Categories: CampingDestinations

Is Big Bend National Park Worth Visiting?

Yes, Big Bend National Park in Texas is beautiful and definitely worth visiting. That’s the short answer.

Big Bend National Park is America’s fifteenth largest national park, boasting 801,163 acres of protected land, making it the largest protected portion of the Chihuahuan desert in the United States. More than 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, 11 species of amphibians, and 75 species of mammals —including javelinas, mule deer, coyotes, mountain lions, and black bears — live in Big Bend. Outdoor activities in the park include hiking, biking, fishing, stargazing, bird watching, river rafting, and horseback riding.

But this park is located 300 miles east of El Paso, Texas (the closest major city), and it can be quite a journey to get there, so is it worth your time?

Again, we say: yes!

To show why Big Bend is worth visiting, we asked Andrew Miller, an adventure seeker based in Texas Hill Country, to give us a peek into his camping and backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park. Below are Miller’s gorgeous photos and the reasons why he says this national park in Texas is well worth a visit.

Big Bend is worth visiting to experience the US portion of the Chihuahuan desert. (Photo: Andrew Miller)

As luck would have it, I was able to spend 8 days and 7 nights camping in the backcountry of Big Bend, and these are the photos I captured. Most of these photos are from the southeast area of the park.

Big Bend is worth visiting to experience this visually unique desert landscape

Over the past 26 years, I’ve explored several of America’s different wilderness landscapes, including the beaches of the East Coast, the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. That said, one landscape that consistently fascinates more than any other is the desert of the American West. These alien-planet landscapes with their strange flora and fauna, cause me to wonder what the region’s earliest visitors felt as they first encountered such unusual and hostile terrain.

Big Bend’s Santa Elena Canyon is a must-see, making it worth the visit

One of Big Bend’s most popular attractions is Santa Elena Canyon. Carved by the Rio Grande over the last several centuries, Santa Elena Canyon forms a unique portion of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The walls of the cliffs reach a staggering 1,500 feet in some places. According to the National Park Service, many park visitors enjoy paddling paddling upstream from the Santa Elena Canyon Trailhead, and then returning back downstream on the Rio Grande. I enjoyed taking in the views from within the canyon and skipping stones across the border at the cliffs on the Mexican side.

Texas and Big Bend have plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts

While the outdoor community may not have historically given Texas the amount of attention it deserves, this is starting to change in recent years. Big Bend had a record number of visitors in 2017 — more than 440,000 people.

The Lone Star State has more to offer than people may expect. From swimming holes, to hot springs and beach camping, dinosaur fossils, world class bouldering, and state and national parks with an unbelievable amount of hiking trails, Texas is full of memorable outdoor experiences. Come and see it for yourself!

For more of Andrew’s adventures, check out his Exposure or follow him on Instagram. Start exploring Texas camping options now!

Find out more about camping in Texas

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Ada Ciuca is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor enamored with creating lifestyle content. You're probably saying her name wrong.

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