A Digital Nomad's Guide to Big Bend National Park

 
 

 
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Big Bend is located at the bottom of Texas on the border of Mexico and is one of the hardest to reach National Parks. That being said, it is also one of the most off the grid places that we have visited. But fear not little nomad for this guide will show you how to both work and see all that Big Bend has to offer! For those lucky enough to visit Big Bend, you are in for a special treat. It is wild, endless and full of life and color. Spend some time exploring a ghost town or walking through rocks that were home to natives thousands of years ago. Take a hike on any of the hundreds of trails the park and surrounding land have to offer for views that will take your breath away. Or explore one of the best ghost towns we have come across on our journeys. This guide is tailored to those working full-time and want to get out and about on evenings and weekends but can be easily expanded on for those planning for a vacation! Happy trails - The Elishes.

Best time to visit Big Bend: Nov - March
Amount of time to spend here: 1-2 weeks

  Views from Santa Elena Canyon

Views from Santa Elena Canyon

(click to jump to a section)

where to stay

 

 

Study Butte RV Park - We opted to stay at Study Butte as it is just outside of the park (>1 mile to the Panther Junction entrance) and within close proximity to cafes and access to. The park was crowded, we are talking awning touching awning close, but we met some of the nicest neighbors turned friends this way. Like everything in Terlingua, the park is rustic, wild and old and truly unique from any other park we’ve visited. There is a small cemetery in the back and pieces of bright pottery and strange half built buildings most likely kept around to help shield from sudden wind storms. Untamed is a good way to put it, and it also frees it’s visitors to feel the same. We walked where we wanted, explored interesting finds and created hikes out into the desert from our campsite without a single worry that we would be reprimanded. No paved and level sites here, but you do have full hook ups and the new owners were working hard to put in new showers and rest rooms for their tent going spring breakers. Oh and the stars and wind are for real here. Prepare to be amazed at the night display and remember to put your awning in before leaving for the day!

 Maker:S,Date:2017-10-20,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Pros: Location, friendly people and staff, good vibes (it’s true - this makes a huge difference), amid renovations.

Cons: Tight spaces, not many amenities (no laundry)

Overall review: We would (and will) camp here again.

Digital nomad review: You will be unable to work from the wifi provided by the park and there is 3G cellular data (Verizon) but not strong enough to do VoIP. Continue down to where to work to find out how to pulled off not getting fired and checking out the bottom of the US.

 
  Old cemetery in Terlingua Ghost Town

Old cemetery in Terlingua Ghost Town

  Ozzy in the wild west

Ozzy in the wild west

what to do

 

 
  • Take a hike! There are endless trails to choose from for all levels in and out of Big Bend National Park. Some of our favorite hikes were: Santa Elena Canyon and The Window Trail.

  • Visit Terlingua Ghost Town. Full of abandoned buildings turned galleries and restaurants, old cemeteries, covered mine shafts and the coolest town Mayor we have ever met! It is small but the more you explore the more this quaint gem has to offer.

  Views on the road to Santa Elena Canyon

Views on the road to Santa Elena Canyon

  • Take a stroll through a historic art gallery at the Indian Trail Head petroglyphs - some dating back to ~10,000 years old! Just the rocks alone make this place a must do. Click here for the trail map.

  • Soak in a natural hot spring at an abandoned resort from the early 1900’s. Getting hot? Just jump into the Rio Grande that flows right next door and revel in some international waters.

  • Walk across the border to Boquillas, Mexico for some tasty (and cheap) food, colorful homes and friendly people. Opt for either a burro ride into town or a half mile walk. Note that you will need your passport to cross and come back.

  Abandoned hot springs resort

Abandoned hot springs resort

  Lone rider at Boquillas, MX

Lone rider at Boquillas, MX

  Sunset at the Indian Head petroglyphs

Sunset at the Indian Head petroglyphs

where to eat

 

 
  • Starlight Theatre - This was our favorite restaurant in the Big Bend area, and the wait time reflects it’s popularity. Live music almost every night, food is good and the price is fair and if you have to wait you can grab a drink and enjoy some porch entertainment from the locals. Don’t forget to say hello to the stuffed goat Mayor in the back before you leave! Pro tip: get here when they open to get your name on the list and score a table before 9PM.

  • High Sierra Bar & Grille - Definitely a dive bar with a mix of both tourists and locals. Your basic pub food with decent drink prices. Come on Wednesday to enjoy karaoke - that was definitely a treat!

  • Espresso…Y Poco Mas - A cafe with good coffee, outdoor seating and a brunch menu that offers fresh foods (can be hard to find a decent salad out here). We worked from here on many mornings and their wifi was ok (2-5 MBPS download) but not great. Beware that there is only outdoor seating with some covering so you may get caught in a storm and need to make a quick dash to your car!

 

where to work

 

 
  • Big Bend Public Library - Wait for it… there is FIBER in Big Bend and it is located at the Terlingua Community School! When we first arrived to Big Bend I was hyperventilating over the wifi speeds. They are all on DSL and the Verizon speeds are slow enough to cause weeping. There was no way we were going to be able to work and that meant that we would need to leave the day we arrived. And then we were told by a local about this wifi oasis in an otherwise dried up data desert and suddenly our dreams of working AND seeing Big Bend came true! Expect speeds between 20-40 MBPS, plenty of speed to screen share, VoIP, remote into whatever you like AND download some Netflix videos in the background. The staff are super friendly and accommodating, they only ask that you don’t take calls or eat in the library itself. I took most of my calls out in the hall where I wheeled out a chair next to a power outlet but the strength is good enough that you can also sit in your car if you need to get extra loud and rowdy. It is shared with the school system so expect to see little ones marching by for story time. The library is open 8-4PM and follows the school’s holiday schedule.

  • Espresso y pocos mas - There is a cafe in the ghost town that has ok wifi. VoIP calls were doable but depended on how many customers were present. Good if you need to be logged in while grabbing a quick lunch or coffee. Expect speeds from 2-5 MBPS here. Address below in map under Resources.

 
  Working view from Espresso y pocos mas

Working view from Espresso y pocos mas

  The sweet librarian at Terlingua Library

The sweet librarian at Terlingua Library

 

resources

Below you will find some handy resources for your traveling pleasure. The best one (in my opinion) is this kick ass Google map that I put together for you that has all of the spots discussed above in this guide plus more! (Like laundry! And groceries! Woo!). I would recommend saving this map to your own google maps by clicking the button below the map so you can easily reference it on your phone/computer/tablet when in Big Bend. Not sure how to save this map for your own use on your phone or computer? Click here for our quick tutorial!

Click the arrow on the header of the map to expand the categories!

 
 

 
 
nomanda

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda is a coffee addicted, arts and crafts obsessed, digital nomad. She travels the country in her renovated '88 Airstream with her husband Dave and dog Ozzy. If you don't feed her every 4 hours she can't be responsible for her actions.

 

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