Backcountry Use Permits

bear country sign

NPS Photo/Cookie Ballou

 
A backcountry permit is required for all backcountry camping. This includes backpacking and primitive roadside campsites. Backcountry permits are also required for river trips and stock use.
 

Things to know about Big Bend backcountry permits:

How to get a Backcountry Permit

  • Backcountry Permits are issued in person during normal visitor center hours, and may be obtained up to 24 hours in advance of the trip at Panther Junction and Chisos Basin Visitor Centers.
  • As of February 20, a selection of the most popular backcountry campsites (both Chisos Mountains Backpacking and Primitive Roadside Campsites) are available for online permitting up to 180 days in advance through www.recreation.gov or through the recreation.gov call center at 1-877-444-6777.
  • Permit cost is $10 per night for overnight use ($5 with a Senior or Access pass). There is no charge for day-use river or stock permits.
  • During peak visitation periods permits are in high demand, so plan alternate itineraries.
  • A backcountry permit authorizes camping at designated backpacking sites in the Chisos Mountains or at designated backcountry roadside campsites along the rugged backcountry dirt roads. You must choose your campsite(s) at the time the permit is issued. Wilderness camping requires specifying a detailed itinerary for each night of your trip.

Camping Limits

  • Permits may be written for up to 14 consecutive nights.
  • Visitors can 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.
    • During the busy season of January 1–April 15, visitors are limited to a total of 14 nights in the park.
  • Permit changes (changing a campsite) may be made in person without an additional fee, provided no new days are added. Permit changes must be made in person. Refunds will not be provided for un-used nights.
    • Important: Backcountry Permits issued in advance through www.recreation.gov are managed as a separate system. Big Bend National Park staff cannot make changes to those pre-arranged permits when you arrive in the park. This must be arranged through Recreation.gov.
 

Open Desert Backpacking

Some of the desert areas of Big Bend National Park are open to wilderness backpacking. A backcountry permit is required. Prospective desert backpackers will need to have all the gear necessary for a safe trip, and be prepared to describe a detailed itinerary to a park ranger. There are limits to the number of backpackers allowed in each area, and a variety of backcountry regulations that must be followed.
 

Last updated: May 20, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129

Phone:

432-477-2251

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