Among the national parks, Big Bend is something special. Located in west Texas and named for a large bend in the Rio Grande, the park is a wonderfully preserved expanse of earth, stone, water, and sky. It is also one of the least frequently visited national parks in the country.

Some of the words associated with Big Bend National Park give a clue to its uniqueness among the nation’s protected spaces: its mountains are called sky islands, and its sky is the darkest in the contiguous United States, earning it the designation of an international dark-sky park. Star-gazers, this is the place for you. On clear nights, thousands of stars dazzle the eyes; certain bright planets, as well as our own galaxy The Milky Way, are visible from Big Bend.

The Chisos Mountains are the only mountain range in the United States to be fully contained within a national park; they cover 40 square miles, and the Chihuahuan Desert surrounds them. In the lowlands, Big Bend really does resemble Lady Bird Johnson’s famous pronouncement: “This looks like the very edge of the world.”

The Rio Grande flows for nearly 1,900 miles before reaching the sea, and this river forms much of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. And Big Bend National Park carries a special responsibility in this regard: it administers 118 miles of that boundary.


Worth Checking Out

  • Chisos Mountains
  • The Rio Grande
  • The Milky Way


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