The 21.0 mile drive from Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village descends nearly two thousand feet and traverses ancient limestone and has incredible sweeping vistas across the river to the beathtaking Sierra del Carmen Mountains in Mexico. Along the drive, Dug Out Wells offers a shady picnic area and a short desert nature trail, the Rio Grande Overlook and Boquillas Canyon Overlook both provide amazing views, and the short hike into Boquillas Canyon leads to one of Big Bend National Park’s most scenic spots.
If you’re a hot spring lover, you can also hike to the historic hot springs! Because we were leaving the park that night to drive to Carlsbad, New Mexico and I wanted to see the Marathon Target in the daylight, we needed to be strategic about how we spent the afternoon. We wanted to the see the best highlights of this part of Big Bend National Park, so we skipped the Hot Springs Trail (it was too long).
The Rio Grande Village Visitor Center, sits 0.25 miles north of the Rio Grande Village.
At the Visitor Center you can:
- Pay park entrance fees.
- Explore exhibits on bats and other animals that live in Big Bend.
- Pick up river use permits.
- See a small desert garden that provides an overview of Chihuahuan Desert plants.
- Watch a short presentation in a small theater.
- Shop in the small Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore.
- Fill your water bottles at the faucet/filling station.
Rio Grande Village, also known as Boquillas, is a cultural crossroads where irrigated fields and abandoned Mexican and American adobes tell the story of the region’s history and the Sierra del Carmen Mountains rise up in the distance. Here you’ll find the Rio Grande Village Campground, the Rio Grande Village Store, the Rio Grande Village RV Campground, trailheads for hiking, and the lush green Daniel’s Ranch Picnic Area, as well as Boquillas Crossing — the place you can cross the Rio Grande River to the border village of Boquillas Del Carmen, Mexico.
We stopped at the Daniels Ranch Picnic Area for lunch. The picnic area has several large cottonwood trees, offers shade and a respite from the sun, and has one vault restroom. After lunch, we wandered over to check out the Daniels Ranch farmhouse at the Hot Springs Canyon Trailhead before hiking the Boquillas Canyon Trail.
About Daniels Ranch
The Daniels Ranch 1920s adobe farmhouse, one of the few historic buildings in the area, is a two-room building that is typical of Big Bend’s agricultural period.
The original landowner Jesus Estrada sold the land to John O. Wedlin. Wedlin leveled the fields and transformed the area into a productive farm by installing a system of irrigation ditches and pumping water from the river. He also built the house now known as the Daniels Farmhouse as a storage shed for farm equipment.
In 1926, Wedlin sold the farm to cattleman Joe H. Graham. Graham owned the Lou Buttrill Ranch in the northern Big Bend and used the farm’s grain to feed his cattle. Graham expanded his operation, but sold the northern 200 acres to John R. Daniels and his wife Mary Coe Daniels in 1937.
The Daniels moved into the former storage shed, using it as their residence. They added a room to house a small store that catered to local residents in the Boquillas community and converted about 100 acres of land to cotton. When the park was established in 1944, the Daniels moved away. Since then, no one has farmed in the area.
A portion of the Daniels Ranch, including the house and its immediate surroundings was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Know Before You Go
About Rio Grande Village:
- Rio Grande Village Visitor Center, located 0.25 miles north of the Rio Grande Village, is open seasonally from November through April from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. It is closed for lunch.
- There are clean, flush restrooms available at the Visitor Center.
- Inside each of Big Bend’s visitor centers is a fully stocked bookstore operated in partnership with a private, non-profit organization called Big Bend Natural History Association (BBNHA). The bookstore carries educational books, videos, park information, and souvenirs. All profit from sales stays in the park.
- The Rio Grande creates a distinct environment in Big Bend National Park that is home to countless bird species and many desert animals. Several river hikes provide access into river canyons and elsewhere along its banks.
- The Rio Grande Village Campground is set in a large grove of cottonwoods adjacent to the Rio Grande — the International Boundary between the United States and Mexico. Here you’ll find the camp store, showers, flush toilets, running water, picnic tables, grills, some overhead shelters, and even laundry. The campground has 100 sites, 43 of which are reservable from November 15 through April 15.
- The Daniels’ Ranch picnic area, located on the west side of Rio Grande Village has shaded picnic tables and pit toilets, and is the trailhead for the Hot Springs Canyon trail.
- The Rio Grande Village Nature Trail that crosses a wetland spring is a popular birding location. A self-guiding leaflet describes the area’s natural and human history.
- Rio Grande Village is at 1,850 feet elevation and temperatures are cooler here than in other parts of the park during colder months. Temperatures from April to September can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Nearby Boquillas Crossing is where you can cross the Rio Grande and enter Mexico. You must have your passports. The border crossing is not open everyday, so if this is something you want to do, make sure you visit when it is open.
About Big Bend National Park:
- Big Bend National Park is located in Brewster County, southwest Texas.
- The name Big Bend refers to the great U-turn the Rio Grande makes in Southwest Texas. The Rio Grande defines the park’s southern boundary for 118 miles.
- Park entrances are open 24 hours daily, all year and have variable seasons and hours.
- Admission fees are valid for seven days and are $30/vehicle, $25/motorcycle, $15/individual/bicyclist/pedestrian.
- There are five Visitor Centers in Big Bend National Park: Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, Castolon, Persimmon Gap, and Rio Grande Village.
- Download the Big Bend National Park maps.
- There are three developed campgrounds in the park: the Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood campgrounds. Sites are first come, first-served, although a limited number of campsites in Rio Grande Village and the Chisos Basin campgrounds are reservable.
- Convenience stores are available and open year-round at Rio Grande Village, the Chisos Basin, and in the historic La Harmonia store at Castolon.
- Gas stations are located at Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village, and outside the park in Study Butte and Stillwell’s Ranch. Diesel is available at Panther Junction and in Study Butte.
- Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go and must be on a leash no longer than six feet in length or in a cage at all times. Pet etiquette and park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.