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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

4 Days in Big Bend National Park

Updated: Jul 25

Dramatic cloud formation
Big Bend National Park

Visiting Big Bend National Park for four days offered us ample time to explore this vast and beautiful area. The park spans over 800,000 acres and encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, from rugged mountains and deep canyons to the vast expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert. With four days, we got to hike some of the park's most iconic trails, including the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, and Boquillas Canyon Trail which offered breathtaking views and challenging terrain.

While traveling through West Texas one of the highlights of the drive was a sculpture by Elmgreen and Dragset that looked like a Prada store outside of Marfa Texas on US Route 90. For the start of this road trip go to Along the Southern Border.

A Friendly to Big Bend NP Big Bend NP Trail Guide

Arriving at Big Bend National Park we checked in at Rio Grande Village RV Park on the eastern side of the park. There are 20 sites with no hookups that need to be reserved at We stayed here for 4 days.

Our campsite at Big Bend national Park showing are jeep  and trailer
Big Bend Campsite

The Rio Grande is one of the most striking features of the park, forming its southern boundary and offering numerous opportunities for rafting and kayaking. During our visit, we enjoyed two sunset hikes on the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, where we were treated to stunning views of the river and surrounding mountains in the warm glow of the golden and blue hours. The unique cloud formations added to the otherworldly atmosphere, making for a truly memorable experience.

Sunset with the Rio Grande river in the foreground and orange cliffs in the background at big bend national park

Sunset with the Rio Grande river in the foreground and orange cliffs in the background at big bend national park

Two wild burros on the hillside
Wild burros

Sunset with the Rio Grande river in the foreground and orange cliffs in the background at big bend national park
Dramatic clouds at sunset

Sunset with the Rio Grande river in the foreground and orange cliffs in the background at big bend national park
Dramatic colorful red clouds over the landscape

Nevada Barr Big Bend Mystery Novel

Hiking the Boquillas Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park was a highlight of our visit to the park. The trail winds along the scenic Rio Grande, offering stunning views of the towering canyon walls, unique rock formations, and crystal-clear waters of the river. The trail is relatively easy, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels, and offers a chance to explore one of the park's most beautiful natural wonders up close. Mexican vendors would cross the Rio Grande River from Ojo Caliente to sell their wares to hikers.

Lorna hiking Boquillas Canyon Trail with Grass and Canyon walls at big bend national park
Lorna hiking Boquillas Canyon Trail

 Boquillas Canyon Trail along the river with steep canyon walls
Boquillas Canyon Trail

Lorna with a vendor on the trail under a tree
Lorna with a vendor

The Santa Elena Canyon was at the top of my list of must-see places in Big Bend National Park, so we drove across the park for a daytime visit. As soon as I saw the canyon, I knew it would be the perfect spot for a sunrise photo, so we made plans to return the next morning. The sunrise did not disappoint, and we even had the opportunity to stand in the river for some truly amazing photos. After taking in the sunrise, we hiked into the canyon and were blown away by the incredible views up the river and the stunning reflections. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

Mick photographing Santa Elena Canyon, with other photographers in the Rio Grande river at big bend national park
Photographers at the entrance to the canyon at sunrise

soft sunrise light on the canyon walls with the river in the foreground
Sunrise at Santa Elena Canyon

hiker at the entrance to the canyon next to the river
Starting the hike into the canyon

cliff walls reflected in the river
Inside Santa Elena Canyon

On our way back and forth across the park we stopped at various viewpoints and did a drive up Basin Junction Road to check out the Chisos Mountains Lodge and Campground.

Big Bend Landscape of Hills mountains and a cloudy sky at big bend national park
Formation called Mule Ears

bluebonnet flowers with ocotillo and cactus with  sunrise light on the mountains
Bluebonnett flowers with ocotillo and cactus at sunrise

In conclusion, Big Bend National Park is a remarkable destination that offers something for every type of traveler, from stunning vistas and unique geological formations to diverse wildlife and recreational opportunities. Whether you are seeking a relaxing getaway or an adventurous outdoor experience, the park has something to offer. The Rio Grande, the Santa Elena Canyon, and the Boquillas Canyon Trail are just a few of the park's must-see highlights that offer unforgettable experiences and opportunities for exploration. If you are planning a trip to Big Bend National Park, be sure to take your time, soak in the natural beauty of the park, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

On to Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Lorna's Tips and Lessons

During the drive to Big Bend, I learned a huge lesson. It was our second day of long drives, with few stops. At one gas stop, I got out and immediately found myself in great pain. It was impossible to get back in the truck. I had to walk for about an hour and stretch before the pain subsided enough to get back in the truck, where I continued to stretch. I now get out and stretch and walk for 10-15 minutes at least once every 2 hours. We find shifting drivers every 2 hours keeps us more alert. We look for quirky stops, such as the Prada display in the middle of nowhere. It is worth the extra time. Putting some heat on my back also helps. Our truck's heated seats work well for this. However, if you don’t have heated seats you might consider getting a cordless heating pad.


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