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

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

If you happen to didn’t assume Texas had sweeping mountains, dramatic peaks, and countless mountain views, put together to be wowed. That is easy methods 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 must make some powerful decisions. I truly started within the Huge Bend State Park, which is correct subsequent door, with probably the greatest Rio Grande river views you could find for the sundown.

This space is named large hill, or if you happen to examine on Google Maps, it’s known 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 truly units, as a result of it goes down these canyon partitions shortly. From right here you’ll be looking 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 subsequent morning for dawn, if you happen to’re up for an early get up, which I extremely advocate, the Misplaced Mine path supplies beautiful views. You solely have to hike in a couple of mile in on the path to observe because the rising solar paints the rocks purple 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 car 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 best way with facet hikes and overlooks, just like the Sotol Vista pictured above, so give your self loads of time for this one. Elective facet hikes embrace:

  • Decrease Burro Mesa Path – A straightforward, 30 minute hike with pretty canyon views and probabilities to see spring wildflowers.
  • Chimneys Path – One other brief and flat hike, although if deciding between Decrease Burro and this one, decide the Decrease Burro.
  • Mule Ears Springs Path – Pretty views of some distinctive rock formations and an awesome spot for evening pictures.
  • Tuff Canyon Overlook – This fast roadside cease appears to be like 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 – Take a look at some previous buildings and ruins on this roadside pulloff.
  • Santa Elena Canyon Overlook – A fast cease in your approach all the way down to hike or kayak the Canyon.

Santa Elena Canyon

In all probability essentially the most photographed and well-known function of Huge Bend, the Santa Elena Canyon presents an opportunity to play in, kayak on, hike by, or hike beside the Rio Grande. Benefit from the coolness of the canyon whereas being in two locations without delay – break up between Texas and Mexico.

Relying on how excessive the water is, you might have to get your ft moist to cross the Rio Grande with a view to entry the path. Because of this, I might advocate sneakers that do nicely in water. I additionally observed individuals who introduced kayaks to kayak down the river and must 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 at the start of the path, simply after crossing the river. It’s a brief, simple path with a little bit of elevation loss and achieve that finishes at a pleasant view wanting 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 further 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 distinct view. I knew that the nearly-full moon could 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 highway nearer to mile 3, offering extra of a facet profile of 1 facet of the Home windows.

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

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

Grapevine Hills and Balanced Rock

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

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

You’ve received about an hour earlier than the dawn will illuminate the rock formations on this canyon, so that you catch a couple of further Zs than you might if climbing the Misplaced Mine path for dawn, by comparability.

South Rim and Emory Peak

The South Rim view by Davey Nin used below Inventive Commons

By far the longest and most difficult suggestion on this checklist, the south rim hike supplies the most important reward when it comes to attractive views. This hike is about 12 miles round-trip, and also you’ll have the choice so as to add on Emory Peak as nicely. If you happen to select to do that as a day hike, take into account this isn’t acceptable for {the summertime}, and also you’ll wish to go away 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 below 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 receive a backcountry allow and switch this into an in a single day hike, as there are a couple of established backcountry campsites alongside the rim. The most effective case situation for me could be the chance to observe the sundown, stargaze, and catch the dawn taking a look at this unimaginable view.

Stargazing Strategies

Among the best issues about being in such a distant location is the chance to see the evening sky in her full glory. The most effective 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 pictures alternatives, moonlight will severely inhibit your capability to see the celebrities, so just be sure you go throughout a brand new moon if you’re going particularly to stargaze. I discover Moon Large 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 nicely. They’ve a lot character and character!

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 present 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 in style, however from what I hear it’s price it!

There’s an previous 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.


If you happen to’re planning on spending the vast majority of your time in large Bend nationwide Park itself, essentially the most handy choice are campground reservations within the park, though they have an inclination to e book out fairly far prematurely through 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 selection and an choice for individuals who need extra selection than simply hikes within the park.

In case you have extra time, the most effective case situation could 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 course of nowhere, you’ll have a protracted drive no matter the place you’re coming from. Most individuals fly into El Paso. On the best way, I extremely advocate stopping in Fort Davis to interrupt up the 5-hour drive.

The Davis Mountains State Park presents attractive views of the encircling space and is a superb place to catch the sundown. Drive to the top of the Skyline Drive for the most effective views.

Afterwards, I extremely advocate going to the McDonald Observatory for certainly one of their star events (calendar right here). This offers you a chance to look by their telescopes at stars and constellations. That is one other time when it might be prudent to take the moon phases into consideration, as darkish skies make for a significantly better stargazing.

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

Seasonal Issues

Huge Bend can get scorching in the summertime, with temperatures frequently topping 90°F. Summer season 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 could 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 in style instances to go to. I went in early February and was delighted by how uncrowded it was!

No matter once you go, Huge Bend presents a novel alternative for darkish skies, attractive hikes, and exquisite solitude.

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*This put up was dropped at you in collaboration with Journey Texas. All ideas on the great thing about Huge Bend are my very own.

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