Hardscrabble trails that meander past prickly pear cactuses and through awe-inspiring canyons. Wide-open valleys that merge with monumental mountains. Endlessly sunny skies that transform into a showcase of all the universe’s celestial wonders at night.
There’s nowhere like the Big Bend of Texas, where all the stark beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert can be enjoyed in all its magnificence. Situated along the Texas-Mexico border in far West Texas, Big Bend’s remote location makes the journey here a long one. Unless you’re coming from El Paso. The “Sun City” is the best starting point to your Big Bend adventure. Here’s why.
El Paso is Perfectly Placed
Nestled among the foothills of the majestic Franklin Mountains in far West Texas, El Paso is a vibrant oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert. As remote as it may initially seem, “Sun City” is the best starting point for your next Big Bend adventure. You can catch direct flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and more on seven carriers, including American Airlines, Delta, and United. Along with the convenience, flights into El Paso International Airport are more affordable than into other airports in the area. Additionally, the airport has 10 car rental agencies, giving you plenty to choose from.
Not only is El Paso easy to get to, you’ll find more than what you need for as long as you’re in town. Take your pick from one of a variety of places to stay, ranging from upscale downtown hotels to comfortable accommodates from the biggest names in the business. If you get a hankering for enchiladas, tacos, menudo, and more, get ready for some of the best Tex-Mex you’ve ever had. As an international city, El Paso also has food from around the world, so you’ll want to bring your appetite.
When you’re ready to explore Big Bend, you’ll find that El Paso is less than 300 miles away. Get some great music and settle in for a scenic drive through the West Texas desert and you’ll be there in no time.
Adventure is Never Far Away
As much as there is to see and do in Big Bend, there’s an abundance of other amazing places to explore before you even start cruising east on Interstate 10. Drive less than two hours and you’ll encounter more than 190 miles of hiking trails that wind and weave through some of Texas’ most spectacular terrain. Lose yourself amongst the high-desert mountains at Franklin Mountains State Park, home to more than 100 miles of scenic pathways. Then uncover the ancient Native American pictographs and get in some first-rate rock climbing at Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, located less than 40 miles outside of El Paso.
You could spend all your time at these two parks, but you wouldn’t be done yet. Curise about 110 miles and you’ll find yourself in the breathtaking Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Stretch your legs on more than 80 miles of trails, including one that takes you to the tallest peak in Texas. Meanwhile, White Sands National Monument is another must see for its gypsum sand dunes that form one of America’s most iconic landscapes.
Make some time to visit any of these sites and you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your time in far West Texas.
There’s Plenty to Do Here Before You Visit Big Bend
With its vibrant borderland culture and array of attractions, El Paso has more than enough for you to see and do while you’re here. Visit El Paso’s three historic missions, the oldest of which (Ysleta) was built in 1682 and is considered the oldest continuously active parish in Texas. Uncover even more of “Sun City’s” storied past at the Magoffin Home State Historic Site, a magnificent adobe-walled home that once housed some of El Paso’s most prominent people. To experience the heart and the soul of the city as it is today, ride the trolley through Downtown El Paso. A real throwback experience, the trolley takes you past hotels, restaurants, San Jacinto Plaza, the El Paso Museum of History, and more.
Of course, there’s always the El Paso Zoo. Occupying 35 lush acres, the zoo is home to lions, tigers, bears, elephants, wild horses, and many other animals from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Art galleries, craft breweries, museums, and even vineyards and wineries are among the other things you can check out here, so take your time and build your own adventure.
The Journey to Big Bend is Remarkable
Towering mountains, sweeping desert panoramas, and one-of-a-kind towns. You’ll see it all on your way to Big Bend, almost as soon as you leave El Paso. Cruise southeast on I-10 and it won’t be long until you see the picturesque Quitman Mountains looming on the horizon. Stop in Van Horn for lunch as you ponder your next move. Heading south on Highway 90 takes you to small towns with unique roadside attractions of their own, while Highway 118 south is a winding ascent past grasslands, oaks, and pines through the Davis Mountains.
All roads lead to Alpine, a populous town of 6,000 with a thriving live music scene, an abundance of murals to check out, and a history all its own. With so much to see and do from El Paso to Big Bend, this is one road trip you won’t want to rush.
What to Do When You’re Here
You’ve finally made it to one of America’s most majestic outdoor playgrounds. Now what? The possibilities really are endless. Tie on your hiking shoes and traverse more than 150 miles of trails through secluded canyons and up to mountain peaks. Mountain biking, horseback riding, and off-road vehicle tours are other ways you can explore Big Bend. Of course, we’re just getting started. Take a river trip in the shade of monumental cliffs along the Rio Grande River and see Big Bend National Park, along with Big Bend Ranch State Park, the largest state park in Texas. If it’s cold out, hike to Big Bend’s hot spring, which stays at a balmy 105 degrees year-round.
If you’re looking to treat yourself to a luxurious stay while you’re in Big Bend, look no further than the Lajitas Golf Resort. Tee off on one of the best golf courses in Texas, Black Jack’s Crossing, according to the Dallas Morning News. Featuring 18 holes set among rugged hills and mountains, some of which overlook the Rio Grande, there’s nothing like a round here. When you’re not golfing, relax by the pool or soar high above deep canyons on a zip lining tour, then return to your luxurious suite, condo, or villa decorated with ample Southwestern charm.
Sunset brings about its own opportunities as well. Big Bend is one of the best places you can go stargazing, as there is almost no light pollution here. To sip on a drink and unwind, find your way to such iconic spots as the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua or the Gage Hotel in Marathon.
With its breathtaking landscapes and all the ways to enjoy being outdoors, Big Bend is a destination that belongs on just about anyone’s bucket list. Start your adventure in El Paso and you’ll get the most out of your next Big Bend adventure.