48 Hours in Huge Bend Nationwide Park – What to Do and See

February 24, 2022

Welcome to Huge Bend Nationwide Park. An explosion of coloration on the Rio Grande in the midst of nowhere West Texas.

Should you didn’t assume Texas had sweeping mountains, dramatic peaks, and countless mountain views, put together to be wowed. That is the way to greatest spend 48 hours in Huge Bend Nationwide Park, Texas.

Dom Rock

In a park as massive as Huge Bend, masking over 150 miles, if you happen to’ve solely received a few days, you’re going to should make some powerful selections. I really started within the Huge Bend State Park, which is correct subsequent door, with probably the greatest Rio Grande river views you will discover for the sundown.

This space is called huge hill, or if you happen to examine on Google Maps, it’s referred to as Dom Rock, named after a bottle of hidden Dom Perignon from the film Fandango

Remember to get there round 45 minutes earlier than the solar really units, as a result of it goes down these canyon partitions shortly. From right here you’ll be searching on the view straddling Texas and Mexico, partitioned by the meandering river. Entry this one about 12 miles down scenic freeway 170 previous the city of Lajitas. 

Misplaced Mine Path

The following morning for dawn, if you happen to’re up for an early get up, which I extremely suggest, the Misplaced Mine path supplies beautiful views. You solely have to hike in a few mile in on the path to observe because the rising solar paints the rocks crimson after which gold, sweeping out to the valley within the distance. 

It is a pretty simple hike, and it’s greatest to get there early, because the small parking zone fills up shortly.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

The Sotol Vista Overlook

The Ross Maxwell Scenic drive would require turning again in the direction of the park entrance (however not too far) for probably the greatest drives in the entire park. Plus, it ends at one of many park’s most well-known options – the Santa Elena Canyon.

There are many stops all alongside the way in which with facet hikes and overlooks, just like the Sotol Vista pictured above, so give your self loads of time for this one. Non-obligatory facet hikes embody:

  • Decrease Burro Mesa Path – A simple, 30 minute hike with pretty canyon views and possibilities to see spring wildflowers.
  • Chimneys Path – One other brief and flat hike, although if deciding between Decrease Burro and this one, choose the Decrease Burro.
  • Mule Ears Springs Path – Beautiful views of some distinctive rock formations and an excellent spot for evening images.
  • Tuff Canyon Overlook – This fast roadside cease seems to be down right into a white canyon. It’s one other fast, simple hike into the canyon if you happen to’re eager.
  • Dorgan Home Path – Try some outdated buildings and ruins on this roadside pulloff.
  • Santa Elena Canyon Overlook – A fast cease in your manner right down to hike or kayak the Canyon.

Santa Elena Canyon

Most likely essentially the most photographed and well-known function of Huge Bend, the Santa Elena Canyon affords an opportunity to play in, kayak on, hike via, or hike beside the Rio Grande. Benefit from the coolness of the canyon whereas being in two locations directly – break up between Texas and Mexico.

Relying on how excessive the water is, you’ll have to get your ft moist to cross the Rio Grande to be able to entry the path. For that reason, I’d suggest sneakers that do effectively in water. I additionally seen individuals who introduced kayaks to kayak down the river and should admit I used to be jealous.

Nonetheless, the view from alongside the path is beautiful, and if you happen to make it there for dawn, you possibly can catch an ideal glimpse of the rising solar over the river from a pair switchbacks up originally of the path, simply after crossing the river. It’s a brief, simple path with a little bit of elevation loss and acquire that finishes at a pleasant view trying additional into the canyon.

Sundown on the Home windows

The opposite hottest factor to do within the park is catching sundown on the Home windows. It is a customer favourite due to the simple accessibility and the spectacular solar setting proper between this distinctive rock formation. For some additional train, hike a 5 mile path to get nearer to the home windows, or you possibly can take a look at them from the paved, simple loop accessible from the Chisos Basin Customer Heart parking space.

That stated, what you see pictured above is a unique view. I knew that the nearly-full moon can be rising on the opposite facet of the home windows, so I selected to observe the sundown/moonrise from the west round mile marker 2 on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This explicit photograph was taken down a dust street nearer to mile 3, offering extra of a facet profile of 1 facet of the Home windows.

Though I significantly thought of watching the sundown via the Home windows, I additionally needed to see what it might be like watching the solar paint the mountains crimson with that well-timed moon rise. It meant barely much less driving after having fun with the Santa Elena Canyon as effectively!

That is additionally an choice if you wish to watch the dawn via the Home windows.

Grapevine Hills and Balanced Rock

For my second dawn, I made my manner out to the Grapevine Hills and Balanced Rock Path. That is one other simple, comparatively flat path with wonderful views on the finish, notably for the dawn. Although most individuals come right here to see the balanced rock, I used to be extra a fan of the Grapevine Hills view on the high of the path.

to be able to entry this space, you’ll want to show down a dust street nearly adjoining to basin junction. If it has lately rained I might think about this street being impassible. Even with dry circumstances, the start of the street was no downside, however then it began to get a bit of bit washboardy and for my rental automobile, a bit too dangerous for the final half mile. Fortunately there was a pleasant little spot I might simply pull off and park, making it a simple hike in. It added a little bit of time to my hike, however the stroll out on the street again to the automobile was good as effectively!

You’ve received about an hour earlier than the dawn will illuminate the rock formations on this canyon, so that you catch just a few additional Zs than you could possibly if climbing the Misplaced Mine path for dawn, by comparability.

South Rim and Emory Peak

The South Rim view by Davey Nin used beneath Artistic Commons

By far the longest and most difficult suggestion on this listing, the south rim hike supplies the most important reward by way of beautiful views. This hike is about 12 miles round-trip, and also you’ll have the choice so as to add on Emory Peak as effectively. Should you select to do that as a day hike, consider this isn’t applicable for {the summertime}, and also you’ll wish to depart proper at dawn so as to have the ability to full the entire thing, so that you would possibly wish to select this one as an alternative of the Balanced Rock Path if you happen to solely have 48 hours.

I used to be dying to do that hike, and beneath regular circumstances would have, however I had a protracted drive forward of me and simply barely didn’t have sufficient time to do it justice. That stated, if I had been to return, I’d obtain a backcountry permit and switch this into an in a single day hike, as there are just a few established backcountry campsites alongside the rim. One of the best case situation for me can be the chance to observe the sundown, stargaze, and catch the dawn taking a look at this unimaginable view.

Stargazing Ideas

Probably the greatest issues about being in such a distant location is the chance to see the evening sky in her full glory. One of the best time to see the well-known Milky Approach core is from mid-March till mid-October, however anytime all year long is a superb time to have a look at the evening sky.

Though I used to be there throughout a full moon, which presents its personal distinctive images alternatives, moonlight will significantly inhibit your means to see the celebrities, so just be sure you go throughout a brand new moon in case you are going particularly to stargaze. I discover Moon Giant to be very useful for planning functions. Further factors if you happen to go to throughout a brand new moon and a meteor bathe!

Close by – Eat and Lay Your Head

A part of the enjoyable visiting Huge Bend Nationwide Park is hanging out within the cities close by as effectively. They’ve a lot character and persona!

Terlingua is the closest city to the park and your greatest wager for scrumptious eats. The most well-liked native spot for dinner is the Starlight Theater within the Terlingua ghost city. Folks have a tendency to hang around for an hour or so earlier than it opens, ingesting beers from the close by reward store and taking part in music on the wood deck. Put together to attend a bit so as to have the ability to eat right here because it’s standard, however from what I hear it’s price it!

There’s an outdated cemetery close by additionally price trying out for a peek into the city mining historical past.

For breakfast, try La Posada Milagro close by for espresso and breakfast burritos.


Should you’re planning on spending nearly all of your time in huge Bend nationwide Park itself, essentially the most handy choice are campground reservations within the park, though they have a tendency to guide out fairly far upfront throughout the cooler months. There are additionally some choices in Terlingua.

I personally stayed on the Lajitas Golf Resort in Lajitas, which is conveniently situated proper subsequent to Huge Bend State Park. They’ve a number of eating places on web site, together with a golf course, zip lining, and different actions. It is a nice household alternative and an choice for individuals who need extra selection than simply hikes within the park.

If in case you have extra time, one of the best case situation can be to remain inside the park to discover the nationwide park, and on the Latijas Golf Resort to discover the state park.

On Your Approach

Since Huge Bend Nationwide Park is in the midst of nowhere, you’ll have a protracted drive no matter the place you’re coming from. Most individuals fly into El Paso. On the way in which, I extremely suggest stopping in Fort Davis to interrupt up the 5-hour drive.

The Davis Mountains State Park affords beautiful views of the encircling space and is a superb place to catch the sundown. Drive to the tip of the Skyline Drive for one of the best views.

Afterwards, I extremely suggest going to the McDonald Observatory for one in all their star events (calendar here). This provides you a chance to look via their telescopes at stars and constellations. That is one other time when it might be prudent to take the moon phases under consideration, as darkish skies make for a a lot better stargazing.

Whereas in Fort Davis, I stayed on the Stone Village Tourist camp and ate breakfast on the Stone Village Market and cherished the pleasant environment. Should you’re a espresso lover, they promote scrumptious native, free commerce, natural espresso within the store!

Seasonal Concerns

Huge Bend can get sizzling in the summertime, with temperatures often topping 90°F. Summer time can also be the monsoon season, when flash flooding and rain are extra widespread. Within the winter, put together for near freezing temperatures, particularly in a single day.

Round March, you might get fortunate sufficient to see some wildflowers within the park, together with cactus flowers! That stated, understand that that is round spring break, which might be one of the standard occasions to go to. I went in early February and was delighted by how uncrowded it was!

No matter if you go, Huge Bend presents a singular alternative for darkish skies, beautiful hikes, and exquisite solitude.

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*This put up was delivered to you in collaboration with Travel Texas. All ideas on the fantastic thing about Huge Bend are my very own.

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