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Big Bend National Park


Data & Facts

Operating Hours

The park is open 24 hours daily, all year. The Panther Junction Visitor Center is open year-round, but may be closed on Christmas Day. The entrance stations and other visitor centers have variable seasons and hours.


Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas, hundreds of miles from the nearest cities and transportation hubs. There is no public transportation to or in Big Bend National Park.

Several highways lead to Big Bend National Park: TX 118 from Alpine to Study Butte or FM 170 from Presidio to Study Butte (then 26 miles east to park headquarters) or US 90 or US 385 to Marathon (then 70 miles south to park headquarters).
Distances between towns and services can be considerable. Always be sure you have plenty of gas, oil, food, and water for your trip. The park has four camper stores, but supply and selection can be limited. There are also small stores in the communities outside the park. The last major shopping areas (grocery and hardware stores) are Alpine, Fort Stockton, and Del Rio.

Access to Mexico

Please check with park staff regarding current border crossing regulations and restrictions.

Visitor Center

Peak season for the park is between October and April - - the winter time.

Panther Junction Visitor Center

The Panther Junction Visitor Center is open daily, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but may be closed on Christmas Day.

Chisos Basin Visitor Center

November-March: Daily 8:00am – 3:30pm. May be closed on Christmas. April-October: Daily 9:00am – 4:30pm.

Following Visitor Center are usually open in the main season between October and April.

Persimmon Gap Visitor Center

October-April: Daily 9:00am – 4:30pm.

Rio Grande Village

October-April: Daily 8:30am – 4:30pm.

Castolon Visitor Center

October-April: Daily 10:00am – 5:00pm.

Entrance fee

Vehicle: $20 for a seven day pass good at any park entrance. Save with the National Park Pass, see more under 'Related Topics'.

Some helpful information

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation to or through the national park. Trains and buses serve Alpine, and airlines serve Midland-Odessa and El Paso. Distances are vast, so plan your arrival and departure conveniently for available facilities.
Water and gasoline are available at few and widely separated points in and near the park. Check your water supply and gas gauge before you leave Alpine or Marathon.


Carry drinking water in your vehicle and when hiking. Hikers require one gallon per person per day. Start your return trip before half your water is gone. Treat spring water before drinking, and do not drink river water.

Publications, road guides, hiking guides, and maps

are sold at the visitor centers at Castolon, Chisos Basin, Panther Junction, Persimmon Gap, and Rio Grande Village. Check at a visitor center for schedules of naturalist programs and activities. The official Big Bend National Park Handbook, a guidebook exploring the park’s history, natural environment, and wildlife, is sold at visitor centers.

Poisonous Reptiles and Insects

A copperhead and four rattlesnake species live here but are rarely seen in daytime. They are protected by law; do not harm them. At night stay on trails and use a flashlight. Snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and other wildlife generally won’t harm you unless you annoy them. Get prompt attention in case of an injury.

Spines and Thorns

Spines and thorns of cacti and other plants are hazardous. Wear sturdy shoes and clothing for off-trail hiking and carry tweezers.

Camping and Fires

Camping is allowed in campgrounds and at designated backcountry sites with a free permit. Building wood or ground fires is prohibited.

Trail Use

Stay on established trails to prevent erosion and slides. Smoking on trails is not allowed. Please carry out all trash.

Swimming and Wading

The Rio Grande is dangerous because of strong currents, submerged snags, and sudden drop-offs. It claims the lives of more swimmers and waders than it does river runners.


Fishing licenses are not required within the park. Park rangers can supply fishing information.


All weapons must be unloaded, broken down, and out of sight.


Pets are allowed on roads, in developed campgrounds, and in primitive roadside campsites. They must be leashed at all times and are prohibited on trails, in the backcountry, and in public buildings.

Feeding Wildlife

Feeding wildlife is prohibited and food needs to be properly stored—check with a ranger.

Accommodatio, Lodging, RV, Camping

See Hotels, Resorts, Camping



GPS Coordinates

1 -- Panther Junction Visitor Center, Big Bend National Park
Decimal Lat: 29.328265 / Lon: -103.205577

2 -- Castalon Visitor Center, Big Bend National Park
Decimal Lat: 29.133907 / Lon: -103.514321

3 -- Chisos Basin Lodge & Visitor Center
Decimal Lat: 29.270509 / Lon: -103.300152

4 -- Rio Grande Village Visitor Center
Decimal Lat: 29.182815 / Lon: -102.961539

5 -- Persimon Gap Visitor Center
Decimal Lat: 29.66005 / Lon: -103.173412


Document Information
Source: National Park Service; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20080901
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