Big Bend National Park in epic photos


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You may think you know Texas, but if you don’t know Big Bend National Park, you’re missing a big piece of what makes the state the unique attraction that it is. Big Bend is one of the Lone Star state’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions, and visiting – especially with a good camera – should be one of the items on your bucket list.

Established in 1944, the park borders Mexico in the western part of the state, along the Rio Grande river. At over 800,000 acres, it’s the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States. That generous space is home to all kinds of terrain, from desert grasslands to montane woodlands and more.

The park’s Chisos Mountains are home to over 1,700 plant species, over 400 bird species, as well as fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other mammals. It also has more species of cacti than the entire state of Arizona, according to the National Park Service.

It sounds great, but it looks even better. So take a look at these epic photos of Big Bend National Park, and if you like what you see, go check it out for yourself — that 800,000 acres of elbow room will give you all the social distancing you can imagine.

Mule Ears at Big Bend National Park
Marcus Evans / iStock

It’s home to some interesting rock formations…

This famous rock formation is known as “Mule Ears.” It’s shown here at sunrise.

Chisos Mountains
LeongKokWeng / iStock

Panoramic views abound

Maxwell scenic drive gives you an amazing view of the Chisos Mountains for many, many miles. NASA has photographed these mountains from space.

Snowy Big Bend
Matthew A. Barrett / iStock

You’ll probably see snow if you go at the right time

It’s Texas, so daytime temperatures frequently soar above 100 degrees, but it’s the high desert, so expect freezing temperatures and even snow during winter months.

Rio Grande river
Wilsilver77 / iStock

The Rio Grande is everywhere

The famous river serves as the southern border to the park and is visible from many vantage points.

Big Bend views
Different_Brian / iStock

You’ll see miles and miles of Texas … and Mexico

There are many areas of Big Bend where visitors can see across the river into Mexico.

Santa Elena Canyon
Wildnerdpix / iStock

It’s home to stunning Santa Elena Canyon

Big Bend isn’t just home to mountains and desert, it’s also home to the Santa Elena Canyon, where you might get a shady reprieve from the sun.

Coyote in Big Bend
Sean Hannon / iStock

Wildlife is abundant throughout the park

This coyote is one of the many different types of animals that call Big Bend home. Just remember, if you see one, it’s not a dog, so be careful.

Black bears Big Bend
46travels / iStock

You may even spot a bear … or two

Cacti in Big Bend
Hans Harms / iStock

Likewise, the plant life is abundant

If you’re a cactus stan, you’ll have plenty to look at and photograph for your collection.

Sage bloom in Big Bend
Tim Speer / iStock

If you’re lucky, you’ll see the dessert in full bloom

Prickly pear cactus and bright purple sage fill the foreground with Chisos Mountains in the background.

Scenic drive Big Bend
LeongKokWeng / iStock

Scenic drives abound

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive en route to Cerro Castellan. You can just make out the moon above the mountain.

Storm clouds over the Chisos Mountains
markphariss / iStock

Summer storm clouds gather over the mountains

Agave Big Bend
Tim Speer / iStock

Blooming agave plants rise from the desert floor

Big Bend Castolon historic district
Wilsilver77 / iStock

Historic buildings are there but rare

There’s little evidence of humans in large parts of Big Bend. These historic structures in the Castolon Historic District are just a few you may come across in your travels.

Cactus wren
kenileed / iStock

Bird life is abundant, especially in the mountains

You’ll see road runners, Mexican blue jays and these adorable cactus wrens, to name just a few.

Hot springs in Big Bend
Cindy_Giovagnoli / iStock

Hot springs

There are hot springs all over the region. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to have one of these beauties all to yourself.

Chisos Mountains
BlueBarronPhoto / iStock

Hiking in the Chisos

The views from the many trails in the Chisos Mountains offer great glimpses of the desert below and the rest of the mountain range.

Horse crossing Rio Grande
PhotoSparks / iStock

The Rio Grande is very narrow in many places

Spend enough time and you’ll see cattle, horses and even wildlife crossing the Rio Grande from Texas into Mexico and vice versa. Life along the river here doesn’t worry about international borders.

Sunset at The Window Big Bend
Tim Speer / iStock

You can’t beat the sunsets …

The Window is a great spot to view the sun setting and have cool beverage at the end of a long day of hiking. You won’t have the view all to yourself, but it’s so beautiful you won’t care.

Sunrise Big Bend
Dean_Fikar / iStock

But the sunrises come close

Juniper Canyon is a great place to catch a sunrise.

Hiker in Big Bend
nickrlake / iStock

You’ll find lots of hiking options

Both in the mountains and across the desert floor, there are hiking trails for almost every level of fitness.

Cat Tail Falls Big Bend
Tim Speer / iStock