Planning a trip to Big Bend National Park? Trying to decide which entrance is best for Big Bend? Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each, along with some other helpful information to plan your trip accordingly.
How Many Entrances Does Big Bend National Park Have?
There are two main entrances to Big Bend National Park — the Persimmon Gap on the north, and the Maverick Junction on the southwest.
The Persimmon Gap Entrance is located about an hour from Marathon, TX, and 2 hours from Alpine, TX. The drive to the Persimmon Gap Entrance is very scenic as you wind your way through the Chihuahuan Desert. Once you arrive at the park, you’ll find a small visitor center with restrooms, a water fountain, and a few ranger-led programs.
The Maverick Junction Entrance is located about an hour from Terlingua, TX, and 2.5 hours from Study Butte, TX. The drive to the Maverick Junction Entrance is also very scenic, taking you through the Chihuahuan Desert and past some beautiful mountain ranges. Once you arrive at the entrance, you’ll take a short drive through Panther Junction Road until you hit the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. From there, you can head south to the Castolon Visitor Center, or keep going straight to reach the Chisos Basin Visitor Center.
What Are the Best Entrances for Big Bend National Park?
So, which entrance is best for you? If you’re looking for a more laid-back visit with fewer crowds, the Persimmon Gap Entrance is a great option. However, if you want to be closer to the action and have more things to do, the Maverick Junction Entrance is your
The Persimmon Gap Entrance is best for those who want to avoid crowds, as it’s typically much less busy than the Maverick Junction Entrance.
The Maverick Junction Entrance is best for those who want to be closer to the action, as it’s located near Panther Junction — the hub of activity in the park. This entrance also gives you quick access to the Santa Elena Canyon, one of the most popular attractions in the park. However, because this entrance is more popular, it can be more crowded and you may have to deal with traffic.
However, both entrances aren’t too far from each other, so it really just depends on your preference. So, whether you want to start your visit at the Persimmon Gap Entrance or the Maverick Junction Entrance, you’re sure to have a great time exploring all that Big Bend National Park has to offer.
Can You Just Drive Through Big Bend National Park?
You can drive through most of Big Bend National Park, but there are some areas that can only be accessed by foot.
The park road goes from the Chisos Basin to the Santa Elena Canyon. There are also several scenic drives, such as the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and the Chihuahuan Desert Drive.
If you want to explore more of the park, there are plenty of hiking trails, both short and long. You can also go camping, backpacking, and river rafting.
There are also ranger-led programs, such as hikes, campfire talks, and stargazing parties.
Can You Off-Road in Big Bend National Park?
No, off-roading is not allowed in Big Bend National Park. The park is home to a variety of plants and animals, many of which are sensitive to disturbance.
Off-roading can damage the environment and disturb the wildlife, so it is not permitted. If you want to explore more of the park, there are plenty of hiking trails, both short and long.
How Early Can I Enter Big Bend National Park?
Big Bend National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The park entrance fee is $30 per vehicle, good for 7 days. You can enter the park at any time, but some roads and campgrounds may be closed due to weather or other conditions.
And if you were hoping to check out one of the 5 visitor centers, depending on your stay, here are their hours:
|Chisos Basin Visitor Center||8:00am – 4:30pm|
|Panther Junction Visitor Center||8:00am – 5:00pm|
|Rio Grande Village Visitor Center||9:00am – 4:30pm||Closed for summer|
|Castolon Visitor Center||10:00am – 4:00pm||Closed for summer|
|Persimmon Gap Visitor Center||10:00am – 4:00pm||Closed for summer|
Big Bend is a hot desert oasis; so during the summer months, the park may close certain roads, visitor centers, and campgrounds due to extreme heat or fire danger.
Do You Need a Reservation for Big Bend National Park?
There are no reservations required to enter Big Bend National Park, but to stay in the campgrounds is a different story. All campgrounds in Big Bend National Park require reservations – no matter the season.
Do You Need A Permit For Overnight Camping In Big Bend National Park?
If you are planning on an overnight trip into the backcountry, you will need a permit. Permits can be obtained at the Panther Junction and Chisos Basin visitor centers, and you can get a permit as early as 24 hours in advance. You can also get your permit up to 180 days in advance
Can I Enter Big Bend National Park without A Car?
Here’s the thing about Big Bend National Park – it’s one of the least visited national parks in the country, and part of that is because it’s so remote. The closest major US city (El Paso) is almost 4 hours away, which makes getting to the park without a car pretty difficult.
However, once you’re in the park, there are plenty of things to do without a car. There are shuttle buses that run throughout the park, and you can hike or bike to many of the trails and attractions.
There is the option of Amtrak, which has a stop in Alpine, Texas – about an hour away from the park. From there, you’re still gonna need to hitch a ride, whether a taxi/uber or by finding a kind soul who is headed that way and willing to give you a ride.