When is the Best Time to Visit Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park is an incredible, awe-inspiring park located in the far western part of Texas. The park is an outdoor lover’s paradise. It’s the ideal location for those who love hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking, river rafting, and much more.

The best time of year to visit Big Bend would be during the spring and the fall. The weather during this time is milder, and the park is typically less crowded.

Big Bend is situated at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert and makes up rugged, mountainous terrain. The landscape here is full of deep canyons, sprawling desert stretches, forested mountain ranges, and the mighty Rio Grande River. 

The combination of desert, rivers, and mountains makes this landscape an incredibly diverse area. Furthermore, the park lets visitors experience superb stargazing as the skies here are some of the darkest in the country. 

What’s more, Big Bend is far less visited compared to other national parks. In 2022, the park only saw a little over 516,000 visitors. This proves that Big Bend National Park is the place to be if you want to ditch massive crowds. 

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions often asked about this unique, facinating park in the lone star state. Here, we’ll address the following topics:

  • What are the best months to go to Big Bend National Park?
  • How many days do you need at Big Bend National Park?
  • How many national parks are in Texas?
A river flows through Santa Elena Canyon at Big Bend National Park.
A river flows through Santa Elena Canyon at Big Bend National Park.

What are the best months to go to Big Bend National Park?

The best time to visit Big Bend boils down to the various weather conditions during each season. This part of west Texas is known for unbearably hot summers and frigid winter nights.

Springtime in the park (particularly the month of March) is lovely. The average high during March is around 75°F. Such weather is excellent for hiking the park’s many scenic trails

Remember, though, that for most of March, Spring break is happening for much of the country. As such, many families and tourists flock to the park during this time. Excessive crowds are one of the downsides of visiting in March. 

If you plan on visiting in March, make sure you make reservations for camping or hotel accommodations in advance. It’s not recommended you visit this month if you don’t have advanced reservations. You don’t want to come here without a place to stay!

The month of April is also a great time to visit. However, the weather is slightly warmer, with average highs of about 83°F.

Fall in the park is an excellent time to visit if you want to skip the March crowds. Fall has similar conditions temperature-wise to spring. The month of November is pleasant, with average highs of about 70°F. The fall months, though, do tend to be rainier than the spring. Plan on bringing a good raincoat if you’re visiting during this time! 

Winter is a nice time to visit if you only stay inside the park during the daytime. Camping overnight in the winter here is not a good idea. Nighttime temperatures often approach or go below zero. 

Summers in the park are brutally hot. Average daytime highs in the summer range from the low to mid-90s°F. The desert floor portion of the park usually exceeds 100°F as it’s away from the cooler mountains. 

Don’t worry though if you can only visit in the summertime. You could still enjoy some scenic drives throughout the park from the comfort of your car’s AC. 

If you decide to venture out of your car for short hikes, ensure you bring the essentials. Never go hiking in the summer here without lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen. 

When visiting the park in the summer, take steps to beat the heat. Show up early to get some hiking in. You’ll want to finish before the scorching sun is in full force. Finishing your hiking early will allow you some time in the afternoon to tour the park in your vehicle. This way, you’ll avoid the blazing afternoon sun. 

A rainbow forms over the mountains at Big Bend after a thunderstorm. NPS photo
A rainbow forms over the mountains at Big Bend after a thunderstorm. NPS photo

How many days do you need at Big Bend National Park? 

Ideally, you want to spend at least three days exploring Big Bend National Park. Big Bend is one of the nation’s larger national parks and, as such, has much to offer. In fact, it’s so packed with sights to see you could undoubtedly spend a few weeks here!

You could definitely ride through some of the park’s best scenic routes when taking a day trip. Driving the scenic roads gives you a general rundown of Big Bend if you’re crunched for time. A perfect one-day itinerary at the park may include a ride along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and a visit to the Chisos Basin.

If you really want to get a full grasp of the park, plan on spending three days here. There are three main sections of the park. They include Chisos Basin, Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive region (Santa Elena Canyon), and Rio Grande Village. 

Three days would allow you to drive and hike through all of these major sections. A great idea would be to spend one day at each!

The road along the thirty-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive winds through the mountain ranges. NPS photo
The road along the thirty-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive winds through the mountain ranges. NPS photo

How many national parks are in Texas? 

There are two official national parks in the state of Texas. These include Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is also located in western Texas. It’s about 4 hours northwest of Big Bend near the New Mexico border. 

This park is full of rugged canyons, towering mountains, vast stretches of deserts and dunes, and starry night skies that let you peer into the Milky Way Galaxy. 

Guadalupe Mountains National Park preserves the world’s largest Permian fossil reef. It’s also home to various desert plant and animal species, plus the four tallest peaks in Texas. 

Sunset on El Capitan Trail - Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Sunset on El Capitan Trail – Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Final Thoughts

So to wrap it all up, Big Bend is an exceptional national park with no shortage of outdoor activities. However, these activities are best enjoyed during specific times of the year. 

If you want to enjoy some of Big Bend’s outstanding hiking trails and river rafting trips, plan on visiting in the spring or fall. The weather during these months is far more pleasant and suitable for outdoor adventures. 

March, in particular, seems to have the ideal weather conditions, with highs averaging at 75°F. However, the park is exceedingly busy this month, and crowds are guaranteed. 

Fall, while rainier than spring, also has enjoyable temperatures. November, in particular, tends to be nice and mild. 

Wintertime in the park also has pleasant daytime temperatures and sees far fewer crowds. Nighttime temperatures, though, get tremendously cold. It’s not recommended to camp here during the winter. 

Visiting Big Bend in the summertime is arguably the worst time to visit. Temperatures in the park get so hot that you won’t want to do many outdoor activities. The best use of your time if visiting in the summer would be to drive through some of the park’s scenic routes. 

With good planning, a fulfilling day trip to Big Bend is doable. But spending at least three days here is excellent since the park has so much to see and do. 

Big Bend National Park is truly a place of wonder not to be missed. Plan your trip to this magnificent national park today!

Want a FREE complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!

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About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

Let us know what you think about our content and if you have any questions, suggestions, or have any favorite memories or tips you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!

Happy Travels! Sandy

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