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Big Bend Road Trip Tips

A paved road in Big Bend National Park with a rainow appearing from the clouds

Road Trip to Big Bend National Park

There are some of us out there that love road trips and for good reason. It may sound cheesy but getting out onto the open road gives you a sense of freedom, allows you to escape and let your mind wander, and is a great way to unwind. And what better way to enjoy that sensation than a road trip to Big Bend National Park.

A spontaneous road trip is great but there are several ways you can prepare for a road trip and we’re here to help. Depending on where you’re coming from, whether you’re looking at road trips from Houston or beyond, the key to a successful trip is organization. Let’s jump in!

What to Take

Regardless of whether you’re renting a car or taking your own, ensure you have these essentials;

  • Your driver’s license
  • All necessary paperwork (registration, insurance documents)
  • Your roadside assistance contact information
  • A detailed car manual
  • A basic collection of roadside tools; a spare tire and the tools to change it
  • A flashlight
  • And if you’re driving in winter to a snow-prone area, bring snow chains!

If Big Bend is your destination of choice, the neverending expanse of the national park means sporadically located gas stations, so remember to bring;

  • A spare bottle of oil
  • A large bottle of coolant, or water
  • A portable gas container
  • And the ever-important wiper fluid

Aside from the more practical items, there are also other things you’d be amiss without!

  • Your bank cards/cash!
  • Your smartphone and access to a navigation app – and don’t forget the paper map for when you are out of range
  • Portable charger and a window/dashboard mount for your phone
  • Any medication, a reusable water bottle, the ever-important snacks
  • Napkins, tissues, baby wipes, trash bag, and travel pillow
  • And a carefully thought-out music playlist!

Big Bend Scenic Drives

Now that the car is packed and you’re ready to set off, it’s time to plan your route. But no matter which direction you are traveling from, one of the best ways to explore Big Bend is by watching the world go by in your vehicle. The Chisos Mountain range provides an incredible backdrop to a unique place with a rich cultural past and abundant in plants and wildlife. There is a wide selection of scenic trails in and around Big Bend from paved and unpaved roads coupled with countless 4WD-only tracks for you to enjoy. If you’re looking for any extra hints, tips, or information, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here:

Best Pit Stops En Route to Big Bend

While enjoying the drive through unknown desert, we’ve also collated 3 must-visit cities on your way to Big Bend. Here’s a quick overview but bear in mind that nothing compares to visiting these places in person:


This unique desert city with roughly 2000 inhabitants attracts art-lovers from all over the US. Situated roughly 1.5 hours from Big Bend, it offers visitors a wide range of art galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment options. Check out the Chinati Foundation, an interesting, non-profit contemporary art gallery, enjoy a tasty burrito at Marfa Burrito, shop at the wonderful Wrong Marfa, and check out the incredible Marfa Lights, the enchanting desert light show.


Tipped as one of the most beautiful drives in the state of Texas, the River Road drive from Marfa to Terlingua is simply breathtaking. After enjoying the amazing views, you’ll arrive at this old silver mining town. Steeped in history, it’s the perfect place to spend the day and learn more about the mining industry and the area. There’s also an infamous ghost town just waiting to be explored…if you dare.


A quaint, easy-going city around 30 minutes from Marfa, there is so much to see and do before heading into Big Bend! Visit one of the many beautiful murals dotted around the center, pick up a brochure at the local visitor center and take a walking tour to take a closer look at the area’s interesting history and explore the numerous, ever-changing exhibits at the Museum of the Big Bend. In need of a hearty meal, coffee, and/or a good beer? Head over to Harry’s Tinaja, the Old Gringo, the Century Bar, or the famous local Mexican restaurant, La Casita—lots of great options for you to enjoy!

In all, your road trip to Big Bend won’t disappoint. The opportunity to hit the open road coupled with the unique, vast desert views will blend together seamlessly to provide a perfect wilderness getaway for you and your group. So if you’re planning some road trips from Dallas or from further afield, send me an email at for further road trip recommendations to Big Bend, and we’ll help point you in the right direction.

– Greg