Big Bend National Park

25 April 2018

We’d eyeballed Big Bend for some time and with a great weather forecast, decided we had to go for it. 

After researching the roads and limited camping in the park, we opted instead for an RV Ranch just outside of the park, Stillwell Store and RV Ranch.  They offer a mix of full hook-ups, or power and water, with a nearby dump station, or flat out boondocking.  Rates were $22 a night for 30 Amp power and water, our choice. 

The staff were very knowledgeable about the park and things to see and do.  We spent 4 nights day tripping into the park.  There are a few small stores and gas stations within the park, so topping up wasn’t an issue.  Campsites are in the centre of the park at Chisos Basin, limited by roads and sites to 20 foot RVs. Rio Grande Village is at the southeast corner, which can accommodate larger rigs, but reservations well in advance are required at the Western entrance to the park, which was closed February due to construction. 

The park consists of three distinct regions, the Rio Grande, defining the southern border of the park with Mexico, the Chisos, a mountain oasis teaming with life, and the surrounding desert.  The eastern desert is famous for the fossil discoveries, and there is an excellent fossil discovery area.  We toured the desert day one. 

Day two, we headed for Rio Grande Village, intent on an invasion of Mexico.  The Rio Grande could have been easily swam, or waded in parts, but we opted for a legal invasion.  A U.S. Customs Office, manned by friendly staff, brief you on the process, and answer any questions you might have.  It’s then a short walk to the river, where a wave gets you a rowboat, at $5 per person, return.  When you reach Mexico, about 15 seconds later, you can choose to walk the ½ mile, take a mule, or a truck.  Walking is free, mule was $5, again round-trip.  Never having ridden mules, we chose to ride. 

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It was a lot of fun, and our guide was a wealth of information.  He remained with us throughout our day, breezing us through Mexican customs, helping negotiate souvenir prices, and the local restaurant menu.  All the while, answering all of our questions about the local history, culture, and wildlife.  We had a great time, short as it was. 

After returning stateside, we hit the local hiking trails. One takes you to a wonderful spot to swim on the Rio Grande.  Our second took us to hot springs, also on the river. 

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Day 3, we headed for the mountains, which are a dramatic change from the hills and desert of the rest of the park.  We hit several hiking trails, spotted some deer, and lots of birds.  Our final day we hit the western areas of the park, with incredible views and amazing volcanic formations.  Texas is indeed an RVer’s dream.  Just plan big!

Read about Dave & Leeann's last adventure here.

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