For 196 miles, this free-flowing stretch of the Rio winds its way through desert expanses and stunning canyons of stratified rock. For the well prepared, an extended float trip provides opportunities to explore the most remote corner of Texas and experience the ultimate in solitude, self-reliance, and immersion in natural soundscapes.
Prehistoric and historic sites are abundant along the river corridor, mostly on private property in the United States or Mexico. Preserving these sites is important in understanding human use and development of the Rio Grande and the Big Bend.
Boquillas Canyon Trail
The Boquillas Canyon Trail is a great way to enjoy one of the three major canyons located in Big Bend National Park. This trail is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip and parallels the Rio Grande for a short distance where it first enters Boquillas Canyon.
Mariscal Canyon Rim Trail
The 6.5 mile Mariscal Rim Trail is as rewarding as it is remote. Located in the very southern part of the park along River Road, it takes 2 hours to reach the trailhead from the paved park road near Rio Grande Village. A high-clearance, 4x4 vehicle is necessary to reach the trailhead.
Boquillas Port of Entry
The Boquillas Port of Entry was opened on April 10, 2013. There are passport and visa requirements that you need to possess in order to take advantage of this opportunity, as well as a passenger ferry boat to ease access.
Langford Hot Springs
The Langford Hot Springs have an impressive history of use from Native Americans to J.O. Langford's healing resort.
Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
The 0.75 mile Rio Grande Village Nature trail crosses a wetland area on a boardwalk and climbs a small hill to a viewpoint. This is a great hike for birdwatchers and photographers.
Hot Springs Canyon Trailhead-Daniels Ranch
The 6-mile roundtrip Hot Springs Canyon trail follows the Rio Grande from Daniels Ranch to the hot spring and the Hot Springs Historic District.
Hot Springs Canyon Trailhead-Hot Springs
This 1 mile roundtrip walk passes the remains of a resort, homestead, and pictographs, eventually ending at the hot springs. One can continue hiking above the river to Daniels Ranch, a roundtrip distance of 6 miles.
In the early part of the 20th century, hardy homesteaders constructed dwellings and an elaborate network of irrigation ditches for farming near this location beside the Rio Grande.
Panther Junction Service Station
The Panther Junction Service Station is open daily. Operated by the park's concessioner Forever Resorts, the facility offers fuel, snacks, convenience items, restrooms, and souvenirs. Gas pumps open 24 hrs.
The Hot Springs Historic District preserves a rich history of human occupation from thousands of years ago to the not-so-distant past. Visitors can study rock art left behind on the limestone cliffs, or imagine what it would have been like to meet at the Hot Springs Post Office in the early 1900s to collect your mail. Langford's impressive bathhouse is long gone; today the spring is contained by the foundation remains of the bathhouse, on the north bank of the Rio Grande.
River Road - East
The River Road is a 51-mile long primitive backcountry road between the Rio Grande Village and Castolon areas. This is one of the most remote areas of Big Bend, and rough conditions requires a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle and slow and careful driving. Due to its length and usually rough road conditions, allow a full day to drive from end to end.
Stillwell Store and RV Park
Privately owned campground and general store near the northern entrance to Big Bend National Park.
Source: NPS Website (2020)
Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards
Acoustic Monitoring 2010: Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NRSS/NRTR-2013/770 (June 2013)
An Administrative History of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River with Focus on Major Concerns and Public Comment (HTML edition) (Raymond Skiles, ed., June 11, 1988)
Gradsect and Field Sampling Plan for Big Bend National Park/Rio Grande National Wild and Scenic River NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/CHDN/NRR-2011/300 (Dan Cogan and James Von Loh, February 2011)
Legacy Data Evaluation Report for Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande National Wild and Scenic River NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/CHDN/NRR-2011/301 (James Von Loh and Dan Cogan, February 2011)
Mammals of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River Downstream of Big Bend National Park: 2008 Final Report NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/CHDN/NRTR-2011/490 (James M. Mueller, September 2011)
Man on the Rio Grande: Introduction and Overview New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 35th Field Conference (John A. Ware, 1984)
Protecting the National Parks in Texas Through Enforcement of Water Quality Standards: an Exploratory Analysis NPS Technical Report NPS/NRWRD/NRTR-94/18 (Ronald A. Kaiser, Steven E. Alexander and J. Porter Hammitt, November 1994)
Rio Grande Prehistory: Prelude to Contact New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 35th Field Conference (Linda S. Cordell, 1984)
The Anasazi Culture of the Northern Rio Grande Rift New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 35th Field Conference (Stewart Peckham, 1984)
The Tewa Indians of the Rio Grande and Their NeighborsA.D. 1450-1680 New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 35th Field Conference (Albert H. Schroeder, 1984)
Vegetation Classification List Update for Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande National Wild and Scenic River NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/CHDN/NRR-2011/299 (James Von Loh and Dan Cogan, February 2011)
Wax, Men, and Money: A Historical and Archeological Study of Candelila Wax Camps along the Rio Grande Border of Texas Office of the State Archeologist Report 32 (Curtis Tunnell, 1981, ©Texas Historical Commission)
Handbooks ◆ Books
Last Updated: 01-May-2021