take that into consideration when you are planning to visit Big Bend National Park, specifically Boquillas Canyon Trail.
Window View Trail
If you want a trail that is literally short, sweet, but nothing short of breathtaking, then we would like to present the Window View Trail. This trail is one of the shortest trails out there at approximately 600 meters, yet it is a very welcoming and charming trail that attracts visitors of all physical levels. This almost level-paved trail offers a great view of the rock formation “The Window” and majestic panoramas of the Chisos Mountains. Being a short trail, you can complete it in half an hour or even less.
Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
The Rio Grande Village Nature Trail is one of the most visited loop trails within Big Bend National Park. This nature trail is highly recommended for any fitness level, as the trail itself is not too long at just 1.6 kilometers with a corresponding elevation gain of approximately 37 meters. Be mesmerized by the fields embellished with charming wildflowers. Even better is that the manageable terrain makes it an ideal trail for casual walking, hiking, running, or just a slow-paced nature trip. The best part is that Rio Grande Village Nature Trail is highly accessible and open year-round.
Hot Springs Canyon Trail
Another loop-type trail is the Hot Springs Canyon Trail. While this trail is not as beginner-friendly as other trails in the park as it is classified as a moderate-level hike, visitors will be rewarded with hot springs and a wonderful mix of vegetation and colorful butterflies. Should you consider the Hot Springs Canyon Trail on top of your list, be informed that it can get really hot on this side of the Big Bend National Park, so stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothing while having a change of clothes in your bag should you wish to take a dip.
Casa Grande Peak
Situated at the heart of the entire Big Bend National Park, Casa Grande Peak is one of the most sought-after destinations by experienced hikers among all the peaks within the national park's vicinity. While not considered as the highest, Casa Grande Peak will challenge its visitors with sheer cliffs that reveal arresting summit views. Now, if you want to have a view straight down to the lodge area, this angle can only be achieved by going to one of the false summits. This is truly a challenging yet worthwhile destination.
Lost Mine Trail
The Lost Mine Trail is highly recommended for those who would love to immerse themselves into the distinct structure of plant life and wildlife at the Chisos Mountains. A moderately difficult trail, the Lost Mine Trail is dense with beautiful and towering pine, oak, and juniper. Don't miss the ridge that will give you a fantastic view of Sierra del Carmen and Pine Canyon. Just like other trails, we highly recommend that you bring enough snacks and drinks should you wish to visit this destination as it is one of the more popular points of interest year-round, and it can get crowded a bit quickly.
Grapevine Hills Trail
The Grapevine Hills Trail is a very interesting trail geared toward families with children who would like to have a good hike that is not that physically challenging. This trail follows a particular gravel wash, and there is a slightly steep climb toward the end of this trail that spans about 3 kilometers. The highlight of this trail, Grapevine Hills, is known as an exposed laccolith or a mushroom-shaped rock formation molded by nature for many years. Be careful though, because even though the rocks are very tempting to climb on, snakes tend to stay in the spaces and crevices as they look for shade.
Big Bend National Park is an isolated gem of a national park. It tastefully combines its unique environment with rich culture and history that makes it a unique destination worth visiting.