Texas Hiking – Big Bend National Park & Beyond – Lodge Based

Trip Length6 Days
Group Size4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$3,499 for REI Members
$3,799 for non-members
DeparturesOct 2023-Dec 2024

Hike Texas’s Big Bend National Park with REI’s expert guides and discover the best of the park and surrounding Trans-Pecos region!

Located in the southwestern corner of Texas, the Big Bend has long enchanted those seeking adventure in the unspoiled West, where breathtaking mountains, dramatic river canyons and vast expanses of Chihuahuan Desert all combine into one uniquely diverse ecological wonderland. Brimming with geologic and ancient cultural history, and an astounding number of plant, bird, and animal species, Big Bend National Park is one of the largest and most remote parks in the lower 48, making it the perfect escape for anyone seeking peaceful isolation from life’s daily hustle and bustle.

Our journey begins and ends in the magnificent border city of El Paso. Enroute, we travel the Texas Mountain Trail, viewing landscapes much as the Apache, Comanche and early ranchers saw them, all while exploring some of the region’s most iconic towns – Fort Davis, Alpine, Terlingua, and Marfa. Every day we arise to a new and different hike, carefully curated from the amazing variety of trails throughout the Big Bend. Each night is spent in distinctively Texan accommodations, from gorgeous historic hotels, to a ghost town retreat, to a park lodge nestled high in the Chisos Mountains.

Explore a slot canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Trip Highlights

  • Hike the South Rim Trail, the Window Trail, Santa Elena Canyon, and other iconic Big Bend Trails
  • Descend from the “sky island” of the Chisos Mountains down to the Chihuahuan Desert floor
  • Hike in Big Bend Ranch State Park and enjoy the Camino del Rio, the most scenic drive in Texas
  • View ancient rock art at Indian Head and modern art by Donald Judd in Marfa
  • Stargaze in the Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve, the world’s largest Dark Sky Place


This trip is rated Moderate [3]. You should be capable of hiking with a daypack up to 12 miles with elevation gains/losses of up to 2,100'. Trails are composed of packed dirt, sand, large and/or loose rocks, with some steep sections and exposed overlooks. Trip members should have some previous hiking experience and be in good physical condition. You should be capable of hiking up to 8 hours a day for 5 consecutive days.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Lodging and meals as indicated on the daily itinerary; transportation to the start/end of the trip in El Paso, Texas; park entrance fees.


Historic Texas hotels: 3 nights; Mountain lodge: 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Texas Hiking – Big Bend National Park & Beyond – Lodge Based

2024 Accommodations:

Please note that four nights will be spent in Terlingua for the 2024 season due to the anticipated closures in the Chisos Basin area including the lodge. Please contact us for an updated itinerary.

Day 1

Hike Fort Davis National Historic Site and explore Alpine, Texas

Our adventure begins in the multi-cultural border city of El Paso. Following introductions, we begin the three-hour journey to our first hike at the Fort Davis National Historic Site. The park is one of the finest examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest with trails that offer sweeping panoramic views of the Fort and nearby Davis Mountains. During our visit we’ll learn how the fort served as a key military encampment during western expansion and hear stories about legendary residents such as the Buffalo Soldiers. We then continue to Alpine, the Gateway to the Big Bend. There is time for a stroll through town or to relax at our lodgings, the historic Holland Hotel, before we gather for dinner. Lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: 2.5-3 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 320’; Transfers: 3.5 hours.

Day 2

Hike in Big Bend National Park and experience the Chisos Basin

We set out for Big Bend National Park and our first hike at Persimmon Gap Draw. This often-overlooked treasure features outstanding views of the oldest exposed geology in the park. We visit the park’s Fossil Bone Exhibit, which celebrates 120 million years of paleontological history, and the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Our afternoon hike climbs through Panther Pass to the Lost Mine Trailhead where we take in spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains. We spend the next two nights at Chisos Mountains Lodge, nestled inside the mile-high Chisos Basin, completely encircled by towering pinnacles of volcanic origin. Big Bend is internationally recognized as a Dark Sky Park, so we take time in the evenings to stargaze. All meals included.

Hiking 6.8 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 1,300’; Transfers: 2 hours.

Day 3

Discover the diversity and history of the South Rim Trail

Today we discover the most famous hike in all of Texas: the South Rim Trail. The biological diversity and geologic history add to the grandeur of the Chisos—a true “sky island” surrounded by an ‘ocean’ of Chihuahuan Desert. This is the only mountain range in the U.S. which is fully contained within the boundaries of a national park. Throughout the day we are rewarded with countless dramatic viewpoints, including those from the South Rim which spans miles into the distant Sierra del Carmen Mountains of Mexico and thousands of feet below to the Chihuahuan Desert floor. Returning to our lodge, we dine and take time for stargazing. All meals included.

Hiking up to 12 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 2,000’.

Day 4

Mountains, desert and river ecosystems of Big Bend

Today we experience a “triple treat” and explore Big Bend’s mountains, desert and river ecosystems - all in one day. We begin hiking on the Window Trail, which descends through a canyon sandwiched between majestic mountain peaks. Photo opportunities abound as we make our way out of the Chisos Basin and onto the desert floor via the picturesque Oak Springs Trail. Utilizing a trail not found on maps, we picnic under the shady trees of a desert oasis. Next, we take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Santa Elena Canyon. A short hike showcases sheer limestone walls that tower 1500’ above both sides of the Rio Grande River. The day ends at our accommodation in the ghost town of Terlingua. All meals included.

Hiking up to 10 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 740’ elevation gain and 2,100’ elevation loss; Transfers: 1.5 hours.

Day 5

Hike the Mesa de Anguila and Big Bend Ranch State Park

The Mesa de Anguila Trail is a hidden gem seldom explored by visitors to Big Bend National Park. The mesa sits high atop Santa Elena Canyon and marks the western border of the park. Our hike provides fantastic views of the bends of the Rio Grande, a brilliant example of how the park got its name. We visit the Barton Warnock Center to learn more about the region’s incredible natural history, and then drive along the Camino del Rio. The road twists and winds with the Rio Grande, crossing arroyos, climbing mountains, and hugging canyon walls. Reaching Big Bend Ranch State Park, we discover the beauty and diversity of this massive 311,000 acre park. Returning to Terlingua, there is free time to explore the Ghost Town before we gather for a farewell dinner at the iconic Starlight Theatre. All meals included.

Hiking 6 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 900’; Transfers: 1.5 hours.

Day 6

Explore ancient rock art at Indian Head and modern art in Marfa before returning to El Paso

This morning we begin our return journey to El Paso, but not before we explore another secret treasure of Big Bend National Park on our hike at Indian Head Mountain. Marvel at ancient petroglyphs, pictographs, and other remnants of the Big Bend’s early inhabitants, hidden amongst the mountain’s striking volcanic formations. Then we travel the Texas Mountain Trail back through Alpine to Marfa for a scrumptious lunch at a favorite eatery. Afterwards, discover the iconic cultural phenomena that is Marfa itself – where West Texas ranching life and modern art collide – on a walking tour at the world famous Chinati Foundation. There you can witness the minimalist art of Donald Judd and other well-known international artists. We anticipate arriving back to El Paso by late afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking 3 miles, Walking 1.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 70’; Transfers: 5 hours.

Itinerary map for Texas Hiking – Big Bend National Park & Beyond – Lodge Based

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation. This gear list is provided to help you in choosing your equipment and clothing for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary.

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REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.