After Hours Arrival
Is it possible to enter the park after entrance stations close?
If you arrive after hours and entrance stations or visitor centers are closed, you may proceed into the park. Please pay your entry fee at a convenient time at an entrance station. If you have a camping reservation, proceed directly to your campsite. A reservation/permit is required for camping.
If you arrive in Big Bend without camping/lodging reservations, it is best to come prepared with alternative plans for lodging or camping outside of the park. If you camp in parking lots or along park roadsides you will be cited.There are NO overflow campsites in Big Bend National Park, and no nearby public lands outside the park.
Are ATMs available in the park?
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located at the Chisos Basin Lodge, Rio Grande Village Store, and at the Panther Junction service stations during operating hours. An ATM is also located outside the park in Study Butte.
Is it possible to cross into Mexico from the park?
Yes, visitors can legally cross into Mexico through the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry. This Class B port of entry (pedestrian only) is open from 9:00 am-4:00 pm, Friday to Monday during summer months, and 9:00 am-4:00 pm, Wednesday to Sunday during the winter. A valid passport is required for everyone to cross.
What camping options are available in the park?
There are three NPS developed campgrounds in the park: Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood campgrounds. Reservations are required.
Rio Grande Village and Basin campgrounds have dump stations and water. Camping is not allowed in parking lots or along roadways.
The concession operates the Rio Grande Village RV Campground, the only location with full hook-ups.
Backcountry campsites, and backpacking require a backcountry permit that must be obtained in person from a visitor center or online via www.recreation.gov. Without the proper permit, backcountry camping is prohibited.
Is it possible to reserve a campsite in the park?
Reservations are REQUIRED for Big Bend Camping.
Please visit recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.
How Long Can I Stay in Big Bend National Park?
- Visitors are welcome to stay in the park up to 14 consecutive nights in either a front or backcountry site, with a limit of 28 total nights in the park in a calendar year.
- Campers can occupy a specific site up to 14 total nights in a year.
- EXCEPTION: During the busiest period of the year, January 1–April 15, visitors are limited to a total of 14 nights in the park.
Is cell phone coverage available in the park?
Cell service is very spotty throughout the entire Big Bend area. Areas with fairly reliable service include the Chisos Basin area, and near Panther Junction.
What is the cost of the entrance fee?
A $30 per vehicle entrance fee is required, or a $15 individual fee, (both good for seven days) unless you have a park pass. Fees and passes can be purchased at entrance stations. Commercial permits are required for businesses. and a special use permit may be required for some activities.
Are campfires allowed?
NO. Ground fires and wood fires are prohibited throughout Big Bend National Park. Charcoal is allowed in provided grills in campgrounds. You may have a fire in a fire pan while on a river trip, or use a containerized fuel stove for backpacking.
Is fishing allowed in the park?
Fishing is allowed in the Rio Grande with a free permit issued from a visitor center.
Are there filling stations in the park?
Gasoline is available at Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village, and outside the park in Study Butte and Stillwell's Ranch. Diesel is available at Panther Junction and outside the park in Study Butte.
Are there convenience stores in the park?
Small camp stores are available and open year-round at Rio Grande Village, the Chisos Basin, and at Castolon. Basic camping supplies, groceries, and souvenir items are available at all three locations. The Panther Junction Gas Station also has limited groceries.
Are there options for horseback riding in the park?
Horseback riding is permitted in the park if you bring your own stock. Please obtain a backcountry permit. Stables in Study Butte and Lajitas offer guided horse trips outside the park.
Are the hot springs open for soaking?
The hot springs (105°F), located near Rio Grande Village, are available for soaking. The hot springs area is designated day-use only; overnight camping, alcoholic beverages, and pets are prohibited. The hot springs is subject to flooding.
Is there lodging in the park?
The Chisos Mountains Lodge, operated by Aramark, Inc., offers a variety of rooms and cottages, plus a gift shop and dining room. The lodge is open year-round. Call 432-477-2291 for information.
Peak Visitation Periods
When is the park the busiest?
Peak visitation occurs between November and April. Spring break and holiday seasons are especially busy. Plan ahead by making reservations and insure an enjoyable time by having a flexible itinerary during periods of peak visitation.
How large is Big Bend National Park?
At 801,163 acres, Big Bend is the 8th largest national park in the lower 48 states, and the 15th largest in the U.S. Check out all the stats here.
Are pets allowed in the park or on trails?
Think carefully before bringing a pet to Big Bend. Pets will limit your experience in Big Bend to a certain degree. Pets are NOT allowed on trails or in the backcountry for the protection of the park, wildlife, hikers, and your pet. Pets are allowed anywhere vehicles can go, such as roads and primitive campsites, but pets must be on a leash and may not be left unattended.
Where is propane available in the park?
Liquid propane is available at the Rio Grande Village Store, and outside the park in Study Butte. Both locations recommend you check ahead of time to see if an employee licensed to dispense propane is available.
Is it possible to canoe or kayak the Rio Grande?
Yes! Gear rental and guided trips are available from local outfitters. You may also bring you own equipment; a backcountry permit is required for any river trip. The Rio Grande is subject to varying water levels. Always check current conditions to determine if there is enough water to float, or if the river is too high to safely navigate.
Are RV hook-ups available in the park?
Full RV hook-ups are only available at the Rio Grande Village RV Campground, operated by the park's concession.
Are showers available in park campgrounds?
The only available showers are located at the Rio Grande Village Store. They are coin operated. Showers are available 24/7.
Are there available water sources in the backcountry?
Desert water is precious, ephemeral, and unpredictable - never stake your life on a water source that might not be present. If you find water in the desert, filter only what you need; please, be careful not to contaminate water sources with soaps, oils, skin lotions, and food residues.
Is swimming allowed in the river?
It is fun to put your toes into the muddy Rio, but actual swimming in the Rio Grande is NOT recommended, as undercurrents, deep holes, sharp objects, micro-organisms, and other hazards exist. Three hours north of the park is Balmorhea State Park, which offers excellent swimming opportunities in the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool!
What is the park's annual visitation?
Annual visitation is approximately 550,000 visitors per year...and climbing.
What general weather conditions can be expected?
Big Bend has a temperate climate, with abundant sunshine. Summers are hot, especially in the lower desert elevations and along the river. Infrequent and brief periods of cloudy weather may occur during the winter months. While snow is rare and generally light, occasional cold fronts can bring temperatures well below freezing. Yearly rainfall averages around 5-10 inches in the desert and 15-20 inches in the mountains.
When do the wildflowers bloom?
Many desert plants bloom between late February and late April, while others bloom in response to summer rains of July and August. Occasionally, there is also a fall bloom if the right conditions are present through the year.
When are the best times to see wildlife?
Much of the wildlife in the park is active at night; dusk and dawn are great times for wildlife viewing. Water sources make Daniels' Ranch, Dugout Wells, Window Trail, Sam Nail Ranch, and the beaver pond on the Rio Grande Nature Trail excellent places to look for animals and watch for birds. Remember, feeding wildlife is prohibited.