Texas Tourism] Big Bend National Park 3 Days Self-drive Itinerary, Accommodation, Food Tips General Organization

Big Bend National Park About Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park (Big Bend National ParkThe park is located in southwestern Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border. This national park is characterized by a variety of landscapes, the park has a large river Rio Grande flows through a large area of desert, thus creating oases and canyons, so there are deserts in the park, there are also oases and alpine landscapes. The desert is extremely hot in summer, but in winter the temperature can vary greatly, so the best season to come here is spring and fall. When we came here, it was winter, but the temperature was warm all day long.


There is no other way to get to Big Bend National Park except by car. Because it is a relatively remote national park, there is no airport nearby, so the average traveler has to fly to a nearby city and then drive five or six hours to get there. The nearest big city is El Paso, Texas, which is a 5 hour drive. We traveled fromAustinI drove for seven hours, passing through some smaller towns along the way, but either closer to Austin or the Big Bend National Park, with not much to see in between. The good thing is that although the national park is very big, there are not many people there.

Regardless of what Texas city you're driving from, there aren't a lot of towns to stop at on a seven-hour drive. We drove from Austin and waited in line for half a day.Fredricksburg, also has breaks at Alpine, Marathon and Fort Stockton.


The Big Bend Park can be roughly divided into three sections: East, Central, and West:

  • EasternCovering Rio Grande Village and Bouqillas Canyon, the main attraction area follows the Rio Grande River through Hot Springs, Rio Grande Village and ends at Boquilla Canyon Trail, a one hour drive through hot springs, river and canyon from Panthor The main scenic area follows the Rio Grande River through Hot Springs, Rio Grande Village and ends at the Boquilla Canyon Trail, a one hour drive from Panthor's Junction through hot springs, rivers and canyons.
  • central sectionThe Chisos mountain area is an area where it takes less than 20 minutes to climb from Panther Junction, the eastern border of the park. This is the starting point of the most popular hiking trails in the park, and the view is alpine.
  • western partThen there's the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, a 30-mile scenic road that passes through a vast expanse of Chihuahuan Desert landscape, passing through the Castolon Historic District and all the way to Santa Elena Canyon.

The journey to Big Bend National Park is long, and most tourists arrange a three-day or more itinerary in the park, so it's a good idea to divide the three parts of the trip into three days. You can decide which part of the park you want to visit first according to your accommodation and the route you want to take, because you have to drive to the end of the park and back again, so no matter which part of the park you want to visit first, it will be more or less the same. We entered the park on the first day and stayed outside the park, so here is the general route:

  • Day 1. Chiso's Basin areaThe trail is a good way to get to the top of the mountain and climb the Window trail and the Lost mine trail.
  • Day 2. Ross Maxwell Scenic DriveI basically stopped at every point, originally I only planned to finish the Dorgan-Sublett Trail, Santa Elena Canyon Trail, but later I had time to walk the Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff, and left at 5:00pm to go to Terlingua for dinner.
  • Day 3: Take the eastern road.Hot Springs and Rio Grande VillageI then drove north to get ready to leave, and before I did, I stopped by the only Fossil Discovery Exhibit north of Panther Junction.

This itinerary assumes that the drive to the national park is not counted, and if you include the time spent driving from Austin, you will need two more days. If you really only have three days of vacation time is very limited, the park can also be shortened to a day trip, skipping the eastern part of the park, the central part of the park only take the shortest window trail, and then spend most of the time in the western part of the park on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

Important Landmarks and Top Attractions

Panther Junction Visitor Center

You will pass by this visitor center from time to time in the park, and you will definitely pass by it when you go to Chiso's Basin and Rio Grande Village, so there are a lot of people passing by every time. Outside of the Visitor Center, there is an interesting trail that introduces various cacti and other plants in the desert, so you can learn more about them, after all, you see them all the time when you drive or climb mountains.

Fossil discovery exhibit

Located in the north of Panther Junction, on highway 385, in fact, it is also part of the park, but it is farther away from other attractions. The fossils of dinosaurs are displayed here. In fact, the park is located in a place that used to be under the sea in ancient times, but the terrain has changed a lot since then, and archaeologists have found a lot of fossils of dinosaurs from the ancient American continent in this area.

The hill behind the display area is a nice spot to watch the sunset.

Window View

The highlight of Chiso's Basin is Window View, which refers to the junction of the two mountains and is called the Window's End.Window TrailWindow View is very recommended. However, Window View is very beautiful from afar. If you don't have time or can't walk too far, you can take the Window view trail next to the Window trail to the observation deck, which is only 0.3 mile.

Lost Mine Trail

Lost Mine TrailIt is a 4.8 miles round trip hiking route, which takes about three hours. It's a really beautiful trail, with spectacular high desert scenery.

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena CanyonIt is the end point of Maxwell Scenic Drive, all the way on Maxwell Scenic Drive about after Sotol Vista you can see Santa Elena Canyon standing on the U.S.-Mexico border, with Mexico on the left and Texas on the right, it is a spectacular natural border.

Hot Springs Canyon Trail

The Hot Springs Canyon Trail entrance is right next to Daniel's Ranch, and this is one of the trails that I think is a must-climb. This trail gives you a great view of the Rio Grande River in less than a mile, and we had a hard time climbing the cliffs and finally saw the big bend near the Rio Grande Overlook, which we had been admiring for a long time, but never knew exactly where it was.

For a more detailed description of the attractions, please refer to the Area Tips:

Neighboring Accommodations

If you want to save time on transportation, it's best to stay in the park, but it's not easy to get accommodations inside the park. The towns around Big Bend National Park where you can stay are a bit far away, and there aren't many hotels. The closest town is Terlingua, which has a similar view to the park road.BadlandsThe park is located in a very convenient location, and you can drive into the park in less than an hour, so it's the best place to stay outside of the park. If you can't book a place to stay in Terlingua, a better choice would be to stay in Alpine or near Marathon, which are also more convenient, but it takes about an hour or so to drive into the park from these two places. We stayed at a hotel in Alpine for the first and second nights of these three days, and we stayed in the vicinity of Terlingua for two of the three days and two nights at the beginning of the trip.

How much does it cost to stay in Terlingua?

Terlingua Old Town

Terlingua Old Town is one of our favorite places to stop for dinner these days. Terlingua itself is very interesting, it used to be a mining town, founded in 1903 by a Chicago tycoon, The Chisos Mining Company, which dug mercury mines in the area, and from the early 1900s to around 1930, it attracted a lot of people, especially cheap Mexican laborers due to its geographic location. The company went bankrupt in 1942, and Terlingua dispersed, becoming a virtual ghost town. There are still a few people living in the neighborhood, but much of it is a monument like many of the buildings in Big Bend National Park.

Accommodation Tips: The Summit at Big Bend

This time, because we wanted to stay closer to Terlingua, we ended up booking a place called The Summit at Big Bend in Glamping, west of Terlingua, which is kind of a remote location, and you have to drive a long unpaved road to get in, but the overall environment is not bad, and it's worth the price of admission to see the sunrise in the morning and the stars at night. The sunrise in the morning and the stars at night are worth the price of admission.

The tent is equipped with air conditioner, sofa, refrigerator, water faucet, and the outside toilet is very clean and comfortable.

Neighborhood Food Record


Starlight Theater

  • Recommendation Index: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Price: $$

Starlight Theater in Terlingua is the hottest restaurant in Terlingua. During dinner time, there are live music performances and the atmosphere is so hot that it usually takes more than an hour to queue up, but during the waiting time, you can order a drink in the bar first, so we ordered a cocktail and sat down outside to wait. The food was not amazing but not bad, the best dish we ordered was the Texas Antelope Burger.

Taqueria El Milagro

  • Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Price: $

A Tex-Mex restaurant in the old town, the menu is all Mexican and the waiters seem to be quite casual. We love the tacos here. The price of the tacos is calculated by the number of tacos, and you can choose the flavors you want, so we ordered every kind of tacos, and there are also cactus flavored tacos. We ordered only 10 tacos for two people, they are not too big, so it's not a problem to eat 10 tacos for one person. I also ordered Horchata as a drink, and it was the best drink I've had in the past few days.

La Posada Milagro

  • Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Price: $$

There are a few places open in the morning where you can buy breakfast, and the store itself is also a small hotel, right in the middle of the ruins area, with a special appearance. Sitting here and eating a Burrito and drinking a cup of coffee gives you the feeling that you are going to go digging for minerals later on. Tex-Mex and American brunch are also available, and all food can be customized, but the line can be long.



  • Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Price: $$

This restaurant is in the Alpine, and you can make reservations. It's one of the few Tex-Mex restaurants in the National Park that feels more upscale than the others. All the food was delicious, and the Tenderloin Tamales was more filling than I expected, so I accidentally ordered too much, and took half of it away for two days.

Guzzi Up

  • Recommendation Index: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Price: $

I usually don't come here for pizza if I don't have a choice, but this time I came here because it was a holiday and a lot of restaurants were closed. This restaurant sells Craft beer, which is one of the specialties, although we didn't come here for the alcohol, we ordered it randomly and found that we liked the beer, and the taste of the pizza itself is also very good. In addition, this restaurant is very professional. On that day, they were short of manpower, so the food was slow, and then they started to apologize to new customers, saying that they could not guarantee the quality of the food, so they would not accept any more customers.

Further reading

For more Texas travel food seeHere.!

Thank you for visiting our website.

All the content on this site is original and shared with the purpose of providing valuable information. We sustain the operation of this site through a small amount of advertising and sponsored links. If you click on links to third-party merchants on our site and make purchases, we may receive a portion of the sales as a commission. If you click on links to third-party merchants on our site and make purchases, we may receive a portion of the sales as a commission.

Find more posts on a map Here.

My recommended resources for hotel bookings.

My recommended resources for activity bookings.
Buy me a coffee and support my contents!

If you are interested in quoting this article or using any part of its content and images on your website or publication, please contact us via email to request permission.