USA, Texas, Big Bend National Park, Desert landscape

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Big Bend National Park

West Texas

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 well-placed roads and trails that enable short-term visitors to see a lot in two to three days.

Some of the best hikes depart from Chisos Basin, including the 4.8-mile Lost Mine Trail, and the challenging 10.5-mile round-trip hike up Emory Peak (7832ft), the highest point in the park.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby West Texas attractions

1. Fossil Discovery Exhibit

7.51 MILES

As you look out at the desert from the pavilion that houses this recent addition to the park, it's hard to imagine that a shallow sea once covered much of…

2. Sam Nail Ranch

10.45 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…

3. Castolon Historic District

22.94 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…