Big Bend is located in Southwest Texas, bordering Mexico along the Rio Grande. This makes it an excellent location for river trips, bird watching, and panoramic views. If you make it out here, I suggest staying for a few days. There is a lot to see and nothing close by, so go prepared. It is a desert so make sure you bring plenty of water. I suggest one gallon per person, per day. Deserts can get very cold at night, even on days where it reaches in the high 80s (°C) it can still drop below freezing at night and continue to be cold into the early morning. As for gas, there is a conveniently located filing station in the center of the park, reachable within 60miles of almost any point. If you get terrible milage or your meter is unreliable, maybe bring some extra just in case. The main goal is to not get stuck, towing fees start around $1,000. Go here because it is amazing, but please go prepared!
I stayed at both the Rio Grande Village and the Chisos Basin campgrounds. Rio Grande is located on the east side of the park and has a small store and showers. Chisos Basin is at the center of the park, there is a small store, restaurant and the Chisos Basin Lodge. Tent sites at both cost $14 per night.
If you cannot find camping in the park, I recommend the Stilwell Campsite 5 miles from the Persimmon Gap entrance. They have bathrooms with showers and a small store. Tent sites were $10 per night, per person .
Hikes I Hiked
Boquillas Canyon Trail - 1.4 miles This trail begins with a slight climb from the parking lot, that leads to a great view of the Rio Grande before descending to the river bank. Once you make your way down it is an easy flat walk along the river to the entrance of the the Boquillas Canyon. Along this part you will find makeshift souvigner stands with handmade goods for sale. (Technically purchasing anything from these sites is illegal and items can be confiscated by boarder security.) On my hike there was also a man standing in the shade singing and taking requests, I enjoyed his tunes but did not offer up any suggestions or money. The trail ends abruptly and you simply turn around and make your way back. If you're adventurous you can continue on a little bit into the canyon until there are no more places to step and the walls take over. The canyon gets it names from the small holes scattered along the walls, boquillas is Spanish for little mouths.
Santa Elena Canyon Trail - 1.7 miles If you like Lord of the Rings you have got to go see this canyon. It is a fairly easy hike but note the best view is just as you crossover the boardwalk rom the parking lot. The hike stats with a series of switch backs ascending up and into the canyon walls. Then it's flat for a while until it drops off onto a tiny river bank/beach. Along the way you'll get a view of some amazing canyon walls and giant rocks. On the way beside to checkout the views as you can see much of the Chisos Mountains and Burro Mesa.
Upper Burro Messa Pour Off - 3.8 miles To be honest I'm not sure I even finished this trail. I got tired of hiking though sand and turned back after seeing a cool window. This trail starts descending so remember you have to climb your way back up. The first and third parts of the hike has little shade so maybe don't go in the middle of the day. I do love the middle portion of this hike as is requires some rock clambering (I don't qualify it as scrambling unless there is step terrain and high risk level) this is low risk and skilled hikers/climbers may not even have to use their hands. This hike offers a great variety of views starting with dessert vegetation and ending with a dessert wash, high walls and sand.
Lost Mine Trail - 4.6 mile On this trail you will gain over 1,000 feet in elevation and as you hike the wind gusts will get stronger. Going later in the day will help with wind but the trail will be much busier as it is very popular and shaded. There are lots of switchbacks, counting them only makes it worse. About a mile up there is a nice view and some benches if you need to rest. At the top there is an even better view. A the peak the winds are constant and the gusts are powerful so make sure everything is secured to your pack. The terrain is mostly flat, and while there are steep drop offs I would not qualify the trail a narrow so the risk is low. There are great views of vegetation on the way up and the 60 view of the Chisos Basin and Mountains is well worth the climb.
Balanced Rock - 2.2 miles Accessible off an unpaired primitive road this hike is not accessible to everyone so it's a nice quite hike. It starts flat and sandy and ends with a quarter mile rock clamber to a great view of a balanced rock. There are a few other balanced rock formations along the way as long as some cool shared boulders. This is no shade on this trail and no bathrooms or water at the trail head. If you have the vehicle to make it down the 8 mile rough terrain do this hike as I'm fairly certain it's the only way to see this balanced rock, and the hike is easy.
Rio Grande Village Nature Trail - 0.75 miles Hike this trail at sunrise or sunset for full effect. There is incredible wildlife to be seen and at the peak panoramic views of the Rio Grande, the Chisos Mountains, and Del Carmen Mountains. It is a quick and easy hike, bring a blanket and sit at the top for a while.
Sites I Saw
Hot Springs - There is just one hot spring. Yes you can relax in it. I did not as there are warnings against letting the water get near you face... At this trailhead there is also a nice shaded picnic area and some historic buildings so even if you're not looking to get in the water it's a worthy stop.
Dugout Wells - This a nice little picnic spot with and easy 0.5 miles trail loop. It is the site of an old settlement where they had to dug up water and hence lead to a patch of diverse vegetation including cotton wood trees.
Santa Elena Canyon - There is a great view point as well as the hike. However I would suggest going to the Santa Elena Trailhead even if you do not want to hike. There you can get some water time and see the Rio Grande up close.
Castolon - Visitor center, store and old buildings. A good place to stop and have lunch if you're doing a scenic drive or between hikes.
Mule Ears - I saw the ear shaped mountains from the view point, there is a trail to Mule Ears Spring where you can get a closer look, but no maintained trails to the ears.
The Window - I didn't hike the trail as the view point was enough. Come here for sunsets and you will not be disappointed.