Permits & Reservations

Panther Junction Visitor Center
Panther Junction Visitor Center

NPS Photo/Cookie Ballou


Backcountry Use Permits—River Use

A Backcountry Use Permit is required for day-use and overnight use on all sections of the Rio Grande administered by the National Park Service. Day-use river permits are free, while overnight or multi-day river trips have a permit fee of $12.

  • Backcountry use permits must be acquired in person at Panther Junction or Chisos Basin visitor centers during normal business hours and may be obtained up to 24 hours in advance of the trip.
  • Backcountry use permits for Santa Elena Canyon (only) may also be obtained at the Barton Warnock Environmental Center.
  • Self-permitting (for Lower Canyons only) may be done at the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center located at the northern end of Big Bend National Park.
  • Backcountry use permit cost is $10/night for overnight use ($5 with an applicable pass). There is no charge for a day-use river permit.
  • Backcountry use permits are issued on a first come, first-served basis.
  • A backcountry use permit authorizes camping in specific river camping zones; zones must be specified when the permit is issued.
  • Permits may be written for up to 14 consecutive nights.
  • Permit changes may be made without an additional fee provided no new days are added. Permit changes must be made in person.

Fishing Permits

A State fishing license is not required in Big Bend National Park, but a free NPS fishing permit (obtained from a visitor center) is required. A state license is required on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River outside the Park.

Last updated: February 14, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
c/o Big Bend National Park
PO Box 129

Big Bend National Park, TX 79834


(432) 477-2251

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