I’ve been to Big Bend National Park three times in my life, so I’m no expert. Every time I’m there, the park pleasantly surprises me. I made a bare-bones vlog of my last trip to the park, and I’d like to add a bit more depth to what we did our first day.
We’ve stayed twice at the Rancho Topanga in Terlingua, TX. The main reason has been because they allow wood campfires while the park does not. Of course, be mindful of any county burn bans. Yes, apparently the desert can burn, and the locals will find you. I’m just kidding, about the desert burning, not about the locals finding you. Other pluses of the location are toilets, showers, faucets, and covered picnic tables. Those aren’t at every site, but they are available.
In Big Bend, we started with the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, a short hike of 0.75-mile round trip. You begin by walking through a spring-fed wetland and find yourself on a dry limestone hill overlook with a beautiful view of the Rio Grande. The diversity of the hike was maybe the most impressive thing.
We then made our way to Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico. Be sure to bring your PASSPORT. The exit point of the park is manned by a park ranger, who will inspect anything you bring back (the ranger will explain what you can and can’t bring back). Then you will use an immigration kiosk when you return to scan your passport and speak with a customs agent. Also, the port of entry CLOSES at 6 pm, so get back before then.
After you exit the port of entry, you walk down a short trail and find the Rio Grande and a man with a rowboat to take you across. It was a $5 round trip per person. Based on my one experience crossing at this location, the people speak plenty of English. This goes for the rest of the village too. There was usually someone who spoke enough to help you. Honestly though, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit of Spanish, to be polite at least.
After you cross the river, you have a chance to rent a horse, donkey, or truck ride to the village. It didn’t seem like a very long walk to the village, but you have the option. According to the locals, “It’s part of the experience.” After renting a donkey, you get a local guide. Once in the village, you go to their park ranger and pay $2 per person for entry into the village. The explanation was because the village is part of a Mexican National Park.
Boquillas is not a very large village, and you can probably see all there is in a few hours. The village also has two restaurants: Jose Falcon’s Restaurant and Boquillas Restaurant. Jose Falcon’s has reviews of having a better view, but Boquillas Restaurant was known to have better goat tacos. So, Boquillas Restaurant it was for my friends and me. On the day we went, the restaurant had cabrito (goat) tacos, cheese enchiladas, and chicken tamales for $7 a plate. We were given the option to mix two tacos with two tamales, for the same price.
After the trip to Boquillas del Carmen, we had time for one more day hike. The Boquillas Canyon Trail is a 1.4-mile round trip hike that starts with an overlook onto the Rio Grande and ends in a canyon surrounding the Rio Grande. During the trek, we even spotted a sheep on the crest of the northern canyon cliff. It was most likely a barbary sheep and not the rare bighorn sheep. Cell phones and action cameras weren’t enough to capture a good image, but our eyes did.
Overall, I was delighted with our late start day trip to Big Bend. It may have been the rain or the area we went to, but this was the greenest I’ve ever seen Big Bend.