Big Bend National Park Makes Nat Geo’s List of 25 Must-See Destinations For 2023

by Jon D. B.
Texas, Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon, Rio Grande River. (Photo By: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

As National Geographic states, “Big Bend National Park brings to life the frontier legend of Texas—but the landscape will also surprise you.”

Surprise is an understatement, even. Texans know and revere their crown jewel of a national park, but the country at large still needs an introduction. Big Bend is one of the most fascinating, beautiful, and fulfilling sections of our National Park Service. Which is exactly why it’s made Nat Geo’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023.

In fact, historic hot springs, Dark Sky stargazing, and desert canyon hiking are only the beginning in Texas’s grand national park. Over 500,000 visitors flock to the park each year for the dramatic vistas, diverse wildlife, and fascinating history alongside.

Thinking about taking Nat Geo up on their suggestion? We’re big Big Bend fans here at Outsider, so we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know about the national park.

Get To Know Big Bend National Park

The remote, rugged landscape of Big Bend was nothing but nature itself for untold millennia. Miles of dirt roads followed only in recent history. Decades with the National Park Service (NPS), however, have transformed Big Bend into one of the most popular Texas destinations – and one of the top national parks in America.

North America, USA, Texas, Big Bend National Park, Chisos Mountains and Casa Grande in evening light from Chisos Basin Road. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Often referred to as “Texas’ Gift to the Nation,” Big Bend National Park is a true geological marvel. Some of the most fascinating sites and facts of any U.S. destination are in this park, which makes it no surprise to Outsider that Nat Geo has chosen the park as a top 2023 destination.

Located in southwest Texas, Big Bend protects the entire Chisos mountain range, alongside an enormous stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert. Park officials call this land “a world of diversity,” and it holds true. Often, non-Texans (like this Tennessean before visiting) don’t know what to expect at all. But this only makes the towering river corridor that gives the park its name, or the sky island ridge tops that reach for the stars, all the more phenomenal upon seeing them for the first time.

Cynta de Narvaez soaks in the Big Bend hot springs on a Far Flung Adventures canoe trip down the Rio Grande River. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Remaining whispers of American pioneers, ranchers, miners, and scientists intertwine with the continuing legacy of Texas’ Indigenous Americans, too. In short, Big Bend is unmissable.

To learn everything you need to know ahead of visiting, check out our Top 10 Things to Know About Big Bend National Park: PHOTOS first.

Then, when you’re ready to tackle the park, we’ve got the Top 10 Things to Do in Big Bend National Park for the ultimate excursion. Happy trails, Outsiders!