Best Time to Visit Big Bend National Park

Man in a red canoe paddling down the river in between large cliffs

As one of the last true frontiers in the lower 48 states, Big Bend National Park is perfect for tourists looking to get away from the city. With 1,252 square miles across the Chihuahuan Desert in southern Texas, this park is roomy enough to host all those looking to explore it. Big Bend receives far fewer guests each year than other national parks like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, despite its immense size. In fact, it received a little over 440,000 guests in 2018, well below the millions that stopped by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This should all come as great news for anyone making their way to Big Bend. The hiking trails aren’t jam-packed with tourists, and you’ll enjoy unforgettable stargazing opportunities with little light pollution. Keep in mind that, like all attractions, some times of the year are busier than others. The best time to visit Big Bend National Park depends on what you’re looking for.

Fewest Tourists

Looking for rest and relaxation during your time in Big Bend National Park? You’ll want to avoid visiting during the holidays. The National Park Service notes that campsites are often full around federal holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and spring break, meaning that you probably won’t be the only one enjoying your favorite trail.

If these are the only dates that work for you, don’t fret! This park is huge, and like we said, it doesn’t get too many visitors, so solitude is always just around the corner in Big Bend. You may just need to arrive earlier than normal to your campsite.

Nicest Weather

While everyone has their own opinion on the best type of Big Bend weather, there are definitely better times to visit the park. Spring is busy, but it offers the perfect balance between hot and cold. Average temperatures in March reach a maximum of 75°F, meaning that you won’t be sweating like crazy on your day hike. That said, remember that spring break usually happens in March, so many other guests probably have the same idea. It’s also important to note that dehydration also strikes in April, when you probably aren’t expecting it. Remember to bring water with you at all times so that you can really enjoy your time on the trail.

If you’d rather spend your time out on the river, the hotter months of June, July, and August are your best bet. High temperatures may not quite float your boat, but they sure make playing in the water all the more enjoyable. As long as you’re equipped with plenty of drinking water and take precautions to avoid overexerting yourself, you shouldn’t have any problems. Visit Big Bend offers some great tips for keeping cool during the summer months.

Fall is another great season for those wanting milder temperatures. It does tend to be rainier than the spring, so a sturdy raincoat is a must! Since it’s generally not too busy (except around Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving), it’s a great compromise for those who want fewer guests without scorching temperatures. Do be warned that just like in April, visitors coming to the park in September may also struggle with dehydration, so don’t leave your water bottle at home!

Last but definitely not least, winter can also be a magical time to make your way to Big Bend National Park. The weather is much cooler during this time of year, but it won’t be a problem for those coming from freezing cold temperatures. The biggest issue is at night, when temperatures can approach freezing or below. This can easily be solved if your accommodation offers heating like our casitas, which are ready to handle any Big Bend weather.

The Takeaway

We really can’t tell you the best time to visit Big Bend National Park, since we think the weather is great all year round, and we’re fortunate enough to enjoy very tranquil busy seasons compared to other national parks. Our advice? Figure out what time works best for you, and plan your trip around it. There’s always something to do in Big Bend, no matter the season.

So what are you waiting for? Check out some of the activities you can do during your time here, and get ready for your return to nature. And if you have any questions, drop me a line at greg@bigbendfarflung.com. I’m always happy to hear from you!

— Greg