Big Bend National Park Is Worth the Effort To Get To It

Nick Reynolds

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The grand Santa Elena Canyon(Caleb Fisher/Unsplash)

In remote southwest Texas and just a stone's throw from Mexico (literally in some cases) you can find Big Bend National Park, a near million acre swath of protected land that features many of the most epic vistas in the state of Texas.

Because of the remoteness of its location, it remains one of the lesser frequented national parks in the United States. For hikers, campers, and tourists who seek solitude and seclusion amidst a spectacular backdrop, Big Bend is hard to beat. On average, Big Bend draws around 450,000 visitors annually. That's about a tenth of what wildly popular Yellowstone National Park brings in every calendar year.

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Big Bend is a far drive for most but experiencing this park is worth the effort(Natalie Rhea/Unsplash)

The nearest big Texas city to the park is El Paso, which is five hours away by car. From Dallas and Houston, it's an eight to nine-hour drive. For most in Texas, it's not exactly a short trip. But it's well worth the effort.

Big Bend is a uniquely diverse landscape that has desert terrain (the Chihuahuan desert), a complete mountain range (Chisos Mountains), and river habitat (Rio Grande). Within its boundaries, it is also home to an abundance of wildlife: Black bears, mountain lions, foxes, badgers, bats, tarantulas, and western diamondback rattlesnakes are just a few of the many creatures that call Big Bend National Park home. And we can't forget the birds that inhabit the park, well over 400 on record of which have been seen.

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Big Bend National Park is full of breathtaking vistas(Andrew Jenkins/Unsplash)

Naturally, the park is a haven for hikers. Some of the most popular trails include the Santa Elena Canyon trail, Hot Springs trail (where you can take a nice warm soak in the springs along the way), Lost Mine trail, Window trail, and South Rim trail. All of these offer dramatic views of the park. If you're not keen on putting in the effort for a hike, you can still see jaw-dropping views of Big Bend from the cozy confines of your vehicle. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is a 30-mile long drive, and it's one of the most beautiful drives in the entire state. Meanwhile, kayakers can paddle their way along the Rio Grande and through the heart of the Santa Elena Canyon as 1,500-foot walls tower above you from each side.

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The spectacular Big Bend night sky(Juan Nino/Unsplash)

The region also offers some of the darkest night skies in the entire lower 48, which makes stargazing here a must. Looking up into Big Bend's star-blanketed, expansive night sky is a profound experience that will have you pondering the mysteries of the universe.

If you live in Texas, this majestic park is a must-see. In fact, it's a must-see regardless of what state you live in. It's a special place.

Put it on your list and get there someday. You won't regret it.

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Freelancer in Dallas. A focus on all things DFW and the state of Texas.

Dallas, TX
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