Big Bend National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Texas. The park covers an area of 1,252 square miles. The park was named after the area where it can be fond, which is bounded by a large bend in the Texas-Mexico border. Big Bend National Park is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. Is home for more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. Archaeologists have discovered here artifacts estimated to be 9,000 years old.
For more than 1,000 miles, the Rio Grande forms the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. Big Bend National Park administers approximately 244 miles of this area along that boundary. This river literally cuts through the mountains and is the greenest part of Big Bend. On the river if you have a permit you can practice rafting and canoeing.
Swimming is not banned on the river but go for a swim only if you’re a professional swimmer because Rio Grande has some fast moving currents, steep drop-offs and is subject to dangerous flash flooding. You can also fish on this river. Hikers can choose to follow the river trails through Santa Elena, The Mariscal, the Hot Spring and Boquillas canyons and get a close up view of the hundreds of birds and animals that come to drink in the river. If you want transportation but prefer to stay off the river, then the river road called El Camino Del Rio is an excellent alternative. It is a paved route that follows the Grand River through the mountains and canyons.
Here the climate may be characterized as one of extremes. During spring and summer temperatures often exceed 100 °F in the lower elevations. Mostly the winters are normally mild throughout the park, but sub-freezing temperatures occasionally occur. Because of the range in altitude from approximately 1,800 feet along the river to Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains at 7,832 feet a wide variation in available moisture and in temperature exists throughout the park. Thanks to these variations of temperatures here you will be able to admire exceptional species of plant and animal habitats. For example this is the only place in U.S where you can see the Chisos Oak.
Before 1535 several Indian groups were recorded as inhabiting the Big Bend. The Chisos Indians were a loosely organized group of nomadic hunters and gatherers who probably practiced limited agriculture on a seasonal basis. Big Bend National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States. In recent years only 300,000-350,000 visitors have entered the park annually. The main attractions here is are hiking and backpacking trails. Other destinations to visit here include Santa Elena Canyon, Grapevine Hills, and the Mule Ears which are two imposing rock towers in the middle of the desert. Here you can benefit for the services of professional backpacking guide that provide trips in the park.
There are five paved roads in Big Bend. Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction is a 28-mile road from the north entrance of the park to park headquarters at Panther Junction.
Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village is a 21-mile road that descends 2,000 feet from the park headquarters at Panther Junction to the Rio Grande River.
Maverick Entrance Station to Panther Junction is a 23-mile route from the western entrance of the park to the park headquarters.
Chisos Basin Road is 6 miles long that climbs to 5,679 feet above sea level at Panther Pass before descending into the Chisos Basin.
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is a 30 miles road that leads to the Castolon Historic District and Santa Elena Canyon.
The Chisos Mountains from the middle of the Rio Grande River were formed by volcanic movement during the Great Ice Age. This land had become an island of fertile soil surrounded by the arid lowlands. The Chisos Mountains are the center of the recreational activity of the park. Here, you can do rock climbing up the volcanic peaks, hike and also you can ride horseback or just take one of the five paved roads.
I could say that the best time to visit the Big Bend National Park is in winter, when the rest of the country is locked in snow; here the desert has a comfortable temperature of 27 ºC. Hikers and mountain bikers are always warned to take more water than what they think they need because of the dry climate that makes dehydration the most serious danger here especially during summer when temperature can exceed 100ºF.
Big Bend National Park has five visitor’s center that are sprinkled throughout the park with restroom facilities, maps, water and phones. At the Basin, Castolon, Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village areas you can find small grocery store and gas stations where you can enjoy cold drink and some camping supplies.