1900 Sauceda Ranch Road
Marfa, TX 79845
Where is Big Bend Ranch State Park
The state of Texas is enormous! You will find yourself driving hundreds of miles from major cities such as Houston, Dallas or Austin. With that being said, a trip to Big Bend is a perfect reason for a road trip. With El Paso being the closest, large city to the park, you can arrive there in 5 hours on US-67 S. We suggest following a good digital map program to maneuver all of the twists and turns of getting there.
How Big is Big Bend Ranch State Park
Adjacent to Big Bend National Park, this state park boasts 311,000 acres or 486 square miles of Texas wilderness. You will discover 238 miles of managed wildness dedicated to multi-use trails for hiking, horseback riding or biking and 70 miles of unmaintained dirt roads for four-wheel-drive exploration. Big Bend Ranch is so big that visitors will most likely never see it all. That’s the beauty of the experience. The world seems never-ending from your point of view as you explore mile after mile of this unique part of Texas.
Big Bend Ranch State Park Weather
The park is open daily, year-round, and is 2,350 feet above sea level. It is a high desert location no matter the season. Prepare yourself for the extreme summer heat! It is common for temperatures to be above 100°F before noon and can reach an almost unbearable 130°F in direct sun. Temperatures can even remain at dangerous levels after sunset, so come prepared. Water, Water, Water! Lucky for you, visitors can cool off at Madrid Falls, the second highest waterfall in Texas. As many as 48 mammal species have been recorded in the park, so be on the lookout for bats, coyotes, grey foxes, bobcats and jackrabbits. Also, always watch out for poisonous snakes and spiders that could ruin your day.
When did Big Bend Ranch become a State Park
Big Bend Ranch is Texas’ largest state park. Near Mexico, the park sits in a remote and rugged space that has been called El Despoblado, or “The Uninhabited.” Much of this land was owned by ranchers in the early 1900s but had to be sold in the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Ownership changed hands between ranchers and cattle companies until 2007 when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department opened it to the public.
Things to Do at Big Bend Ranch State Park
The unending space offered in the great Texas outdoors frees visitors to explore for days. Visitors to Big Bend Ranch State Park love everything from off-roading to stargazing.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Always use a map on these primitive trails! The one mile, Ojito Adentro Trail has great wildlife viewing. The ¾-mile Cinco Tinajas Trail offers views into a deep canyon. The Puerta Chilicote Trailhead provides access to a 5-mile hike of the west rim of Fresno Canyon and a 3.2-mile loop trail called Cerro Chilicote.
Feel like you are stepping back into the Wild West by riding your horse through this wide and open state park. Horses can be ridden throughout most areas of the park. Agua Adentro Pens is the best starting point for any horseback riding trip.
4 X 4 Touring
There are approximately 70 miles of unmaintained dirt roads in the park. By downloading the ‘Texas roads to nowhere’ guide you can experience all the unending wilderness that Big Bend Ranch State Park has to offer from the comfort of your four-wheel-drive vehicle.
The park offers the best night skies in Texas. It sits directly in the darkest part of the state and the International Dark-Sky Association has designated it a gold tier Dark Sky Park. The best places for viewing include: River Road, West Contrabando Trailhead, Big Hill and the Hoodoos.
Take a day trip on the Rio Grande. Here, visitors can float on a raft, canoe, picnic and fish. There are several river access points along FM 170. Rafting trips for visitors can be easily arranged through local outfitters.
Visitors find their way to Big Bend Ranch Park for the scenery. With its exposed geology, there is so much dramatic scenery to take in. There are also over 300 bird species that live inside the park, hidden within the deep canyons, desert and woodland areas.
Primitive campsites are available for $10-$12 per night inside of the state park. Most sites include a picnic table and a fire ring for visitor use. Please call the park or park information (1-800-792-1112) for the latest updates.
When to go to Big Bend Ranch State Park
Although Big Bend Ranch park is the largest state park in Texas, it is probably the least visited. Big Bend currently only sees only about 2,500 visitors per year, so there is never a time that it is too busy for a visit. The park is open daily, and you will find three offices sprinkled throughout the area where you can chat with a ranger or obtain the most up to date maps of the park. If possible, choose the cooler months of the year to visit for your own safety and pleasure. Park entrance fees are $5 per day for adults and free for children 12 and under.
Must-Haves to Bring to Big Bend Ranch State Park
No matter the season, come prepared with every necessity that will make your Texas outdoor experience a fantastic one. Don’t forget to carry in the following items.
The stars you will experience under the big Texas sky will be breathtaking. You will be in awe at the brightness of the star’s overhead. Pack a star map and flashlight so that you can compare what you are seeing to the constellations and enjoy it even more.
Water is the biggest MUST-bring item for your adventure. Temperatures year-round remain very hot and visitors need to remain hydrated. Bring even more water than you think you will need. You will be glad you did.
You will not find many trash cans throughout the park and Texas wants to keep their state parks clean. If you are eating inside of the park, visitors should bring a biodegradable bag with them to take trash home for disposal.
Depending upon your plans for the day, you will need to bring the correct outdoor gear to assure your stay an enjoyable one. Hiking shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, 4X4’s, and boating/fishing gear are all necessities for a day at the park.
The views are wide and vast, and you don’t want to miss a single one. Wildlife moving through the desert and birds flying overhead are all things you will want to see up close and take a photo of to keep them in your memory forever.
You will need backpacking, camping and river-use permits and hunting and fishing licenses. They can be obtained at the following places: East entrance, near Lajitas: Barton Warnock Visitor Center; West entrance, near Presidio: Fort Leaton State Historic Site; Park’s interior: Sauceda Ranger Station.
Where to stay near Big Bend Ranch State Park
If you choose not to camp at one of the primitive sites which are available inside the park, there are plenty of overnight accommodation options located just 20 minutes from Big Bend Ranch. Three recommendations include the Riata Inn in Presidio, TX, Paisano Village RV Park & Inn in Terlingua, TX, and the Lajita’s Golf Resort at Big Bend National Park. Check out local hotels, Airbnb and VRBO for more options.
Food nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park
Grab donuts at Don Jose Bakery in Presidio, TX, or enjoy a Mexican dinner at El Patio or the Bean Cafe. Being so close to the Mexican border, no doubt you will enjoy this authentic cuisine of the locals. There are no food services within the park, but just a few miles down the road you can find a filling meal after a long day in the outdoors.
Airports near Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park has a large, 5,500-foot paved airstrip available to their guests. Visitors may fly in on their personal airplanes but be sure to call ahead to get up-to-date information and let park staff know when you will be planning to arrive. Contact the visitor’s center at (432) 424-3327.