One of the many great things about Big Bend National Park is the options for camping. You can stay in a classic campground with RV hookups and pay showers, hike into the mountains and camp overlooking the entire park, or even plop your tent down somewhere in the desert far from everything and enjoy the night skies in solitary. My go-to form of camping is backcountry car camping though. There are only three paved roads in Big Bend but there are dozens of dirt roads through the parks backcountry. Scattered throughout these primitive roads are campsites that require you to have a $14 backcountry permit (the $14 is just for the permit and pricing does not change based on your number of nights camping). Some sites are miles into the desert and some you can see the main road from so there are options for everybody (most require high clearance vehicles and some require 4wd).
One of my favorite examples of this kind of camping is Grapevine Hills road. It is very close to both Panther Junction and the Chisos Basin and is about equidistant to each side of the park. Also off of the road is Balanced Rock, a large pile of rocks that seem to be balancing on one another. The road itself is maintained for the first couple miles but after that high clearance is recommended! There are five campsites off of the road and the ranger can help you pick the best site for you when you get your backcountry permit!
If you want to get away from the campgrounds and have a little more space then these primitive car camping sites are great for you! Keep in mind that none of these sites have restrooms or trash cans so be sure to pack out what you bring with you and if you aren’t comfortable with a cactus toilet the Grapevine Hills campsites are great because right down the main road you can use the always open Panther Junction restrooms!
Half asleep, making coffee.
A bad but still pretty star picture from Grapevine Hills.
Thanks! – Josh