The best time to travel to Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park offers year-round camping, hiking, and outdoor adventure at a low cost.
Written by Lynell Spencer
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Jun 01, 2022
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Big Bend National Park. This is when the weather most allows you to revel in over 800,000 acres of natural geological and biological wonders. 
Big Bend National Park is located 300 miles east of El Paso, TX, and is among the largest national parks in the United States. The park is home to hundreds of wildlife species and offers hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, and river rafting in addition to some of the best desert landscapes around.
In recent years, the park has become motorcycle-friendly but still does not allow any non-street legal vehicles in the park. Whether you travel by motorcycle, RV, or car you can expect an almost other-worldly outdoor experience. 
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The best times of year to travel to Big Bend National Park 

Big Bend National Park makes good on its offer of “splendid isolation” and is a great outdoor getaway for camping enthusiasts. The park spans over 1250 square miles, with a variety of campgrounds and back-country exploration. 
The park is open year-round, and camping in Big Bend is possible even in the winter. Though, you will need to wear layers—daytime highs are in the 60s but below temperatures are freezing at night. 
If you are yearning to commune with nature, the park offers diverse landscapes and species, as evidenced by its sea fossils, dinosaur bones, and volcanic dikes. The desert has been described as alien, with nights perfect for stargazing. 
No matter when you go, make sure you visit the
Santa Elena Canyon
that forms part of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Many visitors raft or paddleboard in the canyon—which has walls as high as 1500 feet in some areas. 
Pro-Tip If you aren’t sure where to start, check out these
recommended itineraries
to see the best the park has to offer. 

Peak Season—February, March, and April 

Perfect day in Big Bend National Park
  • The good: Perfect temperatures, lots of wildlife, beautiful nights
  • The bad: Difficulty reserving a place to stay 
  • The weather: Highs in the 70-80 degree range, and lows in the mid-50s with only 1-3 rainy days per month 
Spring is the best (and busiest) time to visit Big Bend. March is the most popular month—if you are planning a spring visit, you may want to plan on staying in nearby ghost town
, which has lodging and dining and is located perfectly for day trips into the park.
Lodging is at a premium within the park. Campsite or rooms at any of the
primitive campsites,
or the lone lodging facility—
Chisos Mountains Lodge
—will be hard to come by. 

Off-season—June, July, and August

Aerial view of mountains in Big Bend National Park
  • The good: The cool evenings, high water levels  
  • The bad: The heat and humidity are oppressive
  • The weather: Daytime temps in the high 80s and nights only cooling to the high 60s, with high humidity and increased chance of rain.
For the most part, Big Bend offers the same activities and amenities year round—you just may enjoy them less in the summer. The park will be even less crowded, though, and as long as you stay hydrated you can still have a great time. 
Summer is also the best time for rafting in Big Bend—the water levels are a little higher, and the cool water is a great way to offset the heat. The park will cool down at night, making it a great time for after-hours activities like star-gazing and gathering around the campfire.
Plan to bring double the water you think you’ll need, sunglasses, and hot weather camping gear. 
There are plenty of inexpensive places to stay in neighboring towns, so you might stay in an air-conditioned hotel and explore the park from the comfort of your car—getting out to check out sites like the
Fossil Discovery Exhibit just north of Panther Junction

Shoulder Season—September, October, and November

Incoming storm and a rainbow in Big Bend National Park
  • The good: Good weather for outdoor activities and fewer crowds
  • The bad: You may have more rain than in the spring months
  • The weather: Warm and humid 70-80 degree days with mild (60 degrees) nights
From soaking in the
hot springs
to hiking the canyon, fall is a great time to visit Big Bend National Park. 
The summer heat is starting to abate, and the park is less crowded than it is in the spring. You will have a bit more cloud cover—which may be a good thing—but the park’s animal inhabitants may be less active.

The cheapest time to travel to Big Bend National Park

No matter the time of year, the major cost of a trip to Big Bend is the travel expense. Whether you drive or fly, getting there will be the biggest financial investment of the trip. 
Entry to the park is $15 per individual, $25 per motorcycle, or $30 per vehicle (up to 15 passengers) for a 7-day pass. If you plan to camp, you will need to make a reservation, and get a
camping permit
Front country camping spots will run you $16 per night, and backcountry spots are $10. All camping permits are limited to 14 days.
If you are planning to stay in hotel accommodations instead of camping, you will find the cheapest rates in January. But in general, Big Bend hotels range from $58 to $263 per night, while most vacation rentals will cost $190 to $400 per night for the entire home.
There are typically five days a year that the camp offers free admission, so if you are looking to save every penny, check the
National Parks
website before you plan your trip.

Find the best month for your visit to Big Bend National park

Big Bend National Park offers the same amenities and activities year-round, so the best month to visit is a bit of a moving target. Because the park can be affordable all year, the main determiners are usually heat and which activities you are most excited about.
If you are there for the
, avoid summer—but otherwise, the park and surrounding area are pretty comparable all year.
Best Month
March & April
Flowers and other flora are in full bloom. Weather is mild and dry
Rafting/Water Sport
July & August
Rainy season ensures that rivers are flowing at their peak.
Observing wildlife
Hot summer months force wildlife to hide, but cooler months offer sightings of hundreds of desert species, especially in early mornings and late evenings.
Perfect outdoor weather, clear skies.
Going cheap
Best prices and access to amenities in the park and surrounding areas.

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