Big Bend Ranch State Park

While you assuredly need to visit Big Bend National Park, its neighbor to the west – Big Bend Ranch State Park – is worth time, too. Ideally, you’ll have at least a few days in each park.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department calls Big Bend Ranch State Park “the other side of nowhere.” And there’s lots of nowhere to explore. After all, this is the biggest state park in Texas (in the state that does everything bigger, that’s saying something). 

Approaching from the west, you’ll go through Presidio. Arriving from the east (that is, coming from Big Bend National Park), you’ll go through Terlingua. There’s about 62 miles between the two cities and much of the road that connects them runs through the state park a stone’s throw from the Rio Grande, which marks the U.S. border with Mexico. 

Photo by Colin McMechan (

Away from the river, lodging is available at the Sauceda Bunkhouse, which holds up to 30 people. It’s a great pitstop after spending some time in the backcountry.

Lots of primitive campsites dot the park, though permits are required. You can get them in person at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center or Fort Leaton State Historic Site, or online at 

Some roads are unmaintained and require the use of 4×4, but most are easily accessible, including the Upper and Lower Madera campgrounds, the Grassy Banks Campground and the Arenosa Campground, all located beside the Rio Grande.