The Big Bend is home to more unique and interesting options for overnight stays than anywhere in Texas. From tipis and casitas, hotel rooms to lodges, boats (yes, boats!), refurbished mining ruins and Airstream trailers, off-grid adobes and earthbag houses, and even clear bubbles, the choice is yours. As our area has grown in popularity over the recent years, the demand for lodging has increased greatly, offering up an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to open their one-of-a-kind homes for the likes of Airbnb, VRBO, booking.com, and other travel and rental booking sites.
In the desert, we stick together, so we always suggest staying at one of our neighbors’ properties. A quick search on your favorite medium should give you a wide variety of options and price points. From our experience, we’ve learned that the way their search engines work isn’t always the same as the way we would refer to things locally. Searching Big Bend, for instance, would give you options as far away as Terlingua Ranch, which is at least a 30-minute drive from Terlingua proper and about 45 minutes from the BBNP entrance at Maverick Junction. Keep in mind that out here “minutes away” may mean up to 59 minutes, and that’s nothing for someone who lives out here.
As tourism traffic increases, so does the number of options, and most book many weeks to months in advance. Your best bet for getting exactly what you are looking for is to plan ahead and reserve as soon as possible. October through April is typically the busiest season out here, but summers have been busier with each passing year too.
Check out Basecamp Terlingua for tents, tipis, campsites, casitas, and bubbles!
Below, you’ll find a general list of a few of the most well-known lodging options in the area with a website. This list is only intended as a general guideline, and by no means is it a complete list, so don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper in your research because there are a lot of hidden gems. Another great resource if you have more specific questions is to contact the Big Bend Chamber of Commerce via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It should be obvious that tent camping is available in Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, but we’ll say that anyway. If you are heading down here with plans to tent camp, keep in mind that there are many times of the year when all campgrounds at BBNP are full and possibly only backcountry campsites available, which require 4WD to access and much more gear and have no facilities other than a bear box for storing food securely. And that kind of camping isn’t for everyone. Big Bend Ranch State Park is always less crowded and offers many easily accessible campsites, along with many other more difficult-to-access backcountry sites. Permits are required for overnight stays at either park and may be obtained at Panther Junction, the Chisos Basin in BBNP, or at Barton Warnock Visitor Center in BBRSP.
Should you find yourself with nowhere to pitch your tent, you do have options outside the park. It’s also important to mention again that almost all of the land outside of the parks is privately owned and property owners—our neighbors, mind you—do not want to have to tell you that you are trespassing, so don’t. Please resist the urge to throw down in that spot you found on that free campsites website, because I can all but guarantee you that it belongs to someone who really wishes it wasn’t listed there.
There are options though, so don’t head home just yet. Below is a list of some nearby tent camping, most of which is relatively inexpensive, none of which will end you up with an angry property owner pointing a shotgun at you. That is, as long as you mind your manners.
Study Butte RV Park (432) 371-2468
BJ’s RV Park (432) 371-2259
Rancho Topanga Campgrounds (432) 371-2131
The Goat Pens at Cigar Springs Ranch (432) 371-2242
Retro Rents (432) 294-4574
Lost Gringos RV Park (432) 371-2111