Located in southwest Texas, Big Bend National Park is one of the least visited of the U.S. national parks. This vast and rugged wilderness protects the Chisos mountain range and a large part of the Chihuahuan Desert. There are several safety precautions you’ll need to take when visiting Big Bend National Park.
The sun here can be particularly hot, so it’s important to bring plenty of water; bring more than you think you’ll need. Make sure to drink it regularly to remain hydrated. It’s important to dress properly and be prepared for both extreme hot and extreme cold. The days are likely to be hot while temperatures drop significantly overnight, though temperatures are typically cool in the mountains. You’ll want to bring plenty of layers and wear sturdy, closed-toe footwear. Don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat as well.
Thunderstorms are common in this area, so it’s important to be wary of flash flooding. Roads can easily flood and become unsafe to cross, even in your car. In the case of lightning, stay low to the ground, away from tall trees and wide open spaces, and seek shelter or get into your car.
There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities in Big Bend National Park. Never feed or approach wild animals. You’re likely to see deer, javelinas, racoons, rodents, bats, poisonous snakes, scorpions, and spiders. There are also a host of thorny cacti and plants in the park. Be wary of where you step, as dangerous creatures take shelter under rocks and in cracks and crevices. Always check your sleeping bag and inside your shoes before using them for animals when you’re in Big Bend National Park.
In the Chisos Mountains you may encounter black bears and mountain lions. Always secure your food safely and keep a safe distance from these wild animals.
Do not rely on your cell phone as there is little cell service in the park. Always tell someone where you’re going before you head out and have a physical map and compass with you.
Due to the remoteness and ruggedness of this national park, it’s important to be prepared for anything, even if you just plan to take a short hike. You never know what can happen and you don’t want to be stranded inside the park without the proper provisions. Make sure to have a first aid kit, food and water, a flashlight, and an emergency signaling device with you (a mirror and a whistle can be used for this).
It is not safe to swim in the Rio Grande river at Big Bend National Park, as currents are strong and the murky waters hide boulders and branches beneath the surface. NEVER drink water from the river, even if you’ve purified it. It is not clean.