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Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park






Description of Big Bend National Park

Location: Alpine, Brewster County, Texas  Map

Area: 801,163 acres (324,219 ha)

Official site


Big Bend National Park is a national park located in the south of the state of Texas, United States. It is bordering Mexico with the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of the protected area. It extends for about 100 km, with a maximum width of 90 km. More than 95% of the surface is desert or semi-arid, as it is an extension of the deserts of Mexico and New Mexico. In the central part rises a mountainous massif, of uneven relief and formed by naked rocks, the Chisos mountains, whose highest mountain is the Emory peak that reaches an elevation of 2388 above sea level. The vegetation is represented by diverse species of cactus and wild yuccas, and among the fauna we can highlight some endemic species of gambusias (like Gambusia gaigei) that live in small isolated lagoons, located in hollows of the rock. Snakes, desert rats and roadrunners are other frequent animals in the area.




Fees and permits
The entrance fee to Big Bend National Park will get you a seven-day pass, a paper slip which you attach to your vehicle's windshield. The park gates are always open; if you arrive after hours you can get your pass in the morning from the Panther Junction Visitor Center.

Vehicle: $25
Individual (by bicycle, motorcycle, on foot, or group members): $12 (The group member fee applies to all those 16 and older and replaces the vehicle fee — contact the park to determine if your traveling party qualifies as a "group".)
Children (15 and under): Free
Annual Pass: $50 and good for the rest of the month plus one year.
Fees for educational groups (who may be able to get in free) and commercial tours have special rules — contact the park for details.
There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes provide free entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges, and also cover standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. These passes are valid at all national parks including Big Bend National Park:

The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free annual pass in person at a federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can obtain a Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site for $80, or through the mail for $90; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can obtain an Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site at no charge, or through the mail for $10; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
Individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program can receive a free Volunteer Pass.
4th graders can receive an Annual 4th Grade Pass that allows free entry in for the duration of the 4th grade school year (September-August) to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid in a Park website is required.
In 2018 the National Park Service will offer four days on which entry to Big Bend National Park is free for all national parks: January 15 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 21 (1st Day of NPS Week), September 22 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day weekend).

Backcountry permits
Depending on your planned activities, you may need to obtain a backcountry permit. Camping at developed sites and day hiking do not require a permit. Certain types of day-use, such as floating the river or traveling by horse, necessitate a permit but it's free of cost. For any overnight backcountry use, the required permit is $10. There's no reason not to get one; it goes to a good cause (maintaining the backcountry for future visitors) and helps keep you safe. The park will record your itinerary and other information, such as your shoe print — all of which will make you easier to find in case of an emergency — plus they'll give you critical information on current trail and road conditions.

Backcountry permits to Big Bend National Park are good for up to 14 consecutive nights. The permit can be obtained up to 24 hours in advance at any park visitor center during business hours (for the main center at Panther Junction, the hours are 8AM-6PM — other visitor centers have variable hours). If you arrive after business hours, you are not permitted to camp in the backcountry. In addition, they can only be purchased in person, on-site. If you arrive by car, you must have a license plate.





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