Be lulled to sleep to the gentle rustle of cottonwood trees. I tent sleep so I like a place where you can set up a tent without having a ton of rocks. They irrigate the camp so it is muddy at times and when that rare rain storm comes up the camp will flood. If you leave food out you will be visited by skunks, javelinas, raccoons and bears. During the summer it will be brutally hot during the day, but i have had the entire campground to myself for up to a week. Late summer this is one of the penultimate places on the planet to photograph the Milky Way. Since you are near to Santa Elena canyon you can drive up and get the iconic picture of the Milky Way stretched across it.
We stayed at Chisos in early March and loved it! March is apparently the busiest month in Big Bend NP so we made sure to get to the campground first thing in the morning to get a site— all the reservable sites were LONG gone by the time we planned our trip! There were a couple to pick from when we got there and more opened up over the course of the morning, though all 3 campgrounds in Big Bend were full every night we were there. The site we got was PERFECT! It was on the edge of the camp ground and tucked around a corner. Some of the other sites did look a little close to each other which was why I gave 4 stars and not 5. Most (if not all??) of the sites had a little their own picnic table, bear/javelina-safe food storage and a little canopy-like shelter for some shade.
The host was very nice and helpful when we arrived and the campground was very quiet.
Bathroom facilities were pretty standard— not super nice/fancy but had the essentials!
It was chilly in the mornings and at night without the sun to warm you up— long pants and a light jacket were perfect. It warmed up to shorts and T-shirt/tank top weather in the afternoons with the sun.
The lodge and campground are right in the basin of the mountains so you have 360° mountain views! The sunrise and sunset on the mountains was especially pretty!
Chisos was a great spot as it was close to a lot of hikes and central so we could adventure in both the western and eastern parts of the park with Chisos as our home base— so perfect! Many of the trail heads were at the Chisos Lodge (right up the road from the campground) and one of the trails actually had an entrance at the campground —very convenient.
Wildlife: we didn’t see too much!! A bunch of Mexican Jays, bunnies and hares, a coyote and a fox was about it!
Hikes: South Rim trail —our “long hike” —about 12 miles (trail head at the lodge)— it was AMAZING!! Definitely would recommend if you’re looking for a longer hike with rewarding views… definitely worth it. Even though it was spring break season and very busy in the park we didn’t see too many people on this trail and only saw other people every now and then.
Window View trail — “our short mountain hike” —5 and some change miles round-trip out and back. Trail head in the Lodge parking lot but also has a trail head in the campground!! (Just cuts off some milage!) Easier hike to a SUPER cool view through a “window” -like chasm where a waterfall flows when it’s rainier. The last mile or so felt a little steeper on the way back once we were more tired. We brought lunch with us and stopped along the way. This was a perfect hike to pair with another mid distance one in the afternoon.
Chimneys Trail — our “desert hike” this was a 4.8-mile round-trip out and back. The trail head is on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and is flat flat flat desert hiking— this was a new type of hiking for us and it was so neat because you can see SO far in the distance as you walk. The end of the trail is the “chimneys” which you can see in the distance when you start the hike. The trail leads right up to them so you can walk part way up one and walk around it looking at the old markings left behind! Super cool. We did this trail in the later afternoon so we were walking back as the sun started to set— very pretty!
We also drove to both the Rio Grande Village Campground and did the short nature trail there around sunset (best time to go I’d say!) and the Cottonwood Campground just to check them out.
We camped here for 3 nights and only 1 or 2 others were there. Probably due to the 105° heat of the day. Lol We knew it would be this way going in. Flush toilets were clean and water, although warm, was abundant in the bathrooms and outdoor facets. Lots of birds, including vultures were singing in the trees and Javelinas made daily visits. Most sites had sufficient shade, a level spot for tents, and tables. The nearby store has basic necessities and gasoline at reasonable prices. Laundry and showers available for $2.00 or less, each.
Big Bend is a really unique place. The scale is amazing. The scenery can be breathtaking. So we had high hopes for our backcountry camping experience. We drove a very long way only to find that our campsite was 30 feet from the other campsite. What on earth is the point of packing people in together? Why not honor people's desire for a bit of privacy and quiet? It was really disappointing, and seemed unnecessary.
Other than that, we enjoyed a herd of wild pigs visit us during the night!
Rio Grande Village Campground is located within Big Bend National Park. This park is HUGE and we were thankful to have a spot to camp for a few days.
We saw unique wildlife while we were here - Javelina, donkey, otter, etc. The otter lived in the pond, which was in walking distance. We walked down to the Rio Grande and sat with a foot in the hot spring and a foot in the river, which was awesome! (Hot Springs Trail)
We also walked down to a canyon - Boquillas Canyon - we ran into people who cross the river to sell items they make daily.
Nothing could prepare us for the stars here though! Being so far from civilization, the stars were phenomenal - which left us wishing we had packed a telescope. We did however pack a spot light to see animals at night - but we learned rather quickly from a ranger that they were not allowed!! Apparently people use spot lights to capture wildlife - so after a brief car search - we were allowed to leave - and that was the end of the spot light!
There are various places to camp along the highway. Some may be accessible to RVs but I understand the road becomes very steep in spots. (We went about halfway.) Campgrounds are all primitive but there are some nice locations. Some have primitive toilets. We did not go into the “center” of the park since we wanted to stay on better roads. Overall, the area is beautiful in the winter.
The is a Big Bend National National Park Campsite. The Camp is adjacent to the Rio Grande River and a popular camping spot for can expeditions. The site is sometimes an overflow from Chisos Basin Campers during busy season. The sites are in a grass meadow in one large loop. During the off-season this campground is usually close to empty. The major advantage is river access and proximity to the Santa Elena Canyon. They have basic restrooms, fire pits, and tables. If you are traveling along the Rio Grande this is a great option. You don’t get the scenic vistas from this site due to its low lying elevation.
Plenty of campsites here in the Rio Grande Village. Easiest way to pay is with cash, and you just reserve your campsite at the self-pay station. We payed with a card at the Rio Grande visitor's center (closed in the summers). If you don't mind other people being close to you, this is the campsite for you. My boyfriend and I camped here for one of the nights we stayed in Big Bend. We wanted a more secluded spot which you can find further back in areas of campsites available, but it's first come, first serve style here. Bear boxes are provided at each campsite. The campsites further back have better shade, but we were able to find some trees to set up under. The only thing we didn't like about the campsite was the proximity to people using generators. They have a separate area for RVs, but some people brought their campers. The generators were somewhat loud, but we were able to sleep through the noise. We definitely prefer more natural campsites, but this one was fine for what we needed that night. Not too far of a drive from the Hot Springs trail either.
OK the campground is a parking lot and I mean a parking lot. Each spot is 2 parking spots. It is all asphalt. No Cell Phone, No Internet, no TV nothing. But was the best place we have been to. If you want full hook ups for camping it is the only one in Big Bend National Park. they only have 25 sites all back in. Pay for showers if you don't have your own. But catch the sunrise and sunsets. Hike to Boquillas Canyon, the hot springs down the river or all over Rio Grande Village. Drive to all of Big Bend and spend days hiking Mountains, Deserts, River, Canyons. The most beautiful area in the World at least to me.
We travel with a kayak so we were fortunate we didn't have to rent one. However, there are lots of rules and extra things you have to carry with you to do this trip. Like - extra life jacket, paddle, waste system and a fire pan. You can rent from the outfitters in town if necessary. We initially wanted to do the point to point trip, but the water level wasn't cooperating so we did a boomerang trip. We kayaked upstream into the canyon, spent the night and came out the next day. It was incredible! We had the canyon to ourselves and loved every minute. If you can manage to do this, definitely do!!
We spent a night here. You will need something other than a normal car to get here. We were in a Jeep and had no issues. It is about an hour to get to this campsite from Dagger Flat and 2 hours from Rio Grande Village on Old Ore Road. We had a great time looking at the stars and being completely alone. There is a bear box, but no water and no fires are allowed. You have to get a permit to backcountry camp in Big Bend and you can do that the day before at the earliest. You can get permits in Chisos and Panther Junction. I highly recommend this spot. It was awesome!
This campground was very secluded when I visited, there were two others sites taken during my visit. The area was very quiet and we had fun watching the collared pecaries foraging through the sites. We saw multiple bird species and it was a very easy walk to the Rio Grande.
This is a large campground with multiple types of spots, with access for even some of the largest rvs and tow behinds. This is a popular place for families, so if you are looking for something quieter or more secluded with less human activity, this is not for you. There is a nice nature path that leads to a cliff overlooking the Rio Grande, but it would not be good for very small children our people with unsure footing. There were many different birds in the area tho, due to water access.
Basic national park camground. Located close the boquillas canyon, the legendary hot springs and so much more. The park itself is beautiful, and the campground is not exception. Located right on the bank of the river, the campground is an oasis from the desert you spend all day driving through to get there.
This simple campsite was a great find during the crowded superbloom season in Big Bend.
Solar powered showers and flushable restrooms were very clean and the owners could not have been nicer. Spacious group sites, quiet hours enforced, and off the beaten path enough to enjoy the skies, but close enough to get things you may need.
Reservations by phone only, but the website is helpful with all questions.
Rio Grande Village Campground was awesome. They have bathrooms with showers, running water, flushable toilets. They also have potable water all around the campsite. Rio Grande Village Nature Trail is close by and its a short but sweet hike. Sunsets on that trial over the Rio Grande is amazing. Wildlife is abundant. All kinds of animals and birds. Beavers, cranes, horses in the horizon was very welcomed. You can see Mexico and Boquillas village from the top of a cliff off the Nature trail. So bring your camera! I really had a good time. The campground was well maintained and it can get a bit crowded but it’s all good. A Hot springs is near by and the Rio Grande Village store is very convenient and cheap. They even have wi-fi if for some reason you need to check your email or facebook. Overall great experience!
We did some back country camping at Big Bend National Park. You will need an SUV or 4x4 for some spots, I did see some cars but they were struggling. We have a Jeep and had to help several people out. Pro tip: show up to get your permit early as it’s in a first come first serve basis. Scout out some sites so you have back up spots if the one you want is taken. We camped at Solis as it was the only one available. It was nicely laid out and super peaceful! After doing some driving around there are some other camps I would have rather had and will try to get them next time. Ours had a beautiful view of the mountains but would have like to been higher up. No complaints.
Tin Valley is a beautiful and serene desert retreat situated in a valley, surrounded by small mountain ranges such as the Western Corrazones and Sombrero Peak. The night skies are bright and breathtaking when the weather is clear; we were lucky enough to see the Milky Way and the Leonid meteor shower during our stay. There are several sites at Tin Valley - some A frame platforms, some stationary trailers, some cars and buses that have been converted to camping trailers. There are also some stationary RVs available to rent that have running water, electricity, and a bath house. These latter RV rentals are more expensive than the more primitive sites. We booked our stay through Airbnb.
Our camper was an old trailer that had been gutted/renovated and was outfitted with sleeping bags, extra blankets, two cots, and a propane heater (no gas provided). It was a good windbreak on the colder, chillier nights. There were some solar-powered outlets in the trailer (for charging a phone), but we didn't use them since our phones would charge in the car. I don't think they would power anything like a hair dryer, etc. The rest of the site included a trash can, a padded bench, two chairs, a picnic table, a charcoal grill, and a fire ring (wood available for purchase - I think it was $5 per bundle). There is no water at the site, but there is a sink and outdoor shower a short walk away. There is no hot water available, but it is potable. The rental included the free use of the (hot) showers at nearby (5 minute drive) Terlingua Ranch Lodge, where there is also a restaurant. There is also a portapotty a short walk away from the trailer, which was kept very clean and well-stocked with toilet paper. There is no cell service or wifi at the campsite, but free wifi is available if you walk down toward the stationary RVs.
Getting to the site in the dark can be a little intimidating - it's West Texas, so everything is pretty spread out. The owner of the site was excellent when communicating how to find it. Google Maps will not take you to the correct place - you must print out directions before you go (cell service is very spotty out there) and watch your car's odometer. Drive slowly and carefully - lots of wild animals and winding, unpaved roads. You can safely make it to the camp site with any kind of car, though a vehicle with high clearance and/or 4-wheel drive wouldn't hurt.
The site is about a 20-25 minute drive from Terlingua/Study Butte, and about a 30-35 minute drive to the entrance of Big Bend National Park. If you plan to stay here while visiting Big Bend, remember to factor drive time to the park and then within the park - it's a big place. The drives are beautiful, though, so it's not a chore.
Please be aware:
1) If you bring your own car, please check all systems before you take it out there. Our car's battery died halfway through the trip and the owner of the only auto parts store in Terlingua was out of town, so the store was closed. We had to get a jump in the park and then drive two hours north to Alpine to get a new battery.
2) West Texas is a desert - Big Bend NP only allows 5 gallons of water per person per day at potable spigots. Please be sparing and conserve where you can. That said, it is Texas, which means it can get very hot. Bring water with you everywhere.
3) West Texas is home to Mexican black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, javelinas (wild hogs), every variety of poisonous snake that lives in the United States, and more. It may not look like a typical "predator country," but it can be. Store food in hard-shell enclosed spaces, like your trailer or car. Bear boxes are not available at sites, but they are available in the national park. Watch carefully for snakes on dry ground at the site (rattlesnakes, copperheads, coral snakes) and in water (cottonmouths, water moccasins).
Small enough to not be noisy, large enough to be accommodating. Central to multiple trails. Staff was friendly and knowlegable. Shade trees at many sites, important even in November in Texas. Showers and restrooms available. Highly recommend!
It's 3 miles off Hwy 118 and 20 miles to the entrance to Big Bend NP. Very remote, but easy drive to sites. Totally open desert with no one else around and in the official dark sky country, so expect amazing stars at night.
Great bird watching opportunities. Beautiful night skies! old facilities are maintained but full of bugs especially spiders. Showers are available for a charge at the store as well as wifi at the store. The wifi only works on the store porch, so it is always crowded.
Fresno Vista has a wonderful view! It gets a little windy at night and you have to park your tent pretty far away from the fire ring for flat ground. It's wonderful having a shelter over the picnic table. The drive to the site off the main road is truly 4x4 - we barely got away with being in a 2SW SUV. We stayed over NYE when a cold front swung by - it was brutal but we still loved it. You're so far away from your neighbor which provides quite a bit of solitude.
The Rio Grande Village Campground is located in the far eastern part of Big Bend National Park. Prior to entering the park fill up with gas in the town of Marathon, because you will be driving far distances within the park and there is limited gas available.
In the Rio Grande Village there is a visitor center and convenience store. There are 25 campsites that fit small to mid-size RVs with hookups and 100 campsites for car campers. There are tables, fire pits and bear boxes at each campsite.There are communal restrooms and potable water nearby. The only available showers are located at the Rio Grande Village Store which is a short drive from the campground. The showers do cost a few dollars and are available 24/7. Some of the sites have covers, but most do not. There are some shade trees spread out sporadically amongst the campsites, but do not count on having much shade.
The main attraction of this campground is that you have the ability to walk right up to the Rio Grande River and the border between the US and Mexico. It is physically possible to cross the river into Mexico, but technically one must have a passport to travel between the two borders. Another feature of the area is the Hot Spring pool. You have to drive a little distance from the campgrounds and walk about 1 mile to reach the Hot Spring pool. Around the Hot Spring pool there are a few old structures that once housed stores and a school. There are some petroglyphs on the cliff walls along the trail to the hot springs. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to camp at the hot springs area due to safety concerns.
The Rio Grande Village is closest to Boquillas and Hot Springs but it’s a nice point for ALL your Big Bend adventures! Sites are big enough and have a little shade but it’s the view of the stars at night you’ll want to stay for! The Hot Springs are also great but sometimes crowded! Tru going early or staying late for the least crowded times. Don’t miss Boquillas canyon! You can also go across to the village here. While you’re in the park it’s only 45 minutes across to see Santa Elena and do plenty of hiking in between. PACK WATER. I repeat : PACK WATER. This is the desert and water isn’t on every corner.
Guy Foli (owner of the property and the campsites) is a true jack of all traits! Him and his wife,Pat, own and run Rancho Topanga campgrounds. Every spring break me and a group of 8 friends go down to Big Bend for the week. We always stay at Guy's campground. It's an easy 20 minute drive into Big Bend and you hit the gas station and grocery store along the way.
You are aloud campfires as long as they are controlled. Drinking is fine as long as there is no public intoxication. Pets are welcome! And there are even showers and flush toilets.
You are staying in the desert, so expect strong winds during the night and scorching sun rays during the day. There is a near my plato that you can climd, we found several shell fossils and cool rock on one of our excursions to the top. Also, the sunsets and sunrises are beautiful!!!
Reserve campsites months in advance if you can. Rancho Topanga fills up quick!
I hope you enjoy this mom n pop campsite as much as I do! :D