The vibe at Rio Grande Village Campground
Drop some Rio Grande Village Campground knowledge on us.
Rio Grande Village is an interesting close quarters mix of tent camping and RV sites. The Tent camping is in the far east side of the site and has good wind cover. If you are tent camping, be sure to set up inside the "no generator zone" so you're not kept up all night by the RV campers. This site is super windy as it sits in a large valley. Typical wind speeds of 15mph or higher.
Rio Grande Village has the most openings and largest sites if you drop in to Big Bend National Park without a reservation. Less busy than Chisos Basin sites. We were planning on backcountry camping--which is first-come, first-serve--but were not able to get passes the first two nights. Winter is their busy season (the desert gets hot!), so go to Rio Grande Village first to nab a spot. It is by Boquillos Canyon (where you can cross the border to the small town), with the Sierra del Carmen range as a backdrop at the camp sites. Boquillos Hot Springs (a must after-hike soak) only a quarter-mile hike from a mile unpaved, but low-clearance drive off the main road. Expect to find handmade Mexican gifts there and petroglyphs.
We stayed here on Oct 29, 2014. They water the area by floor so make sure you pitch your tent on high ground. We saw javelina out and about most of the night. You also want to make sure you keep your smellables either in the car or bear box to keep the javelinas from visiting your tent. What is a smellables? http://www.e-scoutcraft.com/activities/philmont_way.pdf
Honestly this campground is about a 45 minute drive to many of the iconic hikes and sights at Big Bend so if camping here it's important to account for the travel time when planning out hikes. All of the campsites are very close together and sound carries so it's important not to get too rowdy (as our neighbors did and kept us up most of the night on multiple occasions). The sites are located in a basin and so the sunsets and rises are very attractive and the chance to see jack rabbits is at peak. Reserving sites can be tricky as this is a very large park without a lot of camping areas so if you want to camp there you need to reserve months in advance.
Rio Grande Village is similar to Cottonwood Campground but offers more sites. There are Javelina warning signs on every picnic table so make sure to keep your food stored in the car or bear box offered at each site. Nearby attractions are Boquillas Canyon, Hot Springs and Rio Grande Village Nature Trail.
We recently stayed at the Rio Grande campground because the Chisos Campground was closed due to a fire. The campsites were a bit closer to each other than we prefer, but thankfully we had quiet neighbors. It can be close to 50 degrees hotter here than in the Chisos, so be sure to get a site with tons of shade. Make sure you hit up the hot springs just down the road!
$16 to stay, even though there are no hookups. There are a couple of restrooms, and water spigots. Close access to several trails, including the Hot Springs Trail. General Store nearby with wifi connection (no service in the campground). Close to port-of-entry to Boquillas, Mexico. Worth the trip across the river ($5 row boat).