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From Houston to Big Bend National Park: an epic road trip [2022]

Planning a road trip from Houston to Big Bend National Park? This epic itinerary will include all the must-see pit stops on your drive and practical information that you should know before hitting the road!

Big Bend is a National treasure in the US and we are lucky to have the park in the great state of Texas!

While looking at a map of Texas it might look like the park is off in the middle of nowhere and seems so far from everything.

And while that may be true, in this post I will show you the best itinerary to make the most of your trip.

From remembering the Alamo to glamping in Marfa or Terlingua, this journey through Texas has something for every kind of traveler. As they say, it is not always the destination but the journey.

So load up the car, and let’s journey from Houston Texas to Big Bend!

Huston to Big Bend National Park road trip itinerary

Do I need travel insurance? Yes, you do!
Among all the multiple reasons why you should get travel insurance, is the peace of mind it gives you! Knowing that whatever happens, from medical emergencies to lost bags, canceled flights, theft, and more, your bills are taken care of. I have been using two different ones, SafetyWing and World Nomads depending on the kind of traveling I was doing. For the more adventurous ones, which included hiking and scuba-diving, World nomads has got you covered, for a more tranquil trip SafetyWing would do the job and it’s cheaper. But don’t just take my words. Make sure you read all the included coverage and policy details to find out what’s the right policy for you.

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

What is Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park is a national park located in Texas, United States. The park covers an area of 801,163 acres and includes the Chisos Mountains, the largest mountain range in the park.

The park is home to various animals including deer, coyotes, javelinas, and bobcats. There are also more than 450 species of birds in the park.

Many people come to Big Bend to backpack, camp, hike, and mountain bike. With so many different types of terrain in the park, there is something for everyone.

Big Bend National Park sunrise

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Where is Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas.

The distance between Huston and Big Bend is 477 miles and the route is spectacular, perfect for an epic road trip!

There are three main ways to get there: by car, by plane, or by bus.

Driving from Houston to Big Bend National Park

The most direct route from Houston to Big Bend National Park is via I-10 West. From downtown Houston, take I-10 West towards San Antonio.

After reaching San Antonio you will be directed to US 90 West which is where you will spend the majority of the rest of your drive.

Big Bend National Park road

The drive from Houston to Big Bend National Park takes approximately 9 hours in total.

A road trip from Houston to the National Park is definitely the preferred option if you have time because it will allow you to make a few interesting stops along the way and in this post, we will focus on that.

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Flying from Houston to Big Bend National Park

The closest airport to Big Bend National Park is Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, which is about an hour away from the park.

There are no direct flights from Houston to Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, but there are several connecting flights available via major airlines such as American, United, and Delta.

The total travel time from Houston to Big Bend National Park is approximately 5-6 hours.

With this option you will miss seeing San Antonio and Austin, but will still be able to venture in the West of Texas to Marfa, Alpine, and Terlingua should you want to!

Having said that, it’s clear that a road trip from Houston to Big Bend National Park is still the best option if you are based in the city of course.

Big Bend National Park overview

Taking the Bus from Houston to Big Bend National Park

There is one bus company that offers service from Houston to Big Bend National Park: Greyhound. The Greyhound bus station is located in downtown Houston, and the journey to Alpine, TX takes about 8 hours.

From Alpine, you will need to take a taxi or ride-sharing service to the park entrance, which is about 30 minutes away.

The total travel time from Houston to Big Bend National Park is approximately 8-9 hours.

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Best time to visit Big Bend National Park

The best time to visit Big Bend National Park is between the months of November and April when the weather is cooler and more bearable.

The park is open year-round, but summers can be extremely hot, with temperatures often reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The park is the most popular in March and April when the weather is still cool but the winter cold has left the building. So expect a lot of crowds and start your planning early should you decide to stay at a camping spot in the park!

Keep in mind that Texas is known for being rather warm during the winter but it can get below freezing at night and a tent will likely not be comfortable!

Big Bend National park

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Houston to Big Bend National Park road trip

The best way to see Texas is to drive it! 9 hours in a car seems almost unbearable but with so many things to see along the way, it will make a spectacular road trip!

Essential Stops on Houston to Big Bend National Park Road Trip via I-10 & US-90 West

Strap on your seat belt and check out these fun cities on your way from Houston to Big Bend!

1. San Antonio

One of my favorite cities in the US is the Alamo city. Stop in San Antonio for a taste of Tex-Mex cuisine and to explore The Alamo. You could spend just an afternoon in San Antonio or make a whole weekend out of it depending on your time.

▶️ Also read: 59 Amazing Things to do in San Antonio Texas

The Alamo San Antonio texas

2. Austin

Spend a day or two in Austin to experience the city’s live music scene and visit the State Capitol. Austin is out of the way if you are wanting to get to Big Bend as quickly as possible but I think it is worth the detour!

It is only an hour and 1/2 from San Antonio with plenty of things for a solo traveler to do and see!

▶️ Also read – What to do in Austin when it rains

Austin Texas Capitol

3. Fredericksburg

This German-influenced town is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat and some shopping.

If you are a big history buff check out the National Museum of the Pacific War. If you have time, spend a morning hiking Enchanted rock, just about 17 miles outside of Fredericksburg!

▶️ Also read – 35 things to do in Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg historcy district
Photo © Wiki Commons

4. Johnson City

Take a break from driving in Johnson City and check out Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home and the LBJ Ranch.

5. Marfa

This small town is home to the Marfa Lights, which are unexplained glowing orbs that can be seen in the night sky.

Marfa is also a mecca for art lovers with several galleries and installations throughout the town.

Stay in a luxury Tee Pee at El Cosmico or glam it up at Hotel Paisano.

Road in Marfa Texas
Road in Marfa Texas

6. Terlingua

This former mining town is now a ghost town and home to the Terlingua Chili Championship. S

top in for some authentic Texas cuisine at the iconic Starlight theater, an old movie theater originally built to entertain miners after their hard work and then transformed into an eclectic Texas eatery offering live music amid funky decor.

It is only about a 13-minute drive from the park making it an easy stop on your way out of Big Bend.

Spend the night under the stars in a bubble tent at Basecamp Terlingua.

BASE CAMP TERLINGUA
Terlingua base Camp Bubble tent

7. Alpine

The gateway to Big Bend National Park, Alpine is the last stop before you reach the park. You could spend a night here to rest up before exploring the park.

And finally, you reach your destination! Big Bend National Park!

As you enter the park, be prepared for an otherworldly experience. The park is vast and remote and feels like a different world entirely.

There are three main areas to explore in the park:

  • the Chisos Mountains,
  • the Rio Grande,
  • the Chihuahuan Desert.

The Chisos Mountains are the centerpiece of the park and offer stunning views and a variety of hiking trails.

The Rio Grande runs through the park and is a great place to cool off on a hot day. The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in North America and offers a unique landscape that is unlike anything else.

Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long adventure, Big Bend National Park is the perfect place to explore the great outdoors.

Big Bend National park Stargaze

Houston to Big bend national park road trip suggestions:

7 Days route

  • 2 days in San Antonio
  • 1 day in Austin
  • 1 day in Marfa
  • 3 days in Big Bend

10 Days route

  • 2 days in San Antonio
  • 2 days in Austin
  • 1 day in Fredericksburg
  • 1 day in Marfa
  • 1 day in Alpine
  • 3 days in Big Bend

14 days route

  • 2 days in San Antonio
  • 2 days in Austin
  • 1 day in Fredericksburg
  • 2 days in Marfa
  • 1 day in Alpine
  • 5 days in Big Bend
  • 1 day in Terlingua
Big Bend National park Chihuahua Desert

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Flying nonstop from Houston to Big Bend National Park

If you are short on time and want to spend most of your time in Big Bend, flying might be the best option for you!

There are no nonstop flights from Houston to Big Bend National Park, but there are a few connecting flights that make the trip in under 5 hours. Fly into Alpine airport through a connecting flight and it is a quick hour drive to the park.

Another option to get from Houston to Big Bend National Park is by flying into Midland/Odessa Airport (MAF) and renting a car for the 3-hour drive to the park.

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HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Things to see near Big Bend National Park

There are plenty of things to see and do near Big Bend National Park. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Visit the Rio Grande River

The Rio Grande is one of the most popular attractions in the park. You can go rafting, canoeing, kayaking, or just take a scenic hike along the river.

👉 Want to kayak in the Rio Grande River? Book your tour in advance on VIATOR

Big Bend National park

2. Go on a safari

The park is home to many different species of animals, including bighorn sheep, javelinas, and deer. You can go on a safari with one of the many tour companies that operate in the area.

3. Visit the Chisos Mountains

The Chisos Mountains are the tallest mountains in the park and offer stunning views of the surrounding area. You can hike or take a scenic drive to the top of the mountains.

BIG Bend National park

4. Go stargazing:

Big Bend National Park is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. The clear night skies offer amazing views of the stars and planets. You can go on a guided stargazing tour, or just set up a telescope at your campsite.

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Where to stay in Big Bend National Park

Big bend national park cabins

There are several cabins available for rent near Big Bend National Park. Cabin prices start at $80 per night and can accommodate up to 6 people.

Some of the best cabin rental companies near Big Bend National Park include:

Campsites in Big Bend National Park

There are four campgrounds in Big Bend National Park. The National Park Service operates three developed front country campsites with drinking water and toilet facilities.

The park concessions, Forever Resorts, also run a complete hookup RV camping location.

If you are looking to backpack the park you are in luck, there are plenty of trails that are accessible to you as your make your way through the park. You will need to establish a backcountry permit to do so.

Check out all the requirements and regulations on The Big Bend National Park website.

Big Bend National Park road

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

What to pack for Big Bend National park

No matter what time of year you visit Big Bend National Park, be sure to pack plenty of eco-friendly sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as well as comfortable hiking shoes.

The park is huge, so you’ll want to be prepared for a lot of walking. In the summer months, temperatures can get quite hot, so it’s also a good idea to pack light, airy clothing and plenty of water.

Many people hike longer routes that require them to set up camp for the night, but there are also shorter day hikes available.

If you’re planning on doing any camping, be sure to pack a tent, sleeping bag, and all the other necessary gear.

Huston to Big Ben national park in the fall

HOUSTON TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Huston to Big Bend National Park itinerary FAQ

Is Big Bend worth the trip?

100%!!! I can’t speak highly enough of Big Bend National Park! It does take a long time to get to but once you take in the fresh mountain air and see the incredible views it will all be worth it! It is truly one of the most unique national parks in the United States!

How many hours drive is it from Houston to Big Bend National Park?

It is 9 hours without any stops! 442 miles.

How many days do you need to see Big Bend National Park?

This really depends on what you want to see and do while in the park. For most people, 3-4 days is plenty of time to explore the main attractions. However, if you want to do some backpacking or longer hikes, you may want to plan for 5-7 days.

Big Bend National Park

Final thoughts on Houston to Big Bend Itinerary

We hope you have found a lot of takeaways in this post. The most important information that stands out is that it is definitely worth it to plan some extra days and take the above-mentioned route from Houston to Big Bend.

The itinerary is packed with so many amazing places to see along the way and ends with a bang at the Big Bend National park.

Happy travels!

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