TRAVEL GUIDE: BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Updated: Jan 2

You never know how much one little 3-day trip will change your life. Sometimes you plan on a destination going in blindly, but you leave with a full heart, a recharged soul, and lots of great memories... and that was exactly how I felt coming back home from our trip to Big Bend. It was such a magical experience and since I think everyone should have experiences like that in their life, I wanted to do a travel diaries round up for you all! If it isn't already, Big Bend should definitely be added to your bucket list ASAP!





Where We Stayed

Since this beautiful place is out in the middle of nowhere, don't expect many places to stay. In fact, there is only one lodging area in the middle of the park called Chisos Mountain Lodge, which is where we stayed! Other than that, if you don't have an RV, camping is your only other option.

One of my favorite things about the lodge we stayed in was the views! They were to die for and I miss waking up to those views. You can see about 5 different mountains that surround the lodges and every direction you look, there is a treat for your eyes that takes your breath away! The staff was also very friendly and made us feel so welcomed! From check-in to check-out, they were happy to help with anything we needed and even helped us plan out our days and let us know what was worth seeing in the short amount of time we had.

What also surprised me is that they had their own little convenient store (filled with food, hiking equipment, and everything you could possibly need), a visitors center, and even a gift shop with an attached restaurant. Also, a very important note that I think everyone should be aware of is that your phone service is very LIMITED out there! Makes sense since it's out in the middle of no man's land, but good news is that they offer free wifi at the little gift shop! However, while you're out hiking or doing any traveling, make sure you have some good tunes downloaded because you won't be receiving any texts and definitly won't be able to scroll through Instagram. Although, if you're going to Big Bend, it's nice to think of it as a place to unplug and enjoy some nature and peace! You also don't have a TV in your room, but I actually kind of liked that! For us, we packed board games and played some tunes and had a great time together!

Where we stayed also offered the GREATEST views of the night sky! I seriously haven't seen so many stars in my life and we also saw the Milky Way! For me, this was one of the highlights of the trip. When you live in a busy city or close to one, you hardly get to see all that the night sky has to offer, but with where we were at... it was the greatest ending to our days!

Although we packed our own food for the weekend (tip- make sure to go grocery shopping before you leave on your trip), we still wanted to try out the little restaurant they had there. The first thing I noticed was that there are amazing views from where we were eating! You have a perfect view of "the window" (more about this later) and all of the other mountains! Dinner + a view... needless to say, my adventurous heart was so happy! As for the food, I will admit it wasn't exactly my favorite. Since they are out in the middle of nowhere, I'm sure a lot of their food is frozen and not too "fresh," and I definitly got that vibe while we were eating. However, it was still pretty good for what we had to work with!




Our patio view from Chisos Mountain Lodge


What We Did

Along from sightseeing and soaking in all of the beauty that surrounds you, the main (and really only thing) to do in Big Bend is to go hiking! Big Bend is huge... I mean miiiiles of land and mountains, so with our 3-day trip, we weren't able to do everything. You would need a good week to soak in everything the park has to offer. However, we got in our fair share of hikes and adventures and did all that we could in our short time there!

Our first stop was at the Lost Mines Trail, which is pretty close to Chisos Mountain Lodge. We had a few hours to spare before our room was ready for us, so we changed into our hiking clothes and decided to go for it! We didn't complete the full trail, but we did about a mile or so and it was really fun! Since this trail is on a cliff, the views were AMAZING! There is one corner that you come up on and it seriously felt like a scene from Jurassic Park with all of the mountains and the deep valley. It took my breath away!



View from "Lost Mines Trail"

After we got checked into our room, we decided to go on another hike and checked out The Window View trail. It was the closest one to us and was also the shortest, but it had another view that is so stunning! Remember when I mentioned "The Window" earlier? Well, The Window is an opening between two mountains and offers an amazing scene! At the end of this trail, there is the PERFECT view of The Window and I couldn't take my eye off of it! I seriously didn't want to leave, so we actually ended up going back the next day after dinner (my heart was so happy).



"The Window"

Our second day there, we woke up and headed on our way towards Santa Elena Canyon Trail, which was about an hour drive away (I told ya, there are miles and miles of land and trails)! We had heard that this trail was in one of the most scenic areas in the park, so we had to go check it out! The drive there was sooo amazing, y'all! Some of the prettiest views I have ever seen! We decided to turn up our music, roll down the windows, and have the best hour car ride we have ever had! Seriously, it was another highlight of mine and something I will never forget the feeling of. My tips for this trip is to make sure you go to the restroom beforehand, have all that you need for a spare tire, and a packed lunch and/or snack! Once we got to the trail, we had a little surprise waiting for us... one that we didn't see coming! Little did we know, but we had to cross a river in order to get to the trail... there's no way around it, it was the only way to get to where we were going! I will admit, I hesitated at first, but after a few minutes I told myself "this is an experience you'll never forget, so get dirty and go for it!" So, we took off our shoes (our only pair mind you) and crossed that river! It was a mud bottom, so it was quite slippery (warning- you'll need a partner to help balance yourself) but it was also so fun! When we finally got across the river and to the trail, we had mud ALL OVER our feet and legs, and since we weren't really prepared and only had one pair of shoes, we had no other choice than to embark on the hike barefoot. Yeah, you read that right! Barefoot... on a trail with rocks and in the sunlight (there's hardly any shade on this trail FYI). We only hiked about half of it and turned around because we just hadn't prepared all too well, but we still got to see some amazing views and we made some memories we will both never forget about and will always laugh about, so it's a win in our book!



Santa Elena Canyon Trail


For our next adventure, we decided to head back to Chisos Mountain Lodge and go on a trail around there (there is so many around the lodges). We chose to go on the The Window Trail, which is a trail that lead you in a valley and straight towards The Window. However, our little adventure got cut short again because as we were going down the trail, a couple that was going back up told us there was a black bear sighting (yikes)! By the way, there are signs EVERYWHERE warning you about bear and mountain lion encounters. I was scared at first (I mean.. lions and tiger and bears, oh my.. right?), but the signs give you detailed information on what to do if you run into one of these animals. We didn't want to chance it so we decided to turn around. One thing I will mention about this trail is that it is easy going down, but going back up is a very different story! Our legs were on FIRE once we got back up and as I'm typing this blog post, my legs have been sore for three days straight! However, I know that if we had made it to the end, it would've been so worth it (the pictures we saw are gorgeous).





Our Final Thoughts

If you ever have the chance to visit this place, do it! It's an experience unlike any other! You'll be surrounded by some of the most amazing views, make memories that you'll never forget, and leave with a recharged heart and soul! We already miss it dearly and I'm hoping we can take another trip sometime next year. If you have any other questions or need suggestions about what to bring, where to go, or who to talk to, let me know in the comments and I will be happy to help you out!



Happy Adventures Everyone,


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