Exploring Big Bend National Park – Texas

Hikes, hot springs, views and so much more.

March 4, 2017

Since our travels brought us to west Texas and a hike in Guadalupe National Park, we knew that we needed to make the effort to getting to Big Bend National Park. Big Bend always just seemed so far away! So after our detour, multiple fellow nomads making the trek and showing some beautiful pictures we figured out a way there. We only had one day to enjoy this national park and so we did a lot of research. A hike was our priority. The great thing about this national park is that you can easily make it from one end to the other. While it is a large park, the roads are well maintained and the scenery is beautiful. We ended up deciding to hike Grapevine Hills Trail and then drive to the Boquillas Hot Springs!

Getting to Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is in the southwest of Texas. Reachable by two main roads, 118 from the west side and 385 from the east. There are 5 visitor centers but only two are open year around: Panther Junction Visitor Center and Chisos Basin Visitor Center. Don’t forget your America the Beautiful Pass, otherwise it is $30 to enter the park.

Hiking Grapevine Hills Trail

We were avid hikers in California and now that we are in amazing places throughout the US we feel like it has put our hiking on a whole new level. Hiking isn’t always about the challenge or the destination. We love being outdoors. Visiting our national parks is amazing also, but being able to explore and hike deeper than the roads will take you is exciting for us. It makes you feel so much smaller in this world and appreciate the disconnect it can provide. Even though this wasn’t a long hike or challenging it was like none other we had done. So, another hike checked off in our 52 hike challenge!

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We were not able to do any strenuous hikes and didn’t feel like we had time either. Big Bend has so much to offer other than hikes, we wanted to make time for multiple experiences. When we read reviews the enthusiasm people had for this trail really drew us to it. It was something a little different and adults were saying you would feel like a giddy kid if you love boulders and climbing.

Total miles: 2.2 ♦ Trail: easy to moderate ♦ Elevation: 285′ ♦ Trail Type: Out and Back ♦ Fact: Big Bend National Park was established on June 12, 1944

The only difficult thing about this is getting to the trail. It’s a 7 mile drive off the main road to the trail head and it is not flat or paved. It will be worth it though! There is a small parking lot right at the trail head. It’s an easy hike through a washed out area and then a short climb to Balancing Rock.

You can’t miss it!

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The views on both sides are beautiful.

When you get up close to balancing rock you kind of wonder how it sits there. We did give it a little push just to double check!

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On our way back we saw some Javelinas!

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Experiencing Boquillas Hot Springs

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After a hike, long or short, Boquillas Hot Springs is a must to experience. There are two ways to reach the springs. You can take Hot Springs Canyon Trail (5.8 miles) near the Rio Grande Village Visitor Center or take Hot Springs Rd to Hot Springs Historic Trail (.25 miles). We chose the shorter hike and closer parking. There is a point on this road that they say to not take any dually’s, or large vehicles. We have a Chevy Silverado 1500 and we squeezed through the roads. They do provide a parking lot so you can stop and walk.

The main parking lot has restrooms and you start to see the remains of J. O. Langford’s bath house community. He claimed this land under the Homestead Act in the early 1900s. The original cost to his bath house was ten cents per day and $2 for his 21 day treatment, which he claims cured his ailments.

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It was an easy .25 mile walk past the old buildings and through some tall reeds.

We were expecting it to be packed since it was a Saturday but when we got there, there was maybe 7 people there. It really is the remains of this bath house and the 105 degree water running through. You can relax in the sections that were made for people to soak,  while you enjoy the views of Mexico and sounds of the Rio Grande. It was absolutely amazing!

The bottom is muddy and the remains of the building are covered in moss, but you somehow look past and experience what the waters can do for you. Jump into the Rio Grande, there is a deep enough spot right there and spots to step back up.


Hikes in Big Bend National Park

Hikes in Big Bend are split into three categories: Desert, Mountain and River.

Here are your options: Big Bend Hikes

Know Before You Go To Big Bend National Park

Visitor Centers – Again, there are 5 but only 2 are open year round to assist. Check the website ahead of time if you are wanting to stop in.

Food – Bring your own food or stop in Terlingua coming from the west.

Park Rangers – They are out and monitoring everything. Even in the off season we saw them on the back roads, main roads, visitor center. We saw a couple kids pulled over, so watch your speed.

Camping – There are multiple parks in the surrounding area. Terlingua is the most popular place and the closest town. There is boondocking/primitive camping within the park but there are special rules you need to abide by. Read Campendium’s write up about it here: What You Need To Know About Backcountry Camping in Big Bend National Park

What was your favorite thing about Big Bend National Park?

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BackpackingTips for (5)

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6 thoughts on “Exploring Big Bend National Park – Texas

  1. Impressed. I am fond of hiking and adventure journeys. We get excitement and self confidence from those activities. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It was an excellent reading.

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  2. Where I come from in the South West of Western Australia, the national parks are green and saturated with tall trees. This Texas park looks unique and stunning all in one. Would love to get there have a good hike in the Texas heat. great post and pics.

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  3. Great post and beautiful photos Kym. It made me want to go back. Of about 5-6 hikes we did in Big Bend, Santa Elena Canyon and Lost Mine Trail probably offered the most reward for the effort. I also enjoyed Window Trail, South Rim Trail, and, of course, Grapevine Hills Trail to the Balanced Rock.

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  4. Big bend national Park is a really beautiful place which has many unique things in it…The method mentioned to reach the big bend is quite easy I think!! Hiking is one thing even I would love to do!! The hot springs will be amazing to experience!! The tips mentioned in the end will be quite helpful!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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