There are three campgrounds and an RV Park in Big Bend. They are Chisos Basin (elevation 1,900 feet), Cottonwood (elevation 1,900 feet), and Rio Grande Village (elevation 1,850 feet) and Rio Grande Village RV Park. These campgrounds are open year round. Campsite occupancy is limited to eight people and two vehicles, or one RV plus one vehicle.
No open campfires are allowed.
|Campground||Open||Sites||Dump Station||Laundry||Showers||Groceries||Service Station||Approx Fill Time||RV Length||Fee|
|Chisos Basin *||All Year||63||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Early||24'||$ 10.00|
|Cottonwood||All Year||31||No||No||No||Yes||No||Early||Unk||$ 10.00|
|Rio Grande Village **||All Year||100||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Early||Unk||$ 10.00|
|Rio Grande Village RV Park||All Year||25||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Early||Unk||$ 18.00|
* 26 Campsites at Chisos Basin can be reserved by Calling: 1-877-444-6777 or go Online. See Additional Camping Information Below.
** 43 Campsites at Rio Grand Village can be reserved by Calling: 1-877-444-6777 or go Online. See Additional Camping Information Below.
Additional Camping Information
No generators allowed in the Chisos Basin Campgrounds. Due to the narrow, winding road to the Basin, and small campsites, trailers over 20 feet and RV's over 24 feet are not recommended at this campground.
ALL GROUP CAMPSITES ARE ON THE RESERVATION SYSTEM. Reservations can be made 360 days in advance for a group campsite. Fees are: $ 3.00 per person, per night plus a reservation fee.
Chisos Basin Group Camping: The Chisos Basin Campground has six group camp sites that are available only by advance reservation. The total overnight occupancy for the Chisos Basin group campground is 118 persons. All sites in this campground have a minimum occupancy of 10 persons. Sites L, P, Q, and R hold a maximum of 20 persons each. Sites N and O hold a maximum occupancy of 14 persons each. Site M has a maximum occupancy of 10 persons. Tents larger than 8' X 8' are not recommended because of site layout; however, sites P, Q, and R can accommodate larger tents if necessary. Sites P, Q, and R have shade ramadas.
Cottonwood Group Camping: The Cottonwood Campground has one group camp site that is available only by advance reservation. Maximum occupancy for this group campground is 25 persons. Minimum capacity is 10 persons. This group campground is walk-in tent camping only. Vehicle parking is restricted to an adjacent parking area.
Rio Grand Village Group Camping: The Rio Grande Village Campground has four group camp sites that are available only by advance reservation. The total overnight occupancy for the Rio Grande Village group campground is 120 persons. All sites in this campground have a minimum occupancy of 10 persons. Sites A and B comprise the area on the east side of the comfort station. Maximum occupancy for each site is 20 persons. Sites C and D comprise the area on the west side of the comfort station. Maximum occupancy for each site is 40 persons. This group campground is walk-in tent camping only. Vehicle parking is restricted to an adjacent parking area.
To reserve the group campsite, contact www.reserveusa.com or call 1-877-444-6777. Big Bend National Park cannot make reservations.
The reserved sites at Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin are on the Reservation System from November 15 to April 15 of each year and reservations can be made for these sites 240 days in advance. The non-reserved sites remain on a first come, first serve basis.
ALL CAMP SITES AT CHISOS BASIN CAMPGROUND AND RIO GRANDE VILLAGE ARE FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE FROM APRIL 16 TO NOVEMBER 14 OF EACH YEAR.
To make reservations, visitors must call 1-877-444-6777 or Go Online. BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK DOES NOT MAKE THE RESERVATIONS. There is a Reservation Fee.
Family camp sites are $ 10.00 per night for reserved and non-reserved. And half-price for Golden Age or Golden Access pass holders.
RV Information / Length Restrictions: The road to the Basin and Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive just beyond Sotol Vista Overlook is not recommended for trailers longer than 20 feet and RVs over 24 feet because of sharp curves and steep grades.
There are gas stations at Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village. There are limited auto repairs at Panther Junction.
A concessioner operates an RV park at Rio Grande Village. You must register at the Rio Grande Village Store / Service Station. Full hookup capability is required. First come, first serve. Phone number: 432-477-2293.
There are also numerous backcountry roadside campsites throughout the park. Most require a high clearance or four-wheel drive vehicle. No services or facilities are available at primitive campsites. A backcountry permit is required to camp, and can be obtained free of charge at any visitor center.
Campsite occupancy is limited to eight people and two vehicles, or one RV plus one vehicle.
No Open Fires are permitted due to the fire hazard risk. Carry your own stove, food and water and bring it all out with you plus a little extra. Leave it better than you found it, please.
A parkwide limit of 14 days occupancy is in effect February 1 to April 15 for any developed campsite including the concession operated trailer sites at Rio Grande Village. During the rest of the year, a limit of 14 days occupancy is in effect per campground visit, but occupancy beyond 14 days may be authorized by campground managing personnel on a day to day basis if sites are available for new arrivals. A limit of 28 nights per year is in effect.
During holiday periods, particularly Easter / Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the main campgrounds and most primative sites are likely to be full. If you plan to camp in the primitive sites, come prepared with a portable table, folding chairs, water container, and a portable grill. In addition to the primitave areas within the park, there are several private camping facilities adjacent to the park.
Backpackers have many opportunities throughout the park. Open (zone) camping is available in desert areas with a backcountry permit. Designated backcountry campsites in the high Chisos Mountains are available with a backcountry permit on a first-come, first-serve basis. This permit must be obtained in person up to 24 hours in advanced of your trip. Because of the unreliability of desert springs, it is virtually impossible to plan an extended backpacking trip prior to your arrival in the park.
Bear in mind how much distance you want to cover and how much time you have. Based on that information and current conditions, personnel at park visitor centers can assist you with your trip planning. You can begin to familiarize yourself with Big Bend's trails by obtaining a "Hiker's Guide, Chisos Mountains Trails" guide, and topo maps of the park. These can be purchased at visitor centers upon arrival in the park, or they can be ordered in advance of your visit from the Big Bend Natural History Association by writing or calling.
Big Bend Natural History Association
PO Box 196
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
Primitive Sites List
Northeastern Area - Campsites from the North Entrance along the Eastern area of the Park - North to South
Southern Area - Campsites along the Rio Grande River and the Park, US and Mexico Border
Western Area - Campsites along the West Border of the Park - starting South to North
Central Area - Campsites in the Central area of the Park - Clockwise
The Rio Grande forms the southern boundary of Big Bend National Park as well as the international boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. The river borders the park for 118 miles. In this distance it has carved three major canyons which vary in depth from 1200 feet to 1500 feet. Pursuant to a 1978 act designating the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, an additional 127 miles of river downstream from the park are managed for recreation and preservation by the National Park Service. Like the three canyons of Big Bend, the "Lower Canyons" are steep and sheer walled. In certain locations there is considerable white water which can be very dangerous to a novice. Between the canyons, the Rio Grande is generally slow and quiet. For river trips in Big Bend National Park or on the Wild and Scenic River, a free permit, obtainable at any visitor center, is required.
Three options are available:
The name Big Bend refers to the great U-turn the Rio Grande makes here in Southwest Texas. The river is an arching linear oasis, a ribbon of green strung across the dry desert and cutting through its mountains. As do all rivers that survive desert passages, the Rio Grande has its headwaters outside this desert. Today, much of the water flowing through the park is supplied by the Rio Conchos, flowing out of Mexico, and not by the Rio Grande. Much of the flow of the Rio Grande is diverted for irrigation or lost to evaporation before reaching the park's western boundary. The Rio Grande defines the park's southern boundary for 118 miles. The garfish and some turtles in the river are living fossils that help describe its former life as a lush savannah and swamp 50 million years ago. Their ancestors swam in company with crocodiles and hippopotamus-like creatures.
If you wonder about the river's carving power, did it really cut such colossal canyons?--paddle an aluminum canoe down the Rio Grande. The canoe will seem to hiss as thousands of abrasive particles bounce off its hull. The river is like a relentless, gravity-powered belt sander that has been running for millions of years.
Among the most startling sights in this desert country may be the tooth marks of beaver on cottonwood or willow trees along the river. But don't look for beaver lodges. The beaver in the Big Bend live in bank burrows. The river is an oasis for species not adapted to the aridity of desert life, and so it adds to the park's biological diversity.
The river floodplain provides good areas for birdwatchers. Some birders maintain that the birds in the floodplain are more colorful than elsewhere. Here you find summer tanagers, painted buntings, vermilion flycatchers and cardinals serving as accent colors to the background greens of floodplain foliage. This ribbon-like floodplain verdancy, seen from a distance, appears as a green belt in the desert. It is a phenomenon seen elsewhere in the park along arroyos, or washes. Undoubtedly you will find birds and other animals making ample use of this interruption of more arid desert vegetation.
On the river's gravel and sandbars and on its cliffbanks are other creatures you would not expect to find in the Chihuahuan Desert. The sandpiper and killdeer bob and sprint on the sandbars, and the cliff swallow flies up to its adobe nest fashioned of river mud.
Part 3, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and State law establish the regulations for boating in Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. These pertain to the United States side of the Rio Grande and certain other park waters. Here is a condensed version of those regulations. Full regulations may be examined at Park Headquarters. It is your obligation to be aware of the full regulations.
Boating Permit: A boat permit is required for day and overnight boating in the Big Bend National Park. A permit is also required on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River below the park but is not required for day use. The permit is available free of charge from any Park Ranger or at the park visitor centers.
Personal Floation Devices (PFDs): Boats of less than 16 feet in length (including canoes and kayaks) must be equipped with one wearable Coast Guard approved PFD for each person aboard.
Boats 16 feet and longer must be equipped with one wearable Coast Guard approved PFD for each person aboard plus one Type IV (throwable device).
All non-motorized and motorized crafts are required to use Type I, III, or V PFDs in Santa Elena, Mariscal, and the Lower Canyons. PFDs must be worn in Class II or greater whitewater.
Boat Numbers and Registration: All motorboats must be numbered and have a certificate of number in full force and effect. Numbers shall be three inches in height or greater and be placed on each side of the bow along with a validation decal.
Water Skiing: Water skiing, or the towing of persons by a motorized vessels, is prohibited.
Accidents: All accidents involving an injury or with property damage of $ 100.00 or more shall be reported to the superintendent within 24 hours.
Section 2.3 and Section 7.41, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, as well as State law establish the regulations for fishing in Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River as applicable to the United States side of the Rio Grande and certain other park waters. Here is a condensed version of those regulations. Full regulations may be examined at any Visitor Center. It is your obligation to be aware of the full regulations.
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