Destination: Big Bend
Big Bend National Park is an 800,000-acre geological masterpiece graced with hidden vistas, shadowy canyons, stunning mountains, and an incredible range of animal species. Located in one of the most remote areas of Texas, it’s perfect for a peaceful getaway.
How To Get There
One of the best parts about a trip here is the drive—there’s nothing like watching the Texas landscape go by while driving along a scenic road. Big Bend is an extremely remote area, so if you want to avoid frustration and wasting money, it’s important to plan your route before you leave. One of the fastest ways to get there is to take I-10 through to San Antonio to Fort Stockton, then go south to the park. Make sure to pack snacks and have good playlists ready. Arcade Fire and Brandon Flowers tend to make road trips fly by.
If the nine-hour drive doesn’t sound appealing, there’s now a second travel option. Non-stop flights from Houston to Big Bend began on February 25. Resort Air Services will fly out of Hobby Airport and land at Lajitas International Airport, which is about 120 miles from Marfa. Round-trip tickets are $400 for adults and $99 for children and run Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return flights on Fridays.
What to Do
Whether you’re a lone adventurer or looking for a group-led tour, there’s something exciting for everyone:
Birding: Big Bend holds the honor of being the most bio-diverse park in the entire system. More than 450 avian species migrate through the park at some point during the year. The Rio Grande is an important migratory flyway and a destination for bird-watchers.
Hiking: The park is a dream for hikers. There’s no permit required on the campgrounds, and the 150 miles of trails are open. Visitors can do guided tours or venture out on their own, but always make sure to plan ahead and pay attention to signs indicating routes to avoid. Big Bend Expeditions offers tours and information on how to prepare for hikes in a range of difficulty levels.
Horseback: Take a tour for an hour, or, if you’re up for the ride, several days, via horseback. Big Bend Stables is one of several companies on the trail that offer the guided tour.
River Excursions: Hit one of the five river canyons in Big Bend—each has a different level of ease. The beautiful Santa Elena Canyon, an extremely popular option, features the tallest cliffs—1,500 feet, to be exact—and they separate Texas and Mexico along the Rio Grande River.
Where to Stay: Most visitors camp outdoors. There are plenty of resorts on and near the park grounds too, for those not wanting the brave the night skies. Book early, because as spring and summer draw near, hotels fill to capacity. AirBnB is another great option, with several homes and apartments in the area listed at between $60 and $400.