Big Bend National Park

Park in West Texas

Image by marcoisler Getty Images

This national park is almost the size of Rhode Island: when you’re traversing Big Bend’s 1252 sq miles, you come to appreciate what ‘big’ really means. It’s a land of incredible diversity – vast enough to allow a lifetime of discovery, yet laced with enough well-placed roads and trails to permit short-term visitors to see a lot in two to three days.

Some of the best hikes depart from Chisos Basin. A challenging favorite is the 9-mile round-trip hike up Emory Peak (7832ft), the highest point in the park.