Big Bend Ranch State Park

West Texas

At 486 sq miles, this massive park is more than 11 times bigger than Texas’ next largest state park (Franklin Mountains in El Paso). Taking up almost all the desert between Lajitas and Presidio, Big Bend Ranch reaches north from the Rio Grande into some of North America’s wildest country. Come for the scenic drive on River Road – you don’t have to pay if you simply drive through – as well as hiking, mountain biking and sweet, sweet solitude.

The most prominent among many notable features is the Solitario, a dome formed in a volcanic explosion 36 million years ago. The resultant caldera measures 8 miles east to west and 9 miles north to south.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby West Texas attractions

1. Barton Warnock Visitor Center

0.01 MILES

If you only stop at one Chihuahuan Desert exhibit in Big Bend country, make it this one, at the eastern entrance of Big Bend Ranch State Park, 1.4 miles…

2. Tee Pees Picnic Area

10.11 MILES

For a leisurely lunch and a few photographs, plan to stop at this striking picnic area. You'll know when you see it – those tipis are hard to miss.

3. Castolon Historic District

17.41 MILES

Dwarfed by the looming Sierra Ponce, the Castolon Compound buildings date from 1920. A half-mile historic stroll offers a brief look at frontier life…

4. Sam Nail Ranch

23.41 MILES

A short walk from the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, just five minutes or so in, you'll find the ruins of the Sam Nail Ranch. Nail arrived in 1909 and raised…