Lovers of wild and rugged landscapes, roughly chiseled mountain ranges and immense river systems need look no further than the Big Bend of Texas for their next vacation. A territory with more than one million acres of public land definitely has sufficient room to accommodate plenty of visitors keen to take advantage of the many things to do and see in this wild and beautiful region. Families love it here because there is always something different to try out, new sights to see and exciting activities that surprise and delight all comers.
Superb outdoor living
Camping is great fun and what better way to get a true taste of the outdoors than to stay at one of the campgrounds in Big Bend National Park. Visitors can go as rough and ready as they wish, back-road campsites are free, although a backcountry permit from Park HQ is required and while they offer superb views they provide only a flat gravel pad. A little more upscale are the developed campgrounds, where a small fee is payable. Some have hookups for RVs, flush toilets and potable water. There are also lodges, motel rooms and 4-star luxury resorts for those who like life’s little comforts. For the best of both worlds and plenty of extra fun, why not try a tepee, complete with real beds and kitchen equipment.
Exploring the terrain
There are so many ways to get around Big Bend and things to do here, that it is possible to try a different outing every day. Hiking is a popular choice for those who like a challenge and enjoy a chance to get some healthy exercise. Trails are well signposted and there are also accompanied tours led by knowledgeable guides who can describe the local history and geology and point out the significant flora and fauna of the region. This is an ideal way to enjoy birding along some routes.
Horseback riding in the backcountry of Big Bend Ranch State Park, as well as in the national park, enables visitors to explore the terrain a little faster than hiking and all the participating stables welcome family groups.
Tours by jeep and ATV are ideal for family groups who want to cover as much ground as possible. Accompanied by a guide, visitors get to see remote sites of archeological interest, such as the strange landscape of Moon Valley, which was formed by volcanic eruptions and the remains of settlements hundreds of years old.
The best mountain biking trails include established, maintained routes, old abandoned mining trails, primitive single and double tracks or complete off road rugged terrain. There are also many other adrenalin pumping activities, such as river running on the Rio Grande; canoes, kayaks and rafts are used, and recommended routes can be geared to suit the comfort zone of the participants.
Big Bend is really remote from major population centers and although driving from one of the bigger Texas cities is possible, it is a long haul and may not get your vacation off to a good start. Perhaps the best way to travel is to take one of the cheap flights to Midland/Odessa, then pick up a rental car at the airport and let the Big Bend adventure begin.