Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Cactus in bloom Big Bend National Park. Photo by Lynn Boswell.

Mention National Parks and Texas, and the first thing that comes to mind for most Texans is Big Bend National Park. Big Bend sits on our border with Mexico in the Chisos Mountains of far West Texas. Home to some of the darkest skies in North America, every season is beautiful at Texas’ oldest National Park.

It’s a corner of Texas that’s bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The park has more than 800,000 acres of deep canyons, rugged mountains and dramatic desert vistas. This park is embraced by the Rio Grande River.

“I have never seen a place that changes as much day-to-day, year-to-year,” said David Elkowitz, chief of interpretation at Big Bend National Park. ” You’ll see mountaintops lit up, one at a time, with clouds all around them. You’ll see storms across the open expanses of great landscape here. You’ll see flowers one year, incredible birds the next, great skies the next. It just changes so much.”

Big Bend is the largest and oldest U.S. Park Service site in the state. If you spend time here, it’s hard to imagine that this vast and varied land could be anything but a national park. However, Big Bend is a relative newcomer to the U.S. Park Service. It first opened to visitors in the mid-1940s. By the time Big Bend was established, the first national park — Yellowstone — was already more than 70 years old. Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872.

Learn more about Big Bend National Park