Big Bend National Park Operating Hours & Seasons

The Rio Grande, separating Mexico from the U.S...

The Rio Grande, separating Mexico from the U.S., within the massive 1,500 foot high walls of Santa Elena Canyon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Big Bend National Park is open all year, well, it would be difficult to close somewhere as big and remote as Big Bend National Park, however, the entrance fee stations do have variable seasons, and variable hours.

Big Bend Visitor Centers

  • Panther Junction – is open every day between the hours of 8am and 6pm, although there are reduced hours on Christmas day . . . . give ’em a break, even park rangers need a couple of extra hours at Christmas time. The Panther Junction visitor center is at the park headquarters and is really the best location to start your visit. At the Panther Junction visitor center complex there are public restrooms, you can fill up your personal water containers, you can, you can get backcountry and river permits here, plus there’s a gas station close by which also has a selection of groceries.
  • Chisos Basin – is open everyday between 8.30am and 4pm, but it does close for lunch and again, has reduced opening hours on Christmas day. This visitor center is located in the Basin developed area close to the parking lot. You can get your backcountry permits here during normal hours, there’s somewhere to fill up your water containers plus restrooms etc.
  • Castolon – is open between 10am and 5pm from November through to April, although it does close for lunch. It’s located in the La Harmonia store building.
  • Persimmon Gap – is open between 9am and 4pm November through April, plus additional months if possible. This Big Bend National Park visitor center also closes for lunch. This visitor center can be found at the north entrance to the Big Bend National Park. There’s a picnic area and pit toilets are located around a quarter of a mile south of this entrance station.
  • Rio Grande Village – is also open November through April, 8.30 – 4pm except at lunchtime. This visitor center is located a quarter of a mile north of the Rio Grande Village developed area. There are lots of facilities available during opening hours, including public phone, restrooms and a water faucet for the filling of personal containers.

Big Bend Busy Times

As you may have gathered from the visitors centers, Big Bend National Park is busiest during the months of November through April. Now, somewhere so big is never really crowded but does get pretty busy for around 6 weeks of the year, namely Thanksgiving week, during the Christmas holidays and spring break. If you want to camp during those times then you’re advised to make a reservation, (more details on our reservations page). Visitation is at its lowest during August and September when it’s just too darned hot!

I know the intro goes on a bit, but stick with it . . . it’s worth it in the end.

Big Bend National Park is very big, and it’s very remote, and many visitors maybe underestimate their distances and arrive after opening hours after a very long drive – although the park entrances are always open it might be that the entrance fee stations are not, but don’ worry about that, you can simply pay your entrance fees the following day at any of the open visitor centers. Alternatively there’s an automatic fee machine at Panther Junction Visitor Center, where you can pay after hours using your credit card.

Great video of a truly great place – loved it!

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