Big Bend National Park cabins
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Big Bend National Park vacation rentals
Your guide to Big Bend National Park
Wild and rugged, Big Bend National Park is situated in the Chihuahuan Desert in southwest Texas on the border between the United States and Mexico. Intrepid visitors trek to the secluded, 800,000-acre park to explore its immense canyons, swathes of desert, and rocky mountains. And with 100 miles of paved scenic roads, 150 miles of trails, and rafting trips down the mighty Rio Grande, there’s plenty to keep you busy, whether you’re staying for a few weeks or a few days.
Most of the rental cabins here are located outside the park in Terlingua, home to the Terlingua Ghost Town, a 19th-century mining town that was abandoned in the 1940s. No matter where you stay, cap off the day with some stargazing; this isolated area has some of the clearest night skies in the country.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Big Bend National Park?
Summers in Big Bend are blazing hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer is also the rainy season, which can bring heavy thunderstorms and the risk of flash flooding, so it’s important to check the forecast. At the same time, less extreme rain patterns cool the desert floor and bring welcome relief from the heat.
The milder months of November through April are by far the park’s busiest. Temperatures usually range in the 60s and up to 70 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but can also drop below freezing. The climate changes drastically within the park, too: It’s usually about 20 degrees hotter on the desert floor than it is in the Chisos Mountains. You’ll want to pack for anything: bring hiking boots, a wide-brimmed hat, warm- and cold-weather clothes, and sunscreen.
What are the top things to do in Big Bend National Park?
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
The 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive winds up the western slopes of the Chisos Mountains and then down to the Rio Grande. It is packed with scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and historic sites. Be sure to stop at the Sam Nail Ranch, an abandoned building with a still-functioning windmill that sustains some fruit trees and native plants.
Santa Elena Canyon
One of the most photographed features in Big Bend, the Santa Elena Canyon straddles the Rio Grande: One of its massive 1,500-foot limestone walls is in Mexico, and the other is in the United States. A short nature trail runs down from the terminus of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive into the canyon, but the best way to experience this area is by raft or canoe with a local outfitter.
The Chisos Mountains dominate the landscape at the center of the park and offer some great, easily accessible hiking such as the 4.8-mile Lost Mine Trail; the strenuous, 14.5-mile South Rim Trail; and the 5.6-mile Window Trail, named for an opening in the mountains that reveals the cacti-dotted desert below.