When I moved to Texas from Germany ten years ago I had a very particular idea of what the Lonestar State would be like. In my head, I saw miles and miles of desert, cacti, and tumbleweeds. So so many tumbleweeds. I was so wrong. In reality, the landscapes of Texas vary as much as the people who live here; from the swamps of the east, to the sleepy beach towns on the Gulf, up to Hill Country, and over to west Texas, which honestly is the truest to my original idea of what the state is like.
Driving out to Big Bend was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had since moving to Texas. The region is unlike any other place I’ve been, yet it fit exactly with the picture of Texas I originally had.
Big Bend is one the largest national parks in the United States. At over 800,000 acres, it’s roughly the size of Rhode Island! It’s also one of the least visited national parks, averaging only 300,000 visitors per year. By comparison, Great Smoky Mountains National Park averages 11 million visitors per year, and the Grand Canyon has 5.9 million. In addition to the national park, the Big Bend region has many beautiful and interesting places to stop and visit.
Here’s a little about our trip in photos.
Our first stop along the way was Marfa, a desert oasis for artists and hipsters.
After a day in Marfa, we made our way down to the national park.
I was overjoyed to finally see MOUNTAINS again!
Our first few nights in Big Bend, we camped in the Chisos basin.
We woke up to views like this every day.
We did a sunset hike down to “the Window” (which ended up being my favorite trail of all)
We hiked the Grapevine Hills trail up to the Balanced Rock.
We hiked down to the hot springs on the Rio Grande.
We stopped off to look some amazing fossils and dinosaur bones.
We took some time to enjoy the views from the road.
We crossed the border into Mexico to have a little lunch in Boquillas.
We hiked the Santa Elena Canyon at sunset.
We took a little trip over to the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The views from the road were breathtaking! (In my opinion, they were better than the scenic drive in the national park)
We hiked the Closed Canyon trail.
We explored Terlingua Ghost Town.
And we ended our adventure with a refreshing stay in a tiny house in the middle of the desert.
I enjoyed our little jaunt out to west Texas. Trips like this make me realize more and more how underrated domestic travel is, and how underrated the Big Bend region is! It may be a little far, but I really recommend a visit out there if you ever get the chance!
To read more about Big Bend, you can find my series on the region here.
Happy wanderlusting, friends!