Big Bend National Park – Hot Springs Historic District

Big Bend National Park – Hot Springs Historic District

Location:  Big Bend National Park, West Texas
Season: Open year-round
Date Visited: January 20, 2019
Permits and Fees: $30 park entrance fee
Description: A beautiful section of Big Bend National Park, with pristine desert trails and a hot springs on the Rio Grande.

Deborah and I checked out the Historic Hot Springs District last month during our visit to Big Bend.  There was a nice hot spring here, and a few buildings from the old 1900’s resort.  We also hiked the Hot Springs Canyon Trail out to Rio Grande Village, and checked out nearby Boquillas Canyon.  This was a super pretty part of the park, with lovely trails, and gorgeous views of the desert.  Definitely recommend.

The Hot Springs

Big Bend National Park - Trailhead for the Hot Springs District
Hot Springs District Trailhead

The Hot Springs District is near Rio Grande Village on the east side of the park.  We took Hot Springs Road to the trailhead just before the village, (Deborah did an awesome job maneuvering the van down this tiny dirt road).  There was an outhouse and some historic buildings near the parking area, and the hot springs were just a short walk down the Rio Grande from here.

Big Bend National Park - Yellow flowers blooming on the cliffs out to the Hot Springs Trail
Flowers blooming on the cliffs

The trail to the hot springs was an easy half mile, with pretty yellow flowers blooming on the cliffs along the way.  So pretty!

Big Bend National Park - Hot springs pool along the Rio Grande
The hot spring pool on the bank of the Rio Grande

The pools are in the ruins of an old bath house from the early 1900’s.  At the time this was once a popular resort, but it fell into decline after the National Park moved in the 1940’s.  Sadly, the park service demolished the bath house in the 1950’s, and the broken concrete pool is now all that remains at the springs.  Hot water still flows out of the springs though, and visitors are free to enjoy a soak if they wish.  The water was clean and warm, somewhere around 105 degrees, and Deborah and I indulged ourselves for nice couple hours that morning.  While we were there, the Rio Grande was running right next to the pool, and we could jump in and out the river right from the spring. So good!

Hot Springs Canyon Trail

Big Bend National Park - View of the Sierra Del Carmen above the Rio Grande as seen from the Hot Springs Canyon Trail
The Sierra Del Carmen above the Rio Grande as seen from Hot Springs Canyon Trail

After a soak, Deborah and I hiked the 3-mile Hot Springs Canyon Trail out to Rio Grande Village.  This trail was really nice, following along the Rio Grande through a beautiful part of the Chihuahuan desert.  Along the way, we found more ruins from the resort, and had beautiful views of the Chisos Mountains and the Sierra Del Carmen.

Big Bend National Park - Pretty cacti and other desert plants along Hot Springs Canyon Trail.
Pretty desert foliage along Hot Springs Canyon Trail.

The desert along the Hot Springs Canyon Trail was super pretty.  There were lots of wild flowers, even in January, and we saw tons of awesome cacti.

Bed Bend National Park - Fossil of a nautilus
Fossil of a Nautilus

There were also lots and lots of fossils in the rocks along the trail here.  This was a seabed, some 100 million years ago, and we found plenty of shells embedded in the rocks.  My favorite was this pretty Nautilus, nearly 10 inches across.

Big Bend National Park - Sierra Del Carmen over Rio Grande Village
Rio Grande Village with the Sierra Del Carmen in the distance

We took the trail all the way into the Rio Grande Village, checking in at the little market for a couple of cool drinks.  Even though it was winter, it was still super warm out, and we ended up hitching a ride back to our car to avoid the heat.  Lol.  Thanks for the ride Kyle!

Boquillas Canyon

Big Bend National Park - Boquillas Canyon
Boquillas Canyon

Later that afternoon, we checked out the nearby Boquillas Canyon, where the Rio Grande makes an giant cut through an otherwise impenetrable set of cliffs.  There was a short trail out to the mouth of the canyon, with some impressive views of the cliffs, and pretty beaches along the river.

Big Bend National Park - Mexican craft seller riding a horse near Boquillas Canyon
Man selling crafts from Mexico

On our way back, a Mexican man on a horse crossed over the river to offer us wire trinkets and bags.  We talked to the guy for a while and he was cool.  Deborah also found a blue donkey bag for $7.  Go blue donkeys!

Final Thoughts

We hadn’t originally planned to visit Big Bend National Park last month, but it was one of the handful of parks still open during the January government shutdown.  Big Bend was a treat though.  The Chihuahuan desert was amazing, particularly the areas near the Rio Grande Village. We both really liked the canyon trail, which crossed a super pretty patch of desert, and had nice views of the surrounding mountains.  The hot springs were lovely too, and we had fun jumping in and out of the river from the pools and checking out some of the ruins.  The Hot Springs Historic District is a great part of the park, and worth checking out.

Related Pages

Big Bend National Park – South Rim Loop

More Information

General information and more information about the hot springs can be found on the Big Bend National Park Website:

Big Bend National Park – General Information

Big Bend National Park – Hot Springs

 

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