Spring break 2023 is anticipated to be an extremely busy time at Big Bend National Park in remote West Texas. “If the last year is any indication, our expectations are for an extremely busy spring break this year,” says Chief Interpretation & Visitor Services Tom VandenBerg. He advises visitors to plan ahead and make camping/lodging arrangements either in the park or gateway communities before embarking on the journey. VandenBerg warns that many people are making the long journey to this remote park, only to find that all camping sites and lodging options are already reserved.
VandenBerg reminds visitors that reservations are required for ALL Big Bend National Park campgrounds, and campers can make reservations up to six months in advance, with a limited number of campsites reservable up to 14 days in advance. He urges visitors to make their reservations through the online reservation portal at www.recreation.gov as soon as possible, as most sites are already reserved for the spring break period.
Backcountry permits are required for backpacking and primitive campsites. The most popular backcountry sites are available for online permits up to six months in advance via www.recreation.gov, and most sites have already been reserved. For those with rugged vehicles, a handful of remote primitive roadside campsites are available for in-person permitting. Permits may be obtained in person up to 24 hours in advance at the Panther Junction (8:30a-5:00p) and Chisos Basin (8:30a-4:00p) Visitor Centers.
Visitors seeking lodging inside the park without reservations may have difficulty finding accommodations. The Chisos Mountains Lodge, the only lodging facility in the park, reports that few reservations are available. VandenBerg suggests calling the lodge at (432) 477-2291 for more information. He also notes that additional camping facilities, RV parks, and lodging are located in communities outside the park, with current listings available at www.visitbigbend.com.
Spring visitors should also be aware of limited parking at many of the park’s most popular areas and trailheads. Visitors to the Lost Mine Trail, Chisos Basin, Hot Springs, Boquillas Port of Entry, Boquillas Canyon, and Santa Elena Canyon Trail may experience delays. When all parking is full, rangers will establish “one-in, one-out” traffic control measures in these areas. Visitors should have alternate itineraries planned.
“More than ever, people are seeking out the qualities of this special place. Spring is a beautiful time to visit Big Bend, but also the busiest. Many are surprised at the crowds and disappointed to find that there is nowhere to stay,” continued VandenBerg. “We wish to encourage people to also visit during other times of the year to maximize enjoyment of Big Bend, and the remote sense of peacefulness that it is known for.”