48 Hours in Massive Bend Nationwide Park – What to Do and See


Welcome to Massive Bend Nationwide Park. An explosion of shade on the Rio Grande in the course of nowhere West Texas.

In the event you didn’t suppose Texas had sweeping mountains, dramatic peaks, and limitless mountain views, put together to be wowed. That is methods to finest spend 48 hours in Massive Bend Nationwide Park, Texas.

Dom Rock

In a park as giant as Massive Bend, overlaying over 150 miles, in the event you’ve solely acquired a few days, you’re going to must make some robust selections. I really started within the Massive Bend State Park, which is correct subsequent door, with top-of-the-line Rio Grande river views you will discover for the sundown.

This space is called huge hill, or in the event you test on Google Maps, it’s referred to as Dom Rock, named after a bottle of hidden Dom Perignon from the film Fandango

Remember to get there round 45 minutes earlier than the solar really units, as a result of it goes down these canyon partitions rapidly. From right here you’ll be looking on the view straddling Texas and Mexico, partitioned by the meandering river. Entry this one about 12 miles down scenic freeway 170 previous the city of Lajitas. 

Misplaced Mine Path

The following morning for dawn, in the event you’re up for an early get up, which I extremely advocate, the Misplaced Mine path supplies beautiful views. You solely have to hike in a couple of mile in on the path to observe because the rising solar paints the rocks purple after which gold, sweeping out to the valley within the distance. 

It is a pretty straightforward hike, and it’s finest to get there early, because the small car parking zone fills up rapidly.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

The Sotol Vista Overlook

The Ross Maxwell Scenic drive would require turning again in direction of the park entrance (however not too far) for top-of-the-line drives in the entire park. Plus, it ends at one of many park’s most well-known options – the Santa Elena Canyon.

There are many stops all alongside the way in which with facet hikes and overlooks, just like the Sotol Vista pictured above, so give your self loads of time for this one. Non-obligatory facet hikes embody:

  • Decrease Burro Mesa Path – A simple, 30 minute hike with beautiful canyon views and probabilities to see spring wildflowers.
  • Chimneys Path – One other brief and flat hike, although if deciding between Decrease Burro and this one, decide the Decrease Burro.
  • Mule Ears Springs Path – Pretty views of some distinctive rock formations and a fantastic spot for night time images.
  • Tuff Canyon Overlook – This fast roadside cease seems to be down right into a white canyon. It’s one other fast, straightforward hike into the canyon in the event you’re eager.
  • Dorgan Home Path – Take a look at some outdated buildings and ruins on this roadside pulloff.
  • Santa Elena Canyon Overlook – A fast cease in your manner right down to hike or kayak the Canyon.

Santa Elena Canyon

In all probability essentially the most photographed and well-known characteristic of Massive Bend, the Santa Elena Canyon presents an opportunity to play in, kayak on, hike by way of, or hike beside the Rio Grande. Benefit from the coolness of the canyon whereas being in two locations directly – cut up between Texas and Mexico.

Relying on how excessive the water is, you will have to get your ft moist to cross the Rio Grande as a way to entry the path. Because of this, I’d advocate footwear that do effectively in water. I additionally observed individuals who introduced kayaks to kayak down the river and must admit I used to be jealous.

Nonetheless, the view from alongside the path is gorgeous, and in the event you make it there for dawn, you’ll be able to catch an ideal glimpse of the rising solar over the river from a pair switchbacks up at the start of the path, simply after crossing the river. It’s a brief, straightforward path with a little bit of elevation loss and acquire that finishes at a pleasant view wanting additional into the canyon.

Sundown on the Home windows

The opposite hottest factor to do within the park is catching sundown on the Home windows. It is a customer favourite due to the simple accessibility and the spectacular solar setting proper between this distinctive rock formation. For some additional train, hike a 5 mile path to get nearer to the home windows, or you’ll be able to have a look at them from the paved, straightforward loop accessible from the Chisos Basin Customer Heart parking space.

That stated, what you see pictured above is a special view. I knew that the nearly-full moon could be rising on the opposite facet of the home windows, so I selected to observe the sundown/moonrise from the west round mile marker 2 on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This specific photograph was taken down a mud street nearer to mile 3, offering extra of a facet profile of 1 facet of the Home windows.

Though I significantly thought-about watching the sundown by way of the Home windows, I additionally needed to see what it might be like watching the solar paint the mountains purple with that well-timed moon rise. It meant barely much less driving after having fun with the Santa Elena Canyon as effectively!

That is additionally an choice if you wish to watch the dawn by way of the Home windows.

Grapevine Hills and Balanced Rock

For my second dawn, I made my manner out to the Grapevine Hills and Balanced Rock Path. That is one other straightforward, comparatively flat path with wonderful views on the finish, significantly for the dawn. Although most individuals come right here to see the balanced rock, I used to be extra keen on the Grapevine Hills view on the prime of the path.

as a way to entry this space, you’ll want to show down a mud street nearly adjoining to basin junction. If it has just lately rained I might think about this street being impassible. Even with dry circumstances, the start of the street was no drawback, however then it began to get slightly bit washboardy and for my rental car, a bit too dangerous for the final half mile. Fortunately there was a pleasant little spot I might simply pull off and park, making it a simple hike in. It added a little bit of time to my hike, however the stroll out on the street again to the automotive was good as effectively!

You’ve acquired about an hour earlier than the dawn will illuminate the rock formations on this canyon, so that you catch just a few additional Zs than you may if climbing the Misplaced Mine path for dawn, by comparability.

South Rim and Emory Peak

The South Rim view by Davey Nin used underneath Inventive Commons

By far the longest and most difficult suggestion on this record, the south rim hike supplies the most important reward by way of attractive views. This hike is about 12 miles round-trip, and also you’ll have the choice so as to add on Emory Peak as effectively. In the event you select to do that as a day hike, take into account this isn’t acceptable for {the summertime}, and also you’ll need to go away proper at dawn so as to have the ability to full the entire thing, so that you may need to select this one as an alternative of the Balanced Rock Path in the event you solely have 48 hours.

I used to be dying to do that hike, and underneath regular circumstances would have, however I had a protracted drive forward of me and simply barely didn’t have sufficient time to do it justice. That stated, if I had been to return, I’d acquire a backcountry allow and switch this into an in a single day hike, as there are just a few established backcountry campsites alongside the rim. The very best case situation for me could be the chance to observe the sundown, stargaze, and catch the dawn taking a look at this unbelievable view.

Stargazing Options

Among the best issues about being in such a distant location is the chance to see the night time sky in her full glory. The very best time to see the well-known Milky Method core is from mid-March till mid-October, however anytime all year long is a superb time to have a look at the night time sky.

Though I used to be there throughout a full moon, which presents its personal distinctive images alternatives, moonlight will significantly inhibit your capacity to see the celebs, so just be sure you go throughout a brand new moon if you’re going particularly to stargaze. I discover Moon Big to be very useful for planning functions. Further factors in the event you go to throughout a brand new moon and a meteor bathe!

Close by – Eat and Lay Your Head

A part of the enjoyable visiting Massive Bend Nationwide Park is hanging out within the cities close by as effectively. They’ve a lot character and character!

Terlingua is the closest city to the park and your finest wager for scrumptious eats. The preferred native spot for dinner is the Starlight Theater within the Terlingua ghost city. Individuals have a tendency to hang around for an hour or so earlier than it opens, ingesting beers from the close by present store and enjoying music on the picket deck. Put together to attend a bit so as to have the ability to eat right here because it’s standard, however from what I hear it’s value it!

There’s an outdated cemetery close by additionally value testing for a peek into the city mining historical past.

For breakfast, try La Posada Milagro close by for espresso and breakfast burritos.


In the event you’re planning on spending the vast majority of your time in huge Bend nationwide Park itself, essentially the most handy choice are campground reservations within the park, though they have a tendency to ebook out fairly far prematurely through the cooler months. There are additionally some choices in Terlingua.

I personally stayed on the Lajitas Golf Resort in Lajitas, which is conveniently positioned proper subsequent to Massive Bend State Park. They’ve a number of eating places on website, together with a golf course, zip lining, and different actions. It is a nice household selection and an choice for individuals who need extra selection than simply hikes within the park.

When you have extra time, the most effective case situation could be to remain throughout the park to discover the nationwide park, and on the Latijas Golf Resort to discover the state park.

On Your Method

Since Massive Bend Nationwide Park is in the course of nowhere, you’ll have a protracted drive no matter the place you’re coming from. Most individuals fly into El Paso. On the way in which, I extremely advocate stopping in Fort Davis to interrupt up the 5-hour drive.

The Davis Mountains State Park presents attractive views of the encompassing space and is a superb place to catch the sundown. Drive to the top of the Skyline Drive for the most effective views.

Afterwards, I extremely advocate going to the McDonald Observatory for one among their star events (calendar right here). This offers you a chance to look by way of their telescopes at stars and constellations. That is one other time when it might be prudent to take the moon phases into consideration, as darkish skies make for a significantly better stargazing.

Whereas in Fort Davis, I stayed on the Stone Village Vacationer camp and ate breakfast on the Stone Village Market and beloved the pleasant ambiance. In the event you’re a espresso lover, they promote scrumptious native, free commerce, natural espresso within the store!

Seasonal Issues

Massive Bend can get scorching in the summertime, with temperatures often topping 90°F. Summer time can also be the monsoon season, when flash flooding and rain are extra widespread. Within the winter, put together for near freezing temperatures, particularly in a single day.

Round March, chances are you’ll get fortunate sufficient to see some wildflowers within the park, together with cactus flowers! That stated, needless to say that is round spring break, which might be one of the vital standard instances to go to. I went in early February and was delighted by how uncrowded it was!

No matter once you go, Massive Bend presents a singular alternative for darkish skies, attractive hikes, and exquisite solitude.

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*This publish was delivered to you in collaboration with Journey Texas. All ideas on the fantastic thing about Massive Bend are my very own.

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