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Watching Wildlife at Big Bend National Park

Located in western Texas bordering Mexico, Big Bend National Park is the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert topography in the U.S. The park is famed for protecting more than 1,200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals.

Unlike other U.S. parks, dinosaur bones and volcanic dykes can be observed in this national park, making it a popular archeological site that has history dating back 10,000 years. Today, the park encompasses 801,163 acres of land. It’s notorious for its hot semi-arid climate, with dramatic, extreme weather fluctuations throughout the seasons.

Since the climate is hot by day, most of the native species are not visible due to their nocturnal adaption. But as you can image, the park comes alive at night with most animals emerging to forage for food. Keep your eyes peeled for cougars, coyotes, kangaroo rats, roadrunners, and bears in the park, as well as rattlesnakes, bullsnakes, southern prairie lizards, and mule deer.

Big Bend National Park’s Top Animals

  • Cougars
  • Golden eagles
  • Roadrunners
  • Kangaroo rats
  • Coyotes
  • Gray foxes
  • Jackrabbits
  • Black bears
  • Mule deer
  • Rattlesnakes
  • Bullsnakes
  • Prairie lizards

Viewing Locations

Rio Grande: One of the best ways to see the animals in the park is to check out the Rio Grande River which serves as their main source of water. The river supports 40 species of fish, several species of turtle, beavers, and plenty of birds.
Cottonwood Campground: This campground is one of the best for catching local animals roaming to and from their food sources in the morning. Be sure to tie up your food at night so no bears are tempted to break into the campground.

When Should You Go?

As a desert region, it’s best to visit this park in the early morning and evening hours. Since temperatures can get hot at the Mexico border, it’s best to visit the park in the fall, winter, and spring months and avoid the summer. Note: it can get cold enough to snow in the winter, so be sure to pack accordingly.