If you live in Florida and travel to southern California in the winter, you can’t avoid Texas. Not being able to bear yet another three days traversing I-10 we went south and visited Big Bend National Park.
Getting to Big Bend National Park
We traveled from a Harvest Hosts site in Anthony, New Mexico to Alpine, Texas. Along the way, we stopped in Marfa because a friend had suggested this small, artsy community. We spent the night at the Lost Alaskan RV Park, choosing it because of its unusual name. We got the last available spot at this well-maintained park and never did find out what the origin of the name was.
Because we don’t tow, the next morning we picked up a rental car at the Alpine Auto Rental. This appears to be the only game in town, and perhaps the nearest place to Big Bend National Park if you need a car. I entered our destination into the GPS and was told it was only 72 miles away. Sweet! I drove the car, and Denise drove Olga and we were on our way by 10 am.
The route to Big Bend is wide open…taking Rt. 90 then 385, you could drive 10 minutes or more without seeing another car. We arrived at the Big Bend entrance sign and thought we were home. Kinda…..
Big Bend Camping Options
A friendly ranger checked our Senior Passes, offered a map, bulletin and several suggestions for our stay. He then told us we were about 45 minutes from our campsite. This was our first indication that there is a reason BIG is the first word in Big Bend National Park.
We had made reservations months in advance at the only option inside the park with hook-ups, Rio Grande Village RV Campground. Many campers will be willing to give up full hook-ups for a more remote campground. This campground is essentially a parking lot next to the Rio Grande Village store. Please don’t misunderstand, we wanted full hookups during our 5-day stay, and having access to wi-fi at the store just a few feet away was a plus. But if you are looking for a natural setting, or want to be more than 10′ from the RV next door choose one of the other options.
Big Bend is BIG
Our first night we walked up a nearby peak and watched the sunset. The thought of walking the mile back to our campground in complete darkness was a bit off-putting, but everything was fine. This is dark sky country, so stargazers will love the evenings.
We visited a new fossil exhibit one day and took scenic drives on other days…stopping from time to time to take a few photos, a short hike, or listen to the silence.
We choose not to participate in one of Big Bend’s biggest draws, kayaking or canoeing down the river. We have spoken to many who have done these tours and were very pleased. But if you are going to make the trip, keep in mind you will need to drive to an independent outfitter that is outside of the park. It could take you an hour or more to get to the outfitter so plan accordingly.
If you are traveling to Big Bend National Park, plan ahead. Like Yellowstone, we felt like we hadn’t seen most of the park after staying there for five days. Take time to research everything the park has to offer before you go. Because trust me, once you get there you won’t have cell or internet service unless you huddle with other campers right next to a camp store. But frankly, that is one of the benefits of preserving our national park system.