Big Bend in One Day
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Big Bend in One Day
You can drive the paved roads of the park in a day, but you miss the most striking parts if you don't get out and hike. Two not-to-miss trails are those through the rifts and boulders of Santa Elena Canyon and the rocky pinnacles of the Chisos Mountain Basin.
Access the Santa Elena trailhead from a turnaround at the end of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive at the southwestern rim of the park. From there, take the Santa Elena Canyon Trail (1.7 mi round-trip). You'll need to wade Terlingua Creek, and then enter the canyon, home to gargantuan rocks, singular rock formations, and the Rio Grande sandwiched between sheer cliffs. Back at the trailhead take Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive 30 mi back north and turn east at Santa Elena Junction.
Drive to the Chisos Mountains Basin Junction and turn south on Chisos Basin Road. This scenic drive will take you to the heart of Big Bend, where you can amble leisurely along a less-than-half-mile hike along the Window View Trail. Settle in for a picnic lunch near the Chisos Basin Visitor Center.
Drive north back to the junction, turn east, and drive 23 mi to Rio Grande Village. Stroll through the tall, shady cottonwoods in the picnic area, home to many birds, including roadrunners. If you have the time, follow the signs to the natural hot spring and take a dip.
Before calling it a day, drive east to the Boquillas Canyon overlook and view the Mexican village of Boquillas on the south side of the Rio Grande.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $99-$149 -- Galveston Beachside Resort thru Spring, 45% Off Holiday Inn Resorts Galveston on the Beach
- $109 -- Houston: Downtown Hotel near Convention Center Courtyard Houston Downtown/Convention Center
- $8 & up -- Car Rentals across Texas CarRentals.com
- $118 & up -- Dallas 4-Star Hotel incl. Weekends, 50% Off — $118 Sheraton Dallas Hotel
- $56 -- 4-Star North Dallas Hotel — $56 Hotwire.com