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How to get from San Antonio to Big Bend National park – [2022 guide]

Texas is full of surprises and one of my favorites is Big bend national park. This national park is one of the most famous in the US and thankfully the road trip from San Antonio to big bend national park is an adventure on its own.

Follow my itinerary that includes all of your must-stops on the road trip as well as a few different routes you can take.

The drive is less than six hours straight through, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the park and its many hiking trails, rivers, and canyons.

And, if you’re looking to extend your trip, there are plenty of options for camping, lodging, and activities in the area.

Big Bend National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country, and for good reason. It’s home to a variety of landscapes, including mountains, canyons, and desert vistas.

Hiking through the park is a must-do activity, as there are many scenic trails to explore with stunning views of the Texas landscape.

Whether you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life or simply want to explore all that Texas has to offer, a road trip from San Antonio to Big Bend National Park is the perfect way to do it. So pack up your car and start exploring this beautiful and diverse region of the country today!

Big Bend National Park
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

How to get from San Antonio to Big Bend National park

What is Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park is a national park located in Texas that features mountains, canyons, and desert vistas. The park is home to a variety of landscapes, making it a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.

Additionally, the park offers swimming and canoeing in the Rio Grande River, as well as many other activities.

Big Bend Park is the biggest national park in Texas and one of the most popular destinations for those wanting to explore the Lone Star State.

There’s plenty to see and do in the park, from hiking and camping to swimming and canoeing.

The drive to the park is also scenic, so it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.

Huston to Big Bend National Park road trip itinerary

Traveling from San Antonio to Big Bend

If you’re planning a road trip from San Antonio to Big Bend National Park, there are a few things you should know.

✔️ First, the park is located in a remote area, so it’s important to be prepared for your journey. Make sure you have plenty of food and water, and that your vehicle is in good condition.

✔️ Additionally, the park is open year-round, but some activities and amenities are only available seasonally. Be sure to check the park’s website for more information before you go.

✔️ Starting your journey in San Antonio is perfect for anyone who is looking to make an adventure out of traveling to Big Bend as there is so much to see and do in San Antonio that it will really kick start your journey.

✔️ San Antonio, Texas is a city rich in history and culture. There are plenty of things to do and see in this vibrant city, from visiting the Alamo to exploring the River Walk.

San Antonio is also home to a variety of museums and cultural centers, making it the perfect destination for those who want to learn more about the city’s storied past.

BIG Bend National park
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Where is Big Bend National Park Located and How to get there?

Big Bend is located in the Southwest of Texas, in a remote area near the Texas-Mexico border. To get from San Antonio to Big Bend National Park, you can take either Highway 90 or I-10.

Highway 90, which runs along the Rio Grande River and through some of the most scenic landscapes in Texas. Or for a quicker route with fewer landmarks you can take i10.

Whether you take the short I-10 route or the long US-90 trek both of the routes will give you stunning views as well as plenty of stops to stretch your legs, have a nice picnic, or just enjoy the beauty.

Be sure to plan ahead and book any accommodations you may need in advance, as spaces can fill up quickly during the high season.

Exact Time & Distance:

I-10 – 5 hrs 49 mins, 413 miles

US-90 – 5 hrs 50 mins, 371 miles

Huston to Big Ben national park in the fall
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

The best time to visit Big Bend National Park

The park is open year-round, but some of the amenities and activities are only available during certain seasons check the park’s website here to make sure what you want for your trip is available.

The best time to visit Big Bend National Park is during the spring or fall when the weather is milder, however, this is when Big Bend has a lot of visitors so plan to be around other people as well as book any accommodation you might need in advance to ensure your spot.

If you are traveling to Texas in the summer be mindful of the weather. It can be incredibly hot in July and August with temperatures reaching over 100 F during the day. Bring a lot of water and plenty of sunscreen!

While Texas is generally quite warm even in the winter the nights can get below freezing in the canyon making it uncomfortable to camp.

The desert is lovely during this time of year but be prepared for cooler weather if you are planning on spending any time in the Chisos Mountains.

Big Bend National Park overview
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Must-stops on your road trip to Big Bend using I-10

If you choose the shorter route of I-10 you will be able to see the beautiful rolling hill of the Texas Hill Country, this area is becoming very popular among wine enthusiasts as well as people who love to be in nature.

There are plenty of places to stop along the way to take in the views, go for a hike or even enjoy some wine tasting.

Some of my favorite places to stop are:

1. Boerne

A small town right outside of San Antonio with a big German heritage, great food and culture. Boerne has so many cute cafes on the square that it is a great stop for a quick coffee and some boutique shopping.

2. Fredricksburg

This is a charming German town with plenty of shops, restaurants, wineries, and breweries to explore. It is about 20 minutes off route but well worth it if you have the time. Weekends in Fredericksburg are filled with travelers and plenty of farmers’ markets for you to enjoy.

Grab a bed and breakfast and make a weekend out of it.

Frederiksburg memorial library

The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – This is a large granite dome located outside of Fredericksburg and a must-see if you stay in the area. It’s a great place for hiking or just enjoying the views.

Enchanted rock is Texas’s second-largest granite dome rock and is as magical as it sounds.

Stop at one of the many wineries or breweries along the route – Texas has incredible wine and craft beer scene, plus a lot of these small businesses have some of the best food trucks in their parking lots so you can grab dinner while enjoying your drink.

3. Austin

Austin is a little bit out of the way if you are taking either highway but as the capital of Texas, it’s a must-stop on any Texas road trip. Home to some of the best BBQ, live music, and plenty of activities to keep you busy for days.

Some of my favorite places to go in Austin are south of the city’s downtown, including:

  • South Congress Avenue – One of my favorite spots in the city with lots of boutique shops, food trucks, and a big music scene.
  • Zilker Park – A great park located on the edge of town that is a great place to go for a walk or bring your BBQ picnic basket to enjoy a meal.
  • Rainey Street – A neighborhood filled with bars, food trucks and a great place to go for dinner after a night out.
Austin Texas Capitol
Also read: What to do in Austin when it rains

4. Junction

The town of Junction is a great place to stop for the night, it has plenty of places to stay as well as some inspiring scenery for your journey.

There are also locally owned shops and museums if you want to learn more about this historic small Texan city.

For art enthusiasts, there are several mural paintings and galleries in the area, rent a bike and explore this little Texas town.

5. Sonora

The town of Sonora has a rich Hispanic heritage and is home to the last remaining tinajas in Texas. These are large clay jars used by cowboys on early cattle drives to store their water.

There is also plenty of local Native American history as well as a few museums with exhibits on actual pieces from the area dating back thousands of years.

The town has a few small parks, but the real beauty is in the surrounding countryside.

The Caverns of Sonora are a great place to stop to stretch your legs and explore. The caverns are a popular tourist destination because of their many attractions.

The caverns have natural stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and soda straws, take a tour and visit the caves and limestone formations.

Big Bend National Park
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Must stop on your road trip to Big Bend using US-90

If you choose the longer route of US-90, you will be able to pass through some of Texas’ most beautiful landscapes including desert and canyons as well as several rivers and lakes.

Keep your eyes peeled for these must-see stops:

6. Uvalde

The first thing you’ll notice when driving into Uvalde is the gorgeous landscapes. This small town is located in the Texas Hill Country and is known for its hunting and fishing.

The Leona River runs through Uvalde and there are several parks where you can enjoy the views or go for a swim. If you’re looking for a place to stay for the night, there are several bed and breakfasts as well as RV parks.

7. Del Rio

The next stop on your road trip is Del Rio, a city located on the banks of the Rio Grande. This city is known for its beautiful landscapes and tasty Tex-Mex cuisine.

Stop for a margarita and authentic tacos and explore the area by hiking, biking, or camping.

Del Rio is also home to the Amistad Dam, which you can tour, and the Val Verde Winery, where you can taste some of the local wines.

8. Comstock

Comstock is a small town located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. This town is known for its hunting and fishing, but there are also plenty of unique places to visit.

The Pioneer Museum has collections of local artifacts and the landmark Masonic Lodge is a historic structure built in 1860 that you won’t want to miss.

9. Marfa

Last but not least is Marfa, a town located in the high desert of West Texas. This town is home to the famous Marfa Lights, which have been seen by locals and visitors for years.

There are also several art galleries and installations throughout the town, as well as the historic El Cosmico hotel. Stay in an airstream or on warmer nights the teepees are perfect.

Davis mountains road

10. The Davis Mountains

Just outside of Marfa are the Davis Mountains, which offer some of the best hiking and camping in the area.

There are also several observatories located in the mountains, making it a great place to stargaze. Be sure to check out McDonald Observatory and Fort Davis National Historic Site while you’re in the area.

Davis Mountains

11. Big Bend National Park

This is the ultimate destination of your road trip! Big Bend is home to stunning views, hiking trails, camping, and so much more.

There are three different routes you can take to get to Big Bend National Park, but we recommend taking the longer scenic route through Alpine for its incredible views.

The first part of the drive is along the Rio Grande River. This part of the country is hot and dry, but you will be able to see some wildlife like javelinas, coyotes, and even bears along the way.

Once you get into Alpine there are a few different routes that can lead you directly to Big Bend. One of our favorites is driving through Castolon which takes you right along the Santa Elena Canyon. This is one of the most popular places in Big Bend.

Big Bend National Park is huge, so I recommend spending a few days exploring this area. There are plenty of campsites and backcountry areas if you really want to get in touch with nature.

Big Bend has some of the best stargazing in the country, so be sure to take some time to enjoy the night sky! There is so much to see and do in Big Bend National Park that you’ll need to make multiple trips to see it all.

Big Bend National Park road
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Things to see near Big Bend National Park

There are many things to see near Big Bend National Park, from historic sites and small towns to natural wonders and outdoor adventures. Some of the top attractions include:

Terlingua Ghost Town

A tiny ghost town located just a few miles from the park, Terlingua is a great place for exploring abandoned buildings and learning more about the area’s history and folklore.

Terlingua also has some really cool accommodations that are worth checking out! You can sleep in a bubble under the stars and maybe even see some extraterrestrial sightings!

BASE CAMP TERLINGUA
Terlingua

Santa Elena Canyon

Located in the heart of Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most popular places to visit. The canyon walls are 1500 feet high and the views are breathtaking.

There are plenty of hiking trails in this area as well as a few ranger-led programs.

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is a river that runs along the border of the United States and Mexico. The river is known for its incredible scenery and wildlife, so be sure to take some time to enjoy it while you’re in Big Bend.

Chisos Mountains

The Chisos Mountains are the tallest mountains in Big Bend National Park and offer incredible views of the surrounding desert.

There are several hiking trails and campgrounds located in the mountains, making it a great place to explore for a day or two.

Santa Elena Canyon
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

San Antonio to Big Bend National Park Roadtrip suggestions

San Antonio to Big Bend National Park 7-Day Itinerary

  • 1 day in San Antonio and Boerne
  • 2 days in Fredericksburg
  • 1 day in Sonora
  • 3 days in Big Bend

San Antonio to Big Bend National Park 10-Day Itinerary

  • 2 days in San Antonio
  • 1 day in Austin
  • 1 day in Fredericksburg
  • 1 day in Marfa
  • 4 days in Big Bend
  • 1 day in Terlingua

San Antonio to Big Bend National Park 2 Week Itinerary

  • 2 days in San Antonio
  • 2 days in Austin
  • 1 day in Del Rio
  • 2 days in Marfa/Alpine
  • 5 days in Big Bend
  • 1 Day in Terlingua
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Where to stay in Big Bend National Park

Big bend national park cabins

You will find quite a few cabins available for rent near Big Bend National Park. Starting at $80 per night these cabins can hold up to 6 people.

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

santa elena canyon

Campsites in Big Bend National Park

For on-site accommodation, you will find four campgrounds in Big Bend National Park. The National Park Service has three developed front country campsites that have drinking water and toilet facilities available to travelers.

If you are traveling with your RV you can head to The park concessions, Forever Resorts. One of the only areas that run a complete hookup RV camping location.

If you are planning to backpack the park you will find plenty of trails that are accessible to you as you hike 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.

SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

What to Pack for Big Bend National Park

No matter if you decide to visit Big Bend National Park in the high or low season, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreens, hiking shoes, and something to shield your eyes from the sun.

This is one of the largest parks in the US, so you’ll want to be prepared for a lot of walking. In the summer months, temperatures can get extremely hot in Texas, so I recommend packing light, airy clothing and plenty of water.

If you’re planning on camping in the park vs grabbing a hotel room, be sure to pack your tent, sleeping bag, and all the other necessary items you might need.

Santa elena
SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

San Antonio to Big Bend National Park itinerary FAQ

Is Big Bend worth the trip?

This is what I believe to be one of the most impressive places in Texas! There’s nothing quite like it in Texas or really anywhere else in the world. Yes, it takes a long time to get there, but once you’ve seen the breathtaking views and breathed in some fresh air you will be so thankful for the journey.

How many hours of drive is it from San Antonio to Big Bend National Park?

The amount of time will depend on the stops you make along the way and which route you take.

I-10 – 5 hrs 49 mins, 413 miles

US-90 – 5 hrs 50 mins, 371 miles

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

Depending on what you want to see and if you are camping or just driving through will really depend on how long you need. For the average traveler, 3-4 days is enough time to explore the highlights of big bend.

However, if you want to hike some of the more challenging routes and backpack the National park, I would plan for 5-7 days.

SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

Final thoughts on San Antonio to Big Bend Itinerary

With so many options on this itinerary, it is important to give yourself a few more days than you think you will need in case you decide to explore a bit more on your way to Big Bend national park.

Once you have arrived you can really estimate how many days you want to spend in the park… it’s going to be more than you planned… trust me!

I hope you enjoy this article and your road trip from San Antonio to big bend national park.