Backcountry Camping / Hiking
Obtain a backcountry permit for any overnight use. Building ground fires is prohibited. Fire danger in Chisos Mountains may be extreme. Pets are prohibited on park trails and in the backcountry. Besides highcountry trails, there are numerous rewarding hikes in the lower desert region, ask a ranger about them. Be wary of high water and low spots when camping. Do not camp in arroyos or washes, they may become raging rivers while you sleep.
For Campground information, Click Here.
The best season to bicycle in the park is between October and April, when daytime temperatures are pleasant and evenings are cool.
For Biking information, Click Here.
Click Here for Boating information, .
Camping is allowed in campgrounds and at designated backcountry sites with a free permit. Building wood or ground fires is prohibited.
For Campground information, Click Here.
Observe posted speed limits. The maximum speed limit in Big Bend is 45 mph. If water crossings are flooded by seasonal storms, wait out the high water. A few minutes wait is better than having your vehicle swept downstream and endangering your life and those with you. No vehicles may be driven off established roads. Backcountry roads are subject to closure from storm damage. Check on road conditions before driving unpaved routes. Watch for wildlife at night. Animals blinded by your headlights may stay on the road.
|Private Non-commercial Vehicle||$ 15.00 (7 Day Pass)|
|Individual Entry||$ 5.00 (7 Day Pass)|
|Big Bend Park Pass||$ 30.00 (1 Year - Unlimited Entry)|
|Gold Access Pass (Blind or permanently disabled individuals)||Free (Lifetime - good in all natl parks)|
|Golden Age Pass (1 time fee - for those 62+)||$ 10.00 (Lifetime - good in all natl parks)|
|National Park Pass (good 1 year from date of purchase)||$ 50.00 (good in all natl parks)|
|Golden Eagle Pass (good 1 year from date of purchase)||$ 15.00 (good in all natl forests)|
National Park Pass Information
National Parks Pass
The National Parks Pass is an annual pass that provides admission to any national park charging an entrance fee. The Pass costs $ 50.00 and is valid for 12 months (ending the last day of the purchase month, one year later). More than 80% of the proceeds from the sales of National Park Passes go directly into supporting priority projects in national parks.
Where a "Per Vehicle" entrance fee is charged, the Pass admits the Pass signee and accompanying passengers in a single, private*, non-commercial vehicle. Where a "Per Person" entrance fee is charged, the Pass admits the Pass signee, spouse, children and parents. The Pass is nontransferable and does not cover or reduce use fees such as charges for camping, parking, tours and concessions.
Golden Eagle Pass
For an additional $ 15.00, a Golden Eagle hologram may be purchased and affixed to a National Parks Pass to cover entrance fees at not only national parks, but also at sites managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U. S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The Golden Eagle holograms are available at National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management fee stations. The Golden Eagle admits the pass signee and any accompanying passengers in a private* vehicle if a park has a per vehicle entrance fee. Where a per person entrance fee is charged, the Golden Eagle admits the pass signee, spouse, children and parents. The Golden Eagle is nontransferable and does NOT cover or reduce use fees such as charges for camping, parking, tours, and concessions. It is valid for entrance fees only. The Golden Eagle hologram is valid until the expiration of the National Parks Pass to which it is affixed.
Golden Age Pass
If you are age 62 or older, you qualify for a Golden Age Passport. The Golden Age Pass is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are age 62 or older. The Golden Age Pass is a lifetime entrance pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee. The Golden Age Pass admits the pass signee and any accompanying passengers in a private* vehicle if a park has a per vehicle entrance fee. Where a per person entrance fee is charged, the Golden Age Pass admits the pass signee, spouse, and children.
The Golden Age Pass also provides a 50% discount on federal use fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours. In some cases where use fees are charged, only the pass signee will be given the 50% price reduction. The Pass is nontransferable and does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners. A Golden Age Pass must be obtained in person at a federal area where an entrance fee is charged. There is a one-time $ 10.00 processing charge to obtain the Golden Age Pass. It is available only to citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are 62 years of age or older. You must show proof of age, such as a state driver's license, birth certificate, or similar document.
Golden Access Pass
If you have a permanent disability, you may qualify for a Golden Access Passport. The Golden Access Pass is a lifetime entrance pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee. The Golden Access Pass admits the pass signee and any accompanying passengers in a private* vehicle if a park has a per vehicle entrance fee. Where a per person entrance fee is charged, the Golden Access Pass admits the pass signee, spouse, and children.
The Golden Access Pass also provides a 50% discount on federal use fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours. In some cases where use fees are charged, only the pass signee will be given the 50% price reduction. The Pass is nontransferable and does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners. A Golden Access Pass must be obtained in person at a federal area where an entrance fee is charged. It is available only to citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are medically determined to be blind or permanently disabled. You may obtain a Golden Access Pass by showing proof of medically determined permanent disability, or eligibility for receiving benefits under federal law.
* A private vehicle is defined as any noncommercial vehicle that is being used for private recreational purposes.
The National Parks Pass may be purchased at any National Park office or entry station.
To purchase a pass Online, click on this Link, or to purchase via phone, call: 1-888-467-2757.
Commercial Entrance Fees
Commercial tour groups pay an entrance fee based on the capacity of the tour vehicle. Golden Age, Golden Eagle and Golden Access passports are not valid for free entry with commercial tour groups (except for sedans).
Sedan: 1-6 persons - $ 25.00 plus the individual entrance fee $ 5.00 for each passenger*
Van: 7-15 persons - $ 75.00
Mini-Bus: 16-25 persons - $ 100.00
Motor Coach: 26+ persons - $ 200.00
Note: Passenger capacity does not include driver.
* Individuals with a National Parks Pass, Golden Age or Golden Access passports, or the Big Bend Annual Pass, do not pay the individual entrance fee in sedans. However, the $ 25.00 commercial fee for the group still applies.
Entrance Fee Waiver - Educational or Scientific Waivers
Fee Waiver Qualifications - In order to qualify for a waiver, a group must meet all of the following criteria:
How to Apply
Complete the Fee Waiver for Educational Study form and mail it, along with the criteria listed above, in writing, at least two weeks in advance of your visit to:
ATTN: Janie Mayton
National Park Service
P.O. Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129
Note: The proposed trip must be sanctioned as an approved school educational activity by an authorized school official. The form must be signed by the school�s principal, department head, or other appropriate official.
Other than groups traveling as part of a commercial tour, individuals 16 years or under, or individuals 62 years and older possessing Golden Age Passports, or permanently disabled persons possessing Golden Access Passports, are exempt from park entry fees. If an educational fee waiver has not been granted, all others must pay the required entrance fees.
Be sure each vehicle has a copy of the approved fee waiver in its possession at the entrance gate or they will be charged normal entrance fees.
Call: 432-477-1121 for additional assistance.
Application for Resource Education Fee Waiver
The fee waiver application is available as:
Editable MS Word Document (28 KB)
Adobe Acrobat PDF File (10 KB)
The Lesson Plan form is available as:
Editable MS Word Document (11 KB)
Adobe Acrobat PDF File (25 KB)
Fishing licenses are not required within the park. Park rangers can supply fishing information.For additional fishing information, Click Here.
All firearms must be unloaded, broken down and concealed. Using or displaying firearms is prohibited.
Food and Supplies
The only restaurant in the park, is Chisos Mountain Lodge. There are also limited groceries, cold drinks, film and camping supplies at Basin, Castolon, Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village. In the Big Bend Visitor Centers, you may buy film, maps, as well as other informational materials. You can always bring your own food or there are restaurants in the local communities listed above.
Inside Big Bend National Park, there are three campgrounds and an RV Park in Big Bend. They are Chisos Basin, Cottonwood and Rio Grande Village and Rio Grande Village RV Park. These campgrounds are open year round. See the Camping Page for more information. The only other lodging available is Chisos Mountain Lodge. There are only 72 rooms in the lodge and six cabins. The lodge does have a restaurant. For information on lodging, see the Lodging Page or write:
National Park Concessions
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
Permits and Fees
There is a fee for camping. See the Camping Page for details. Permits are needed for boating, and backcountry camping.
Pets must be leashed at all times and are prohibited on trails, in the backcountry, in public buildings, on the Rio Grande or anywhere off established roadways. There are no kennels in the park, one is open seasonally outside the park. Pets may not be left unattended in the campground or in vehicles. Consider your plans very carefully before you bring your pet with you.
Poisonous Reptiles and Insects
A copperhead and four rattlesnakes species live here but rarely are seen in daytime. They are protected by law, do not harm them. At night, stay on trails and carry a flashlight. Snakes, scorpions, tarantulas and other wildlife generally won't harm you unless you annoy them. Get prompt attention in case of accident or injury.
Programs and Activities
Join a National Park Service ranger to explore Big Bend's natural and cultural history. Join a ranger on a hike or walk and learn about the forces that once shaped this landscape - and continue to do so, see the Calendar Page. Regularly scheduled walks, guided hikes and evening campfire programs by rangers are scheduled all year. Check bulletin boards in the park for details. Also, check at the visitor centers for information on the Junior Ranger program for children ages six through eleven. These are just some of the ways to discover the diversity of the scenic, natural and historic wonders that comprise Big Bend National Park.
Roads and Trails
There are five driving tours of Big Bend National park. They include two scenic drives of Chisos Mountain Basin Road and Ross Maxwell Drive. There are backcountry dirt roads that require high clearance and four wheel drive.
For a detailed list of Big Bend hiking possibilities, with locations and trails, see the Hiking Page. Hiking trails of varying length and difficulty lead to and through different areas of Big Bend National Park.
Spines and Thorns
Spines and thorns of cactuses and other plants are hazardous. Wear stout shoes and clothing for off-trail hiking. Carry tweezers to remove small spines.
Swimming and Wading
Swimming in the Rio Grande is neither prohibited nor encouraged. The Rio Grande is dangerous because of strong currents, submerged snags and sudden drop-offs. The Rio Grande claims the lives of more swimmers and waders than river runners. Check with the rangers and be very careful!
Stay on established trails to prevent erosion and slides. Smoking on trails is not allowed. Carry out all refuse.
For Hiking information, Click Here.
Visitor centers are located at: Castolon, Chisos Basin, Panther Junction, Persimmon Gap and Rio Grande Village. Chisos Basin and Panther Junction are open year round.
|Facility||Dates Opened||Hours||Location||Available Facilities|
|Castolon||Seasonal||8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily||Southwest corner of the park - 35 miles from Panther Junction|
|Chisos Basin||All Year||9:00 am to 4:30 pm daily
Closed for Lunch
|Central area of park - 9 miles from Panther Junction / 35 miles from North Entrance||Information is available and books, maps, restrooms, water, phones, etc.|
|Panther Junction||All Year||8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily
Closed on Christmas & New Years
|Central area of the park - 26 miles from the North Entrance||A short orientation program is shown in the auditorium. Information is available and books, maps, restrooms, water, phones, etc.|
|Persimmon Gap||Seasonal||8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily
Thu 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Closed for Lunch
|At the North Entrance|
|Rio Grande Village||Seasonal||8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily||Southeast corner of the park - 20 miles from Panther Junction|
Carrying drinking water in desert country. Hikers require one gallon per day per person. Start your return trip before half your water is gone. Treat spring water before drinking and don't drink the river water.
Annual precipitation is just under 10 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 lighting 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 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.
For current conditions, forecasts and more information on Big Bend National Park weather, Click Here.
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Flora & Fauna
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Junior Ranger Programs
Mountain Lion & Black Bear
Poisonous Reptiles & Insects
Size & Visitation Info