Activities For Dogs In Big Bend National Park

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Introduction

If Big Bend National Park is on your list of places to visit, you might be thinking about bringing your favorite hound-dog hiker along for the adventure. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Big Bend National Park isn't the pet-friendliest place. Dogs aren't allowed on any of the park's trails. In fact, according to the park's official pet policy, dogs are only allowed where cars are welcome, which seriously limits your options.

This might seem unfair, but these regulations are in place to keep your doggo and other park visitors safe. After all, black bears, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and mountain lions all roam this desert wilderness! Did you know that dog urine attracts coyotes and puts your pup at risk of being attacked? This is just one reason why dogs must be confined to a vehicle at all times in Big Bend National Park. Only leashed service animals are allowed to explore the park with their owners.

So what activities can you enjoy with your woofer at Big Bend National Park and in the surrounding area? Keep reading to find out! If you're planning to hike, though, it's best to book a dog sitter and leave Lassie behind.

Scenic Drives

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
1 hr
Items needed
Car Harness
Activity description
Since pets are allowed wherever cars can go, there's nothing stopping you and Sparky from taking the scenic route through the park! A handful of scenic drives meander throughout this vast expanse, so you and Spot are spoiled for choice. We recommend planning your route in advance where possible, since some roads aren't suitable for all vehicles. Once you're all set, hit the road, roll the window down a smidge, let Fido feel the wind in their fur, and get ready to experience some seriously "unfurgettable" views.
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Chisos Basin Road
If you're just looking for a quick road trip, take the 6-mile drive down Chisos Basin Road for stunning vistas of the region's red rocky outcrops. Just be sure to watch your speed, "pawticularly" since you'll be navigating hairpin curves while ascending to a dizzying elevation of 2,000 feet!
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2
Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village
Ready to take a nice long drive through Big Bend? Hit the Panther Junction route to Rio Grande Village. Along the 21-mile road, you'll cruise past a lush oasis, limestone formations, and the park's star attraction, the Rio Grande. You might spot some of the wildlife that lives in the park, from roadrunners and rabbits to coyotes. This route is a firm favorite with four-legged passengers!
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3
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
Last but certainly not least on our list of dog-friendly scenic drives in Big Bend National Park is the Ross Maxwell route. This 30-mile drive is one of the most "pawpular" in the park, and for good reason! You'll pass by historic ranches, sweeping overlooks, postcard-worthy canyons, and so much more.
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Camping

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
24+ hrs
Items needed
Food and water bowls
Leash
Dog food
Water
Waste bags
Activity description
Although dogs are welcome to camp in a vehicle at Big Bend National Park, it's worth noting that dogs must stay on a six-foot leash and aren't allowed to wander outside the campgrounds. You're also not allowed to leave them unattended, even in a vehicle. For visitors traveling with canine camping companions, Big Bend National Park is best suited for short stopovers. Pups aren't allowed to accompany tent campers. Make sure to bring all the supplies your pal will need — optional items include flea and tick repellent and a first aid kit. Camping during extreme temperatures isn't recommended. Now that you know all the rules and regulations, scroll down for the low-down on camping with a dog at Big Bend National Park.
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1
Rio Grande Village RV Campground
Stay in style at Rio Grande Village RV Campground. This fully developed campground comes equipped with full hookups and a dump station. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a place to park the RV, with 100 sites to choose from.
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Chisos Basin Campground
If you're traveling in a compact campervan or trailer, snag a site at Chisos Basin Campground. Exercise caution when navigating the narrow roads. This campground has 60 primitive sites with no hookups, making it "pawfect" for an off-the-grid getaway.
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Roadside Camping
You'll find a handful of roadside camping areas scattered throughout Big Bend National Park where you can catch some Z's. If you're planning to park the rig at a roadside site, you'll need to apply for a camping permit well in advance. These sites are highly sought-after and can't accommodate motorhomes longer than 30 feet.
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More Fun Ideas...

Exploring the Area

There's not a whole lot for dogs to do in Big Bend National Park, so once you've had your fill of scenic driving, continue along the open road to a more "pawpulated" area. The charming town of Alpine is just an hour north of the park and has a lovely dog park where your buddy can stretch their legs. Or, hit the trails at the pup-friendly Davis Mountains State Park, a little further afield at 100 miles northwest.

Dining Out

Find a pup-friendly restaurant nearby and bring your dog out to a nice dinner after spending all day driving through Big Bend National Park. You'll find some "grrreat" places to chow down nearby, whether you're craving Tex-Mex with a healthy twist or a hearty breakfast.

Conclusion

We'll be straight with you: Big Bend National Park doesn't exactly welcome pups with open arms. Although dogs are allowed in the campgrounds, it's not fair to keep your canine cooped up in a vehicle if you're planning a long stay. However, if you and your pal just want to cruise through the Chihuahuan Desert and bay along to your favorite tunes, Big Bend is a "pawesome" place to do it! You'll also find a few restaurants and parks that welcome pup patrons in the surrounding area. Continue further north and hit I-10, which will take you to dog-friendly destinations like Austin and San Antonio.