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Big Bend National Park

Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River- A 191.2-mile strip on the American shore of the Rio Grande in the Chihuahuan Desert protects the river. It begins in Big Bend National Park and continues downstream to the Terrell-Val Verde county line. NO FEDERAL FACILITIES outside Big Bend National Park.

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General Information

Big Bend National Park
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Big Bend National Park
Description - Big Bend National Park encompasses more than 800,000 acres in southwest Texas. The Park contains 118 miles of the Rio Grande, international boundary between Mexico and the United States. Within the 118 twisting miles that also define the parks southern boundary, the rivers southeasterly flow changes abruptly to the northeast and forms the "big bend" of the Rio Grande.

Big Bend National Park has national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. Few areas exceed the parks value for the protection and study of geologic and paleontologic resources. Cretaceous and Tertiary fossil organisms exist in variety and abundance. Archeologists have discovered artifacts estimated to be 9,000 years old and historic buildings and landscapes offer graphic illustration of life along the international border at the turn of the century.

The 118 river miles that form the southern park boundary include the spectacular canyons of Santa Elena, Mariscal and Boquillas. The Rio Grande, meandering through this portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, has cut deep canyons with nearly vertical walls through three uplifts, comprised primarily of limestone. Cultural resources in the park range from the Paleo-Indian period 10,500 years ago through the historic period represented by Native American groups, such as the Chisos, Mescalero Apache and Comanche. More recently, Spanish, Mexican and American settlers farmed, ranched and mined in the area.

Attractions - The biggest attractions of this National Park are the open spaces and few visitors. This is one of the largest national properties, outside of Alaska, and one of the least visited. Developed areas inside the Park include Rio Grande Village, Castolon and Chisos Mountains. In each of these areas visitors will find campgrounds, a visitor center and/or ranger station and trailheads. Also within the park is the historic La Harmonia Company Store, Daniel's Ranch Picnic Area, backcountry campsites and several unimproved roads.

Recreation - Recreation opportunities abound in this large preserve. Visitors can enjoy camping, picnicking, viewing exhibits, viewing scenery, scenic driving and hiking nature trails in the developed areas of the Park. The backcountry is open for backpacking, rafting, kayaking, four-wheel driving, hiking and horseback riding.

Climate - Annual precipitation is just under ten inches in most of the park, but in wet years may exceed 30 inches in the mountains. Typically, winter and spring are dry seasons; the rains usually begin in June and last into the fall. Summer brings hot days and warm nights. Dramatic afternoon lightning storms with high winds are common and come on quickly. Heavy downpours may result in flash floods. Winter days may be sunny and warm, but the nights tend to be cold. Winter storms can blow in suddenly with plummeting temperatures and rain or snow. The weather in Big Bend, hot or cold, injures and kills more hikers than any other factor. Come well prepared because weather changes can be dramatic and unexpected.

Location - This large national preserve extends northward from the Rio Grande in southwestern Texas. It is accessible from U.S. Highway 385 and Texas State Highway 118.

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Report: The best time to visit Big Bend is in the winter after the crowds and temperatures have abated. Hikes to the South Rim are a must and make a great overnight trip. After trying the National Park, take a look at Big Bend State Park, just to the west. Longer hikes are possible because there is water available in the State Park springs, unlike the Nat. Park.

More Information

Contact Information:
Big Bend National Park, P.O. Box 129 , Big Bend National Park, TX, 79834, Phone: 915-477-2251

Additional Information:
Big Bend Country - Big Bend Country covers most of western Texas. The biggest attraction in the region is Big Bend National Park but this geologically diverse region offers numerous other outdoor recreation attractions.
Texas National Forests and Parks - The sites listed here include four National Forests, two National Parks, numerous National Historic Sites, National Monuments and National Recreation Areas, a National Grassland and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.

Big Bend National Park - Official agency website


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