Big Bend Ranch State Park encompasses over 300,000 acres, and unlike the National Park, it has been left in as natural a state as possible. The state park doesn’t offer any of the accomodations you would have come to expect from state parks, and that’s just fine, because you are left with a completely “wild” place to explore and play! However, it’s important to know what to expect at Big Bend Ranch State Park, and my goal is that this prepares you!
Know Before You Go
There are NO campsites at Big Bend Ranch State Park, and all camping is completely primitive.
The huge park stretches along the River Road, for over 40 miles, with various places along the river to hike and camp.
Fill up your gas tank before heading into the park, or onto the River Road. It’s not a bad idea to bring extra gas with you if you are headed to Sauceda or backcountry camping.
Carry enough water and supplies for at least 2 days, even if you are only planning on a short trip into the park. You should always be prepared for emergencies, where cell phone service is limited, and you may not find help for days.
Barton Warnock Visitors Center
Near Lajitas is the Barton Warnock Visitors Center, where you can pay your park entrance fee, pick up maps and do a little souvenir shopping.
They also have an interesting interpretive center and garden.
Before you visit, check the website for upcoming events at the park, but also call and speak with a Ranger, because some events are listed.
You can also follow the state park on facebook for upcoming events and notices. Click HERE to visit the official Big Bend Ranch State Park facebook page.
The Barton Warnock Visitors Center also has their own facebook page, and they post other events and notices, as well. Please click HERE to visit their facebook page.
Historic Sauceda Ranch House and Bunkhouse
Stay in the historic Ranch house or Bunkhouse. Click HERE for more information.
Fort Leaton State Historic Site
Fort Leaton lies just outside Presidio, and is operated by the state park. Your entrance fee at Barton Warnock also pays your entrance into Fort Leaton, or you can pay your entrance fee here for the state park. You must pay your fee to hike any of the trails along the River Road.
To visit their website, click HERE.
For upcoming events and notices, follow Fort Leaton on facebook. Click HERE to visit their page.
The state park runs along the Rio Grande, which is the border between Texas and Mexico. It’s hard to believe you can camp just feet from another country!
There are plenty of places along the road to stop and walk down to the river, camp and hike. We visited during Thanksgiving, one of the busiest times of the year, and the river was busy with lots of canoes and commercial River Rafting companies giving tours of the river!
Just outside of Lajitas is a stop on the highway with these building for a movie set. Several movies have actually been filmed at this location. We were able to get out and walk around. The building on the right is a restroom.
Before your visit, check the Big Bend Ranch State Park website for upcoming events and tours, but I ALWAYS find it helpful to call and speak with the rangers, who have tours not listed, or may schedule one just for you! Hiking and Mountain bike tours are FREE, while a 4X4 Archeology, Geology and History Tour in the park’s suburban into some of the most remote locations cost $150 for up to 6 people.
Texas Outdoor Family Workshops
If you really want to visit Big Bend Ranch State Park, but are a little intimidated by taking the family for the first time, check out Texas Parks and Wildlife’s wonderful Texas Outdoor Family Workshops offered each Spring and Fall at various state parks! These family-oriented campouts teach basics of camping to more specific activities such as canoeing, fishing, dutch oven cooking and more! Click HERE to visit their website for dates of upcoming events!
Click HERE to follow Texas Outdoor Family on facebook!
More Things to do in the Terlinqua/Big Bend Area
Terlingua isn’t a town, but refers to the region, which includes the Ghost Town, as well as the hamlets of Lajitas and Study Butte. Here is just a few of the things to do….
Big Bend Stables and Lajitas Stables offer 1/2 day, day and even 3 day trips into the Chihuahua Desert! We loved it, and it’s an incredible way to experience Big Bend! Click HERE to read more.
Just past Lajitas and the Big Bend Ranch State Park, the Rio Grande tumbles across the landscape. Far Flung Outdoor Center offers river rafting trips from a 1/2 day to 30 days! They also offer jeep, ATV and hiking tours! Please click HERE to visit their website.
See the pictographs on Indian Head Mountain. Ancient man left his mark all over the mountains of Big Bend, but one of the easiest to see is in Study Butte. Indian Head Mountain road takes you right to the Big Bend National Park boundary (not an entrance), and the pictographs are located right off the road.
Big Bend National Park is huge, and you could spend your entire trip there, and not see a fraction of the park along, much less anything of the rest of the region. There is a restaurant, RV and tent camping, lodging and high-demand cabins. Click HERE to read more.
The Boquillas Border Crossing, in the Big Bend National Park, is a small boat that ferrys you, not your car, across the Rio Grande for $5 a person. You can then take a burro into the Mexican tourist town of Boquillas for lunch and shopping. Passports are required.
Lajitas Golf Resort and RV Park host luxurious rooms, a golf course, restaurant, spa, shops and the only swimming pool I could find in the area! We didn’t have time, but I heard their zipline across the canyon is breathtaking! Click HERE to visit their website.
The River Road, named one of the most scenic drives in the United States, stretches 40 some-odd miles from Lajitas to Presidio. The road curves and dives through the mountains, with plenty of stops along the way for scenic overlooks. It is also the steepest road in Texas, at a 17% incline. After your drive, stop in the Big Bend Ranch State Park store for a souvenir River Road t-shirt.
Ojinaga, Mexico lies just across the border from Presidio, and is not really a border town, but does boast a good restaurant in the plaza. Be sure and take your passports for everyone in your family, you can’t get into Mexico without them, and you can’t get back.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Click HERE to visit their website
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