In a very remote part of Texas, there is a National Park larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is so remote, you’re guaranteed a good road trip just getting there. The closest major airport would be El Paso which is 5 hours from Panther Junction, the park’s main visitors center. So for decades, Big Bend had relatively low visitation, but has recently doubled with the holidays taking the brunt of the hit.
Now, I’m not saying don’t visit Big Bend. My point is that you will find the experience exponentially more enjoyable if you avoid the holidays. Here’s why:
I, like many, go to Big Bend to get away. Big Bend is an energizing place that reconnects you to nature and reboots your soul. There is nothing like having the trails or where ever you’re lodging virtually to yourself. My favorite place to stay is Ten Bits Ranch (tell em’ I sent you) because of its secludedness and the perfect setting for astrophotography. But when all your neighbors leave the porch lights on all night, well… if you’re a stargazer, you know. There is also a special intimacy in Terlingua when you get to know the locals, bartenders, business owners, etc. in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The Terlingua Porch on a slow night
Ten Bits Ranch
The lines get bad:
- Over two hour waits to be seated at the Starlight Theatre.
- Extended backups at the park entrances.
- Stressful, very long, fuel lines at the only gas station in Terlingua.
Nobody likes waiting in lines. This takes away your time in the park. Waiting at the entrance and fuel lines will make you late to the trailhead where the next problem awaits you. Parking.
Parking at many trailheads fill up quickly. Especially the popular Lost Mine Trail. If you don’t get parking at Lost Mine, you have to park at the Chisos Basin visitors center 1.5 miles away. And even that fills up where you have to park in overflow at the campgrounds below. The Hot Springs District parking also becomes full causing long queues on a narrow dirt road. And who wants to experience the hot springs like a community pool anyway? I have tips regarding most of the hikes throughout this site, so be sure to check those out.
That time I had the basin to myself
Not only can the community quickly become short-staffed making your experience less enjoyable, but Terlingua has limited water supply. Restaurants will often serve on paper plates during busy times to avoid running dishwashers. And Terlingua time is different. Folks prefer to have an experience instead of rushing through everything. However, some folks just don’t understand this and are entitled to their prompt attentive serive. Just relax, don’t stress. And don’t stress the servers.
Priority: Please respect the locals and the community.
Times to avoid
Basically any holiday but these are the doozies:
- MLK – Big Bend Ultra is on this weekend
- Spring Break
- New Years
I hope this helps make your trip to Big Bend much more enjoyable.
And don’t forget:
RESPECT the land, park rules, the community, and fellow visitors, and always leave it better than you found it.
Here are a couple of videos I made…