Big Bend National Park

 

I didn’t know Texas had anything like that!” -too many people

 

The park that changes every mile

Where beauty and intrigue merge

And the hikes have amazing pay-offs

A Beginner's Itinerary Guide

To discovering this Texas hiking paradise

Day 1


Lost Mine Trail

Nature’s beauty the entire trail. Go all the way to the end, it is stunningly beautiful with fantastic vista’s throughout the trail. Get there early, parking fills up fast. Also, by getting their early and finishing the hike earlier, it leaves more time later in the day to explore more of the park.

Beautiful Lost Mine Trail Vista in Big Bend National Park
Rusted old car in from of Mariscal Mine in Big Bend National Park

Mariscal Mine

You already did a big hike for the day, this destination has a little bit of walking and lots of exploring. If you are already spent from the Lost Mine, maybe skip to Hot Springs.

You have to travel a while down a long dirt road but this destination is worth it and most cars shouldn’t have a problem. It’s also not frequented as much as the other areas of the park, so most folks miss it all together. And that’s a darn shame, this is one of my favorite spots in the park. There is also a trail to the top of a hill behind the mind which offers an amazing view.


Day 2


Window Trail in Big Bend National Park with a Sotol cactus

Window Trail

This is one of the most popular hikes because the payoff is staggering. There has a high level of intrigue all along the trail. As you traverse down to the window there are drastic, yet beautiful, terrain changes.

Do this trail early, the window can get quite crowed and everyone wants to take a gajillion photos in the actual window/pour-off. Also doing this early will give you enough time to see the hot springs in the afternoon.

Photographer in the pour off of the window trail in Big Bend National Park
Old general store in the hot springs district of Big Bend National Park

Hot Springs

Bring your swim trunks!

As you travel to the other side of the park, it will appear that the park seems to change with every mile.  Sometimes you may feel like you’re at the bottom of a dry ocean as you pass through the interesting ocotillos, my favorite “cactus” (thought not a true cactus).

 

the real hot springs on the rio grande rive in Big Bend National Park
an old motel in the hot springs district of Big Bend National Park

Fascinating place and a minimal walk to the actual springs. This area has so much history, starting with an old general store from Big Bends Hot Springs District. The district dates back to 1909, but the store was built in 1927.

The “motel” structure in the hot springs district is a 7 cabin structure called a motor court. It accompanied the 1927 store.

The destination for the Hot Springs District in Big Bend is the hot springs itself. First developed in 1909, the water comes out through a natural thermal process at 105 degrees. The original developer used this to restore his health from malaria. And it actually worked.

 

 

 

 


Day 3


Santa Elena Canyon

What an amazing trail. There are some switch-backs to get high enough to the main trail, but after that you get to traverse into the canyon. My time was ruined by a bunch of idiots smoking dope and yelling into the canyon the whole time, so I hope your’s is better. Save the weed for the camp fire and let folks experience this majestic trail in peace.

Walking to the lower burro messa pour-off in Big Bend National Park

 Lower Burro Mesa Pour Off Trail

This is a quick hike. You will come to the bottom of the pour-off and look straight up to a structure that has been carved for a million years. As stunning as it is, next you will hike to the top of it and peer down. The upper hike is my favorite in the park.

the pour off of the lower mesa burro pour off trail in big bend national park
Upper Burro Mesa Pour Off Trail This is an incredibly fun hike, my favorite at this point. It is more rugged than the other hikes and some rock scrambling is required, but that adds to why it’s so fun. You follow a dry creek bed most of the way as you pass through large rocky terrain and eventually end up in a canyon close to the end. The canyon feels like the one in Star Wars where the Jawas punked R2-D2. When you get to the end, be sure to climb down into the actual pour off and look over – this is the big pay off.
a small canyon through the hike of the upper burro messa pour-off trail in Big Bend National Park
a view of the Chisos Mountains from the upper burro messa pour off trail in Big Bend National Park

Get your bearings.

Familiarize yourself with the park map. Find where you will be in from and where your trails reside in the park. It’s also nice to have a little context to where everything is. Here is a link to Big Bend National Park maps. And be sure to visit the other options in the park.

Big Bend National Park sign entrance from the west Terlingua side