Big Bend National Park, February 2019

The first real stop on our 2 month road trip from New Orleans to Grass Valley was Big Bend National Park, right on the Texas/Mexico border along the Rio Grande. February is a great time to visit this amazing park, when the wildflowers are all in bloom, and it’s not too hot. Most days were a high of around 70, and a low of around 40.

Big Bend is a rather complicated park to camp in, as only about 50% of the regular camping spots are reservable, the rest being first-come-first serve. At peak season (Feb-April), the park is 100% full 7 nights a week, so its tricky to get a spot, as spots are gone by 10am. So a lot of people stay in an RV park just outside the park the first night, so they can drive around the unreserved sites at 9am, looking for people packing up, and grab their spot.

The park also has about 50 amazing ‘backcountry’ camping spots scattered around the park on gravel roads, many of which require 4WD, and all of which require a reservation made “up to 24 hrs” in advance. The rangers will tell you what day a given spot is suppose to free up, so you can come back and try to claim it the day before. The first ranger tried to tell us most of the roads were too rough for a Sprinter, but we drove down a couple of them, and decided they were fine. The second ranger was willing to reserve us an amazing backcountry spot (see photo link below).

We ended up doing 2 nights in first campground, 4 nights of back country, and 2 more nights at the last campground. While it is pretty hard to find a campsite this time of the year, the park still feels very empty. At our backcountry spot, we could see no sign of civilization for as far as the eye can see. The week we were there the wild flowers were in full bloom, apparently one of the best wildflower years in a long time.

It’s very easy to cross from Mexico into the National Park (you just wade across the Rio Grande), and we heard that 30+ illegal immigrants were caught in the park while we were there. It seems like it would be very hard for them to get anywhere though, as there were lots of Border Patrol vehicles and checkpoints outside the park.

We also spent one night in Terlingua, a small town of artists and misfits, which is definitely worth a visit. They let us stay in the parking lot behind the bar/restaurant for free.

Photos are here.

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