Big Bend National Park is still one of my favorite National Parks in the U.S. for many reasons. One of them being just how many things you can do while you are visiting and how many of these things are normally completely vacant. During my last visit to Big Bend we mostly saw just a handful of hikers during our entire stay and where able to enjoy one of the biggest parks iin the lower 48 in complete peace.
The Hot Springs are a must do hike while you are visiting the park since the trail is quite short and covered in history of the original settlers of the region. Depending where in the park you are staying the drive could be quite a journey, remember this is one of the biggest parks in the lower 48. We stayed at the Chisos Basin Lodge during our time at Big Bend which meant about a 45-60 minute drive to the Hot Springs Trail Head.
The Hot Springs Trail Head is right near the border of Texas and Mexico and just a few miles from the Boquillas crossing at Big Bend. For those wanting to cross into Mexico at the Rio Grande and Boquillas border make sure you have your passport and some cash. We ran out of time and couldnt cross the border ath Boquillas but have heard its a fun time.
The drive to the Hot Springs Trail Head is rather simple but I highly recommend to pick up a paper map before getting to the park or at least at the Ranger Station. Cell service is pretty much non-existent in the park and relying on Google Maps or phone based navigation is not ideal. The roads are relatively clearly marked and there are not a lot of ways to get lost.
One thing that took us by surprise is the fact that the last mile or so of the drive to the trail head is on unpaved dirt road but it was very well maintained and any sedan could easily make it. What I will say is the drive from Chisos to the turn off and the dirt road where two of my favorite drives in the entire trip. I also HIGHLY recommend the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, it was one for the books.
Once you arrive at the trail head it is a pretty simple dirt parking lot with a pit toilet located right before you cross a small bridge onto the trail. It was shockingly very clean for being stuck in the middle of no where but with the low visitation rate in the summer, I doubt it gets much use.
From the trail head it is a quick .5 mile to the hot springs which comes out to a brisk 1 mile loop. Now depending on the time of year make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and water since at the low elevation the heat and sun where brutal.
The interesting part of the walk to the hot springs was seeing old buildings built from when people first came through these parts. We saw post offices and stores that helped sustain farmers and miners in the area. There is also plenty of wall rock art along the trail to keep you guessing what it all meant.
After getting a big dose of history, you should arrive at the hot springs ready for your feet to take a dip in the nice soothing waters of the natural tubs. The waters are considered old water, fossil water, ancient and irreplaceable. It is heated by geothermal processes which produces water around 105 degrees farenheit. Now due to the heat we just dipped our legs in and after the South Rim Trail hike our legs definitely where happy about it.
We only ran into two other people while out at the Hot Springs who where extremely nice and where actually jumping from the hot springs to the frigid Rio Grande water having a blast!
I could not recommend the hot springs enough and with it being such an easy hike it should be on everyones radar for visting the park. If you are visiting the park during the colder months I could imagine it would be amazing to take a full dip in the hot water and enjoy a nice sun set out in the desert.
Have you been to Big Bend National Park? Any favorite stops? Any must do!? Leave it in the comments 🙂
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