Big Bend National Park is the land of extremes! Desert weather, towering peaks and river rapids, this is not one for the faint-hearted. Located on the United States border with Mexico, this area is packed with unique wildlife and beautiful hikes. If you want a truly epic staycation this year, you should definitely consider this beautiful Texan getaway.
We can’t emphasise this enough: you have to be prepared. If the heat doesn’t get you, the snakes might! Big Bend National Park is a destination that we recommend most to experienced adventure travellers, so make sure you do your research before you get there.
Thankfully, we’ve done some of it for you! Alongside our own experience, we’ve consulted travel experts, locals and online reviews to bring you the four best places to stay in and around Big Bend National Park. With this guide, we’ll tell you all the safest spots in the area so you can have a stress-free visit.
So, let’s jump right in.
- Where to Stay in Big Bend National Park
- Big Bend National Park Neighborhood Guide
- Big Bend National Park 4 Best Places to Stay in
- #1 Terlingua – Overall Best Place to Stay in Big Bend National Park
- #2 Chisos Basin – Best Place to Stay in Big Bend National Park for Adventure
- #3 Lajitas – Where to Stay in Big Bend National Park Off the Beaten Path
- #4 Alpine – Where to Stay Near Big Bend National Park for Families
Big Bend is one of the USA’s great national parks. If we could give you one piece of advice, it would be not to visit without a car! Public transport is basically non-existent in the area, and driving from one end to the other can take a couple of hours. If you’re an experienced adventure traveller and don’t mind which neighbourhood you end up in, these are our top overall accommodation picks.
Quirky Camping Experience in Big Bend National Park: The Local Chapter
Big Bend National Park is packed with campsites, but we’re not here to bore you with the run of the mill tent pitches! Instead, we recommend this epic yurt right in the middle of the desert. The luxurious interiors give you the comforts of home, while the rural location means you get to enjoy the sense of adventure that comes with sleeping outdoors.
Unique Hotel in Big Bend National Park: The Chisos Suite
Can’t choose between a hotel or a holiday home? Get the best of both worlds with this private suite in a hotel right in the heart of Terlingua! There’s an excellent café on-site offering discounted breakfasts and unbeatable dinners.
Want to cook for yourself? The spacious communal kitchen has everything you could possibly need. If you just need some peace and quiet away from other people, you also have a private patio with barbecue.
Undisturbed Hideaway in Big Bend National Park: Casa Grande
You don’t get more rural than this! Cast away the shackles of society and become one with the desert at this secluded little hideaway close to Lajitas and the Rio Grande.
If you do need a little social interaction, there are a few other resorts within walking distance, with shared facilities between each. That being said, everything you could possibly need can be found within the house.
Want to stay right in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert without giving up on your home comforts? Terlingua is the place for you! This small town was once a major mining area in Texas and has since adapted to the growing tourism industry.
The Chisos Mountains form some of the most scenic parts of the national park, but accommodation can be quite sparse. If you head closer to the Chisos Basin area, you’ll find some of the best campsites and lodges in the area!
Lajitas actually isn’t that far from Terlingua – but it has an entirely different atmosphere! It hasn’t been as influenced by the tourism industry, so you’ll get to discover a more modern and authentic way of life in this town.
If we’re truly honest, Big Bend National Park isn’t what we’d consider a family destination. That being said, it is a great day trip option if you’re looking for an awe-inspiring adventure in the south with the kids.
Big Bend National Park 4 Best Places to Stay in
Big Bend National Park is a paradise for adventure travellers, but even those taking baby steps into the North American Wilderness can have a fulfilling experience with a little guidance. Let us help you out here, and keep reading for the four best places to stay. We’ve even included our favourite activities and accommodation picks in each!
Want to stay right in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert without giving up on your home comforts? Terlingua is the place for you! This small town was once a major mining area in Texas and has since adapted to the growing tourism industry. In Terlingua, you will get to experience the Wild West culture while still enjoying the convenience of modern life.
As the main tourism centre of Big Bend National Park, Terlingua is where many of the best tours depart from. It has quick connections to the airport, as well as all the other areas mentioned in this guide. If this is your first trip to Big Bend National Park, we highly recommend staying close by.
Camp Under the Stars in Terlingua: Las Estrellas Tipi
We love this gorgeous tipi under the stars on the outskirts of Terlingua! You will be able to admire the sunrise and the sunset over the desert hills from the comfort of your own tipi. Everything is set up before you arrive and maintained throughout the stay, so you can kick back and relax without having to worry about the hard stuff.
Reclusive Desert Bungalow in Terlingua: Terlingua House
This bungalow is a short drive outside of Terlingua – perfect if you need to completely disconnect! Everything you need is contained within the house, including a well-stocked kitchen. The outdoor area comes with a fire pit and barbecue spot, where you can enjoy laid back evenings under the Texan sky. With three bedrooms and a private en-suite in the master bedroom, this is perfect for families taking a more adventurous option.
Rustic Hotel Suite in Terlingua: The Chisos Suite
Despite its location as part of a larger resort, the Chisos Suite has all the benefits of a private villa! The private patio area not only has a barbecue, but it also comes with stunning views of the nearby mountains. The rustic interiors give it a traditional feel – but fear not, all of the modern appliances you need for a comfortable stay are included.
Things to See and Do in Terlingua:
- Here to check out the Rio Grande? There’s only one way to do it – with this guided tour of the river by boat! Trips depart from just outside Terlingua.
- Terlingua Ghost Town is a must-visit. Here you can discover the town’s mining history and even speak with some of the locals that still live here.
- Kosmic Kowgirl has become a symbol of the tourism industry in the area, but it’s still a must-visit for the best barbecue in Big Bend.
- Head to Terlingua Springs Market to grab some souvenirs from local traders – and even see real-life cowboys ride on by.
The Chisos Mountains form some of the most scenic parts of the national park, but accommodation can be quite sparse. If you head closer to the Chisos Basin area, you’ll find some of the best campsites and lodges in the area! This is, however, right in the heart of the wilderness, so we recommend it only for the most adventurous travellers.
Chisos Basin Campsite is a popular accommodation choice for visitors, but we have a few big surprises up our sleeves for where to stay in this area! That being said, there’s a visitors centre close to the campsite, so head there first to get your bearings on all the best hikes in the region.
Luxury Yurt in Chisos Basin: The Local Chapter
We won’t play favourites, but if we had to, we reckon this would be our number one accommodation pick in the entire National Park! The spacious interiors come with a log burner, so you can keep yourself warm when it gets cold in the evenings. Guests also have access to a professional telescope to admire the unspoiled night skies.
Western Trailer in Chisos Basin: Soul of the Desert
Have a rootin’ tootin’ Wild West experience in this trailer right in the heart of Big Bend National Park! There’s a small deck with a dining area round the back of the trailer – perfect for admiring the sunset over a couple of beers. Inside the trailer, you will enjoy all the home comforts of a cabin or hotel, with a fully equipped kitchen and flushing toilet.
Rural Lodge near Chisos Basin: Terlingua Ranch Lodge
Just dipping your toe into adventure travel? This lodge is only a few minutes drive from Terlingua, so you get to soak in the secluded atmosphere while still enjoying easy access to civilisation. What really sets this apart from other accommodations is the private outdoor pool, perfect for cooling off under the harsh Chihuahuan Desert sunshine. We also love the barbecue facilities.
Things to See and Do in Chisos Basin:
- Hiking! Big Bend National Park is packed with natural beauty – grab some maps and supplies from the visitor centre and make sure you’re clued up on wildlife. There are some great hikes in the US’s national parks.
- Not quite ready to hike in the middle of a desert? Don’t worry; we got you! Sierra del Carmen is the main highway through the area and is a great scenic driving route.
- Big Bend Stables is on the road to Terlingua, so pop in to live out your cowboy dreams right here in the Wild West.
- There’s not much else to do, but part of the charm of Big Bend National Park is its lack of human activity – especially when you see the night sky!
Lajitas actually isn’t that far from Terlingua – but it has an entirely different atmosphere! It hasn’t been as influenced by the tourism industry, so you’ll get to discover a more modern and authentic way of life in this town. For those that like to live like a local when they travel, Lajitas is an excellent choice.
It is also located right next to the Rio Grande! There are plenty of river activities available in the area, including rafting and kayaking. Even families will get to enjoy the more child-friendly sailings down along the border with Mexico.
Private Campervan in Lajitas: Maverick Ranch
Another awesome caravan in the desert, this one is an excellent pick for budget travellers! As it is a campervan, you can also travel around the area with this one – though the owner does request you stay within the National Park. It is parked on Maverick Ranch, which is close to various river sports such as kayaking and rafting.
Upscale Resort Home in Lajitas: Casa Grande
Casa Grande is a great compromise between rural seclusion and a small community that you can mingle with throughout your stay. Lajitas is within walking distance, but we do recommend bringing a car to avoid the harsher weather conditions. Guests at this accommodation have access to other resort facilities, including river sports and horse riding. Yeehaw!
Luxury Hotel in Lajitas: Lajitas Golf Resort
Sometimes you just need a hotel! This four-star resort is the perfect choice for an easy-going getaway close to Big Bend National Park. It has a luxurious pool area with sun loungers and a bar. For this reason, we reckon it is a great choice for couples looking to stray off the beaten path this summer. It’s also right next to the golf course.
Things to See and Do in Lajitas:
- Check out the Rio Grande! This is definitely one of the most scenic spots in the area, with plenty of water-based activities and tours on offer.
- Lajitas Trading Post is one of the few attractions that harks back to the towns cowboy history, with cattle ranchers bringing their prized stock to this day.
- We love the cuisine on offer at Candelilla Café – alongside typical southern fare, you have to try their delectable TexMex inspired breakfasts.
- Want to mingle with locals? We promise they’re friendly – and you can enjoy some budget-friendly beers with them at the Thirsty Goat Saloon.
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If we’re truly honest, Big Bend National Park isn’t what we’d consider a family destination. That being said, it is a great day trip option if you’re looking for an awe-inspiring adventure in the south with the kids. Alpine is about a two-hour drive from the centre of Big Bend National Park, and it is definitely one of the safest places to stay in the region. It’s also close to Marfa, which has lots of great places to stay if you’re into your arts.
As well as the great atmosphere, Alpine has some exciting attractions in its own right! The nearby airport is a hub for flight adventures and hot air balloons – some of which are totally kid-friendly. For families looking for a convenient location with plenty of tourism facilities, look no further than Alpine.
Rustic Farm Stay in Alpine: Mountain View Guest House
Another great pick for couples, this cute little farm stay has a private jacuzzi bath! Soak up the warmth, marvel at the stars, and sip on a glass of wine or two every evening for a truly romantic experience. The cabin is located on a working farm, so you also have the chance to interact with animals during the day.
Secluded Ranch House near Alpine: Cathedral Mountain
Get an authentic cattle ranch experience with this unique accommodation just outside Alpine! With five bedrooms, this is an excellent choice for larger families and groups heading to the area. It is also a short drive from McDonald Observatory. Guests are given discounts to events at the observatory, so definitely book if you have any space lovers in your party.
Laid Back Guest House in Alpine: Sierra Vista
Small families can save money by staying at this cute little villa in the heart of Alpine. Though it only has one bedroom, there are sleeping spaces in the living area – perfect if you’re just visiting for a few days to see the National Park. The large patio has epic views towards the mountains and even the odd quail visitor.
Things to See and Do in Alpine:
- Alpine is the perfect spot for live music – we recommend Old Gringo and Railroad Blues, but most saloons have regular sessions.
- Creativity might not be the first thing you expect when visiting Alpine, but Gallery on the Square and the Kokernot Park street art are here to prove you wrong.
- Head on the historical walking tour of Alpine to discover the fascinating, but little told, history of the town and Big Bend National Park.
- Have an all-American dining experience at Penny’s Diner – their kids’ menu is also very budget-friendly.
Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Big Bend National Park?
Big Bend National Park is an epic adventure for those looking for a thrilling staycation this year! The stunning mountain scenery is full of gorgeous hiking trails, with plenty of maps available at the various visitor centres. The Rio Grande is perfect for those interested in kayaking and rafting, and the small towns nearby offer a unique insight into modern life in the Wild Wild West.
Overall, our favourite neighbourhood has to be Terlingua! It is well connected to the rest of the park, has plenty of excellent tourism facilities, and all of this without compromising on the wild and rustic atmosphere of Big Bend National Park.
That being said, all the neighbourhoods mentioned in this guide have their own charms. If you’re looking for a wild adventure, heading deep into the heart of the National Park will certainly get the adrenaline going. Otherwise, both Alpine and Lajitas are laid back alternatives.
We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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