A few weeks ago I took a week long West Texas road trip with some girlfriends. I started with a night in Austin & then we went to Big Bend area for two nights before heading to Marfa for two nights. It was such a wonderful trip & I can’t wait to go back with the hubs, soon. It is so beautiful, serene, & peaceful. I loved the scenery & the slower pace! Today, I’m sharing my Big Bend travel guide with you all with all of my recommendations when visiting this beautiful part of Texas.
Big Bend Travel Guide
I’m including my Big Bend travel guide for you all below. I’ve got more info on why it’s a great place to visit, how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, what to do, & some travel tips based on our experience.
Big Bend is absolutely stunning. It’s one of the largest, most remote, & one of the least-visited national parks in the US. There are tons of great hiking & backpacking trails in the park & it has amazing stargazing. It actually has the darkest skies in the US! Big Bend is such a relaxing, beautiful destination that is extremely underrated.
Unless you have a private plane, you’ll be driving to get to Big Bend. Even if you fly to a close-ish airport (Midland/Odessa or El Paso), you’ll have to drive a few hours from there. It’s a road trip destination & having a car to get around to the small towns & into the park is necessary. We drove all the way from Dallas (after stopping in Austin for a night) & it is a very long drive. I’ll definitely fly closer to & then drive in the next time I visit.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Willow House in Terlingua & I cannot recommend this spot enough. From the land to the casitas to the main house– everything was gorgeous & incredible. I absolutely will be coming back here to stay! Staying here was one of the main reasons Big Bend made it onto my West Texas road trip itinerary (along with Marfa) & it was just as incredible as I thought it would be.
If you can’t find yourself able to stay at Willow House, also check out The Local Chapter. It’s a few adorable yurts on some beautiful land really close to one of the park entrances. Lajitas Resort just a little bit further from the park is another great option!
Where to Eat
There are a few places to eat in Terlingua or in some of the next towns over like Lajitas. However, I think next time I visit I’ll be bringing food along & cooking at Willow House most of our meals. The food was all fine, but nothing to necessarily say you absolutely can’t miss! My Big Bend travel guide recs on where to eat are below.
- Starlight Theatre: The most popular dinner spot in town. The wait was over 2 hours most nights! Go early & grab a drink while you wait or get it to go. The food is typical Texas-fare & they typically have live music.
- Lajitas Resort: We went here for lunch one day. It’s a beautiful resort & the food + atmosphere was good, too. They have live music in The Thirsty Goat restaurant on the weekends.
- Chili Pepper Cafe: A little hole-in-the-wall sort of Tex-Mex restaurant. Super casual, but they had greasy (in a good way) style favs.
- La Posada Milagro Coffee: a little coffee shop in the heart of town that has breakfast, too.
- La Kiva: they were closed when we were in town, but they are known for good pizza & strong drinks.
- High Sierra Bar & Grill: a great lunch option in town.
What to Do
There isn’t a ton to see & do outside of outdoor activities, but that is sort of the point. You’re on a road trip here to enjoy the nature & slower pace. Embrace it! Below are my Big Bend travel guide recs on what to do.
- Build a fire at Willow House if you are staying there. Enjoying a sunset & some s’mores is the perfect activity!
- Hiking: This is probably the most popular thing to do in Big Bend National Park. There are tons of trails & paths for any level of hiker.
- Lajitas Resort: I highly recommend coming here for lunch, dinner, or both. It’s like it’s own little town! You can play golf & there are some cute shops, an ice cream store, & more. They have live music on the weekends, too. There was also an Equestrian Center nearby where you can ride horses.
- Santa Elena Canyon: Some say that a trip to Big Bend wasted if you miss this. It is a sight to see from far away, but also offers a trail inside the edge stunning canyon. You can walk or swim across Terlingua Creek to begin the trail.
- Sotol Vista Overlook: If hiking isn’t your thing, but you still want to see the views inside Big Bend, this is about a 30 minute drive from Willow House & is a beautiful stop.
- Gage Hotel: This is in Marathon, which is a bit of a drive from Terlingua. We stopped here & the Tiny Target below on the way from Willow House to Marfa, but it’s a cool, historic hotel with a lot of history. It would be a cool place to stay a night! They have a cool bar & a pool.
- Tiny Target: This is in Alpine, which is between Marathon & Marfa. It’s a little parody to the Prada Marfa installation & is so cute. Definitely worth a stop for a cute little photo opp.
- Boquillas Hot Springs: a fun way rest after a day of hiking. This 105°F natural hot springs exists on the bank of the Rio Grande on the eastern side of the park. Across the river is a view of Mexico!
- Bird Watching: There are over 450 different species of birds in Big Bend National Park – more than any other national park in the U.S. Thus, Big Bend is one of the top destinations for bird watchers in America.
- If you’re staying in Big Bend & don’t plan to make Marfa it’s own trip, be sure to at least stop through to see the Prada installation & spend a day. Check out my Marfa travel guide for all of my recs!
- Shop at Terlingua Trading Company. This is a big gift shop next to the Starlight Theatre!
- Chisos Mountains: the heart of Big Bend. Chisos supposedly means enchantment, which is a perfect way to describe them.
- The elevation here is pretty high, so be sure to stay hydrated! We had a ton of water on hand. Liquid IV is great to bring along as a hydration multiplier! It will sneak up on you.
- You’ll also definitely experience the dry desert air out here, so pack beauty products accordingly (this moisturizer & this mask came along with me & were so helpful).
- Most restaurants close very early, so plan accordingly!
- You end up without service a lot here, be sure to have where you are going in your maps or directions ready to access without service. Also, gas stations are limited so fill up when you see one!
I hope this was helpful when planning your trip to Big Bend! It is so beautiful & I can’t wait to go back. Don’t forget to check out my Marfa Travel Guide for all of my recs for there + more recommendations in West Texas. XO