Everything You Need to Know About Big Bend National Park

Did you know Texas actually has mountains? Yeah, me either.

When planning out my National Park trips last year, I saw Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Carlsbad Canyons were all within 10 hours or so of each other which to me is the perfect recipe for a fun road trip. You can check out the details of the entire road trip here.

Route from the airport to Big Bend

Where to Stay:

When looking at where to stay near Big Bend, I found this ghost town that kept being mentioned called Terlingua. I found a hotel there that was a bit more than I normally spend but was so unique I had to book it.

One of the Hotel Rooms at La Posado Milagro

Getting There:

I flew into the Midland/Odessa airport and headed straight for Marathon, Texas once I got my rental car. It’s about 2 hours and 30 minutes to Marathon which is right on the edge of the park. It’s about the last “town” and stop before getting to a visitor’s center inside the park.

In the outdoor area at La Posado Milagro

What to Do:

Chisos Basin – Getting here was my favorite drive of them all. You wind up through the mountains and the view from the top reminded me of something out of Jurassic Park. There’s a lodge here as well as restaurant, visitor’s center, and various hiking trails. When I go back to this park, I will specifically look to do some additional hiking from this area.

Chisos Basin

Santa Elena Canyon – This is where the Rio Grande has carved a path between two huge rock walls. On the right hand side is the US, and on the left is Mexico. You can hike through the water on the US side and overlook the river.

Santa Elena Canyon with Rio Grand Flowing through the Canyon

Rio Grande Overlook – This also has a bunch of hiking in the area and is in a different third of the park from the other two points. You can see the Rio Grande and not far from here is the Boquillas Canyon Trail.

On the way to the Rio Grande Overlook

Planning:

I would recommend spending at least two days in the area, potentially more if you can swing it. You could stay a few nights at La Posado Milagro in Terlingua or at the Gage Hotel in Marathon. There’s also some more eclectic options including camping, RVing, and other options in places like Marfa and Alpine.

If you stay in Terlingua, you have to check out the Starlite theater for dinner and live music. I had the antelope for dinner and the pear margarita and it was the best. The bathrooms are next door in the old jail house.

When to Visit:

I visited in December and it was beautiful. There was no flooding from the rain, the temperature was in the 60s and 70s. There were multiple options for where to stay. I’m sure there’s great reasons to visit in other months but I find the fall and winter months to be best.

Room at Posado Milagro. It had a view of Big Bend through the windows.
In the far left you can see a gap in between two rock walls. This is the Santa Elena Canyon shown above.
Town of Terlinga