Getting to Big Bend National Park from Anywhere in the World

Row of planes with U.S. flag painted on their tails

Big Bend National Park is one of the last true frontiers in the lower 48 states. Its desert climate, vibrant wildlife, and abundant hiking trails make it the perfect destination for adventurers looking to reconnect with nature. The park’s semi-remote location means it isn’t overrun with tourists like many of the nation’s other national parks, but it also means that those looking to visit need to do a little extra planning to figure out how to get here. If you’re like us and can’t resist the siren song of Big Bend’s beauty, don’t worry! We’ve created a handy guide for how to find us from anywhere in the world.

International Arrivals

Directions from Dallas

For those coming from outside our wonderful state, there’s a few different airports for you to choose from. The easiest is the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), since it’s both the American Airlines headquarters and one of the busiest airports in the United States. If you’re coming from outside the country, especially from Central or South America, you’ll probably end up flying through here on your way.

To get to Big Bend National Park from Dallas, you can rent a car and make the 10 to 12-hour drive. Take I-20 to just west of Odessa, then take either Farm Road 1053 or Highway 18 (from Monahans) south to Fort Stockton. After that, you’ll want to follow Highway 67 South to Alpine and Highway 118 South to Study Butte/Terlingua.

Directions from Houston

Another option is to fly into the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Though it’s not as busy as DFW, it’s still a hub for airlines throughout the world, and there’s a good chance that international jetsetters have stopped there once or twice.

Once you’ve made it here, buckle up for the 10 to12-hour journey and set out on the open road (metaphorically speaking). Our best advice is to travel on I-10 to San Antonio and then take Highway 90 through Del Rio until you reach Big Bend. On your way back, it’s quicker for you to take I-10 from Fort Stockton back to Houston for your return flight.

Domestic Connections

Directions from Austin

If a 10 to12-hour drive sounds like too much after a long flight, you can also make a connection to one of the closer airports. You can fly to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas and make a 7-hour drive to El Paso by taking Highway 290 through Fredericksburg to I-10. From there, travel west on I-10 to Fort Stockton. Eventually, you’ll take Highway 67 to Alpine, then Highway 118 South to Study Butte/Terlingua.

Directions from San Antonio

It’s only a 7-hour drive from San Antonio to Terlingua as well. Fly into San Antonio International Airport and get ready to drive! There are two options for this route: take either Highway 90 through Del Rio or I-10 W through Sonora. Both will get you where you need to be.

Directions from El Paso

One of the airports that requires the shortest drive to Terlingua is El Paso International Airport. Once you arrive here, take I-10 east to Van Horn, then Highway 90 to Alpine. After that, you’ll drive down Highway 118 South to Study Butte/Terlingua. It’s only 4.5 hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery without getting too bored.

Directions from Midland/Odessa

Midland International Air & Space Port is your best option if you want to do the least amount of driving possible, since it’s only about 3.5 hours from Big Bend. To get to Terlingua from Midland, take I-20 to just west of Odessa, then take either Farm Road 1053 or Highway 18 (from Monahans) south to Fort Stockton. After that, hop onto Highway 67 South to Alpine and head down Highway 118 South to Study Butte/Terlingua.

As you can tell, Texas has plenty of airports. We’ve only mentioned a few of the main ones, but there are plenty more that you can fly in and out of when it suits your route. Whichever road you end up taking, we’ll be waiting for you in Terlingua. You’re always welcome at Big Bend National Park. If you have any questions, send me an email at greg@bigbendfarflung.com.

— Greg