Big Bend Exploring and Hiking

Destination: Big Bend National Park

| Activities: Primarily Hiking with a Day of Kayaking

The Big Bend region of Texas is untouched, under-touristed, and just a little bit funky. This trip brings you into the heart of the region with hiking in Big Bend State Park and Big Bend National Park, paddling the Rio Grande and a trek up into the Chisos Mountains- a trail that Backpacker Magazines includes in their ‘100 Best Miles of Hiking in the US’. You will experience the eclectic style of West Texas people, nature, and history. This desert that on first glance seems so lifeless is filled with hardy vegetation and a myriad of desert creatures. We think the Big Bend Region is a world set apart and suspect you will too. We agree with the the folks in the Big Bend region- “West Texas is the Best Texas!”


  • Experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Big Bend National Park on foot
  • Paddling along the Rio Grande River and admiring the natural border between Mexico and the United States
  • Hiking in the Chisos Mountains along the South Rim Trail
  • Star gazing in the desert darkness- Big Bend is part of the International Dark Sky Park

Departures and Prices

November 01 to November 08, 2024
$4250.00 - Limited Availability
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February 03 to February 10, 2025
$4250.00 - Available
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights lodging in a historic hotel, cabins and National Park Lodge (motel rooms)
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on the last day. We will go out to restaurants for most meals and the guides will prepare the others.
  • Round-trip transportation from El Paso to the Park
  • Park entry fees

Not included: Travel to and from El Paso, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is designed for women who enjoy hiking in the mountains and desert surrounded by breathtaking scenery. We will be hiking 6 - 10 miles a day in hilly terrain with steep ascents and descents, along rocky and uneven terrain. Previous hiking experience is extremely useful, as is having a sense of adventure and a good level of physical fitness. A rating of 4 requires aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2-hour hike once a week) and/or strength training is appropriate.  Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the uniqueness of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the this park than by foot and from a kayak or canoe. Some of the hikes are quite challenging in terms of length and elevation gain, and it is an excellent trip for fit intermediate and experienced hikers who like hikes of intermediate or longer length.

The lodging on this trip will vary as much as the landscape. The accommodations will include a historic hotel, casita (little house in Spanish) and a National Park lodge. The lodging will have en suite bathrooms. The casitas will have a small kitchenette. There is an option at an additional cost to get a single room. You can select this option at registration.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Today is arrival day! You are to arrive in El Paso by 3 PM. Tonight will be an introduction and orientation dinner. More details about meeting place will be in the pre-trip letter.

Overnight: Hotel in El Paso (D)
We will get an early start to the day beginning at our El Paso hotel! You and your guides will gather at the hotel and will begin the journey east with a three-hour drive to Marfa, a former sleepy ranching town that has exploded onto the art scene. Before arriving in Marfa, we will stretch our legs with a short hike around the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center. After our hike, we will drive the remaining 30 minutes to Marfa. We'll arrive at the historic Hotel Paisano in time to freshen up before dinner at our hotel. There's an outdoor patio and an indoor fireplace lounge to enjoy! (B, L, D)

Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: 2.2 mile loop, 335 feet elevation gain/loss

Overnight: Hotel Paisano
Leaving Marfa, we'll depart for Big Bend National park to hike the Mesa de Anguila Trail, one of the most spectacular hikes in the National Park. The mesa sits high atop Santa Elena Canyon and serves as the western border of the park. We'll hike from Lajitas about 2 miles to the saddle, which offers a view to the Rio Grande far below us as well as into Mexico. We will enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the view before returning to the trailhead. After our hike we will continue to Terlingua Ghost Town, visit the Barton Warnock Visitor Center, and settle into our casitas, our home for the next three nights. (B, L, D)

Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Mesa de Anguila Trail: 3.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 596ft

Overnight: Far Flung Casitas
After breakfast, we'll take the scenic drive on the Ross Maxwell scenic drive to the Santa Elena Canyon. Once we arrive, we’ll stretch our legs with a short hike to view the Canyon. On our way back, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch and stop at our second hike of the day, Mule Ear Trail. Starting off with vast desert views we’ll eventually arrive at the chimneys, where we can find ancient petroglyphs and see the rock formations up close. After our final hike, we’ll admire the views of the scenic drive and return to our cozy casitas for dinner and another night’s rest. (B, L, D)

Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Santa Elena Canyon Trail: 1.7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 213ft Mule Ear Trail: 3.8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 880ft

Overnight: Far Flung Casitas
From yesterday's eagle-eye viewpoint we spied the Rio Grande and today we'll be paddling in it! We will have a full day paddle through one of the many amazing canyons in Big Bend National Park, depending on water levels and guide recommendations. We will explore the 2,000-foot cathedral-like walls that create a natural border in the park. This paddle lets us explore the riparian zones of the Rio. Our local outfitter will provide instruction as well as natural history interpretation. We’ll return to Terlingua for dinner. (B, L, D)

Overnight: Far Flung Casitas
Today we move from our casitas in Terlingua to Chisos Mountain Lodge, within the National Park. Our first stop is the National Park Visitor Center at Panther Junction. We’ll continue to Chisos Basin and hike the Window Trail, an out-and-back 5.6-mile route through Oak Creek Canyon. After our hike, we’ll move into our rooms and enjoy the scenery of the basin before meeting for dinner at the lodge. (B, L, D)

Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Window Trail: 5.2 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 948ft

Overnight: Chisos Mountain Lodge
We're saving our most spectacular hikes for last. Today we will have the option to explore the South Rim Trail or the Lost Mine trail. The South Rim Trail is a 12-mile loop hike that rewards us with dramatic vistas of the Sierra del Carmen Mountains of Mexico, the rolling foothills of the Chisos, and the Chihuahuan Desert thousands of feet below. The Lost Mine Trail is 4.8 mile out and back hike that provides an outstanding introduction the flora and fauna of the Chisos Mountains, as well as showing us spectacular vistas of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert and out towards Mexico. Either trail is an excellent choice! (B, L, D)

Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: South Rim Trail: 12.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 2,657ft Lost Mine Trail: 4.8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,131ft

Overnight: Chisos Mountain Lodge
The trip may be ending but the journey isn't over! After a breakfast at the lodge we'll load up and drive two hours to Alpine, where we'll stop to stretch our legs before three more hours in the car brings us to El Paso. We’ll have our last lunch together along the way. We will arrive at the airport by 2:00PM and you can plan to fly out after 3:00PM. (B, L)


(52 reviews)
4.2 Food
4.3 Lodging
4.6 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Sort By:
Most Recent

Sharon S.
4 months ago

I have been wanting to hike big bend for several years and finally made it happern

Claudia S.
5 months ago


Susan R.
5 months ago

Diane F.
5 months ago

The hiking, people and guides were all amazing. I really enjoyed the additional excursions to the fossil exhibit and the many visitor centers.

Andrea S.
5 months ago

Kim H.
5 months ago

The sampler of what Big Bend offers was great. Every hike offered something different and the canoe day was a treat.

Theresa B.
5 months ago

What made this trip special was to me was canoeing on the Rio Grande with new friends.

Sara G.
5 months ago

Loved our guides and the hikes. The meals they made were delicious.

Linda O.
5 months ago

The spectacular scenery and the wonderful group of women I travelled with.

Cheryl B.
8 months ago

diversity of experiences and hikes from desert to mountains to kayaking in river Jen the guide was awesome --- helpful and attentive.

Theresa C.
8 months ago

The guides were awesome, my fellow travelers meshed together very well and the park is beautiful. Only wish the weather wasn’t so foggy and rainy, as I missed out on the dark skies and star gazing!

Martyann G.
8 months ago

Very well organized, Very nice accommodations. Good variety of hikes.

Claire T.
8 months ago

Ellen S.
8 months ago

The beautiful scenery, the lovely ladies, and the two great guides

Lori M.
8 months ago

Great women and guides. Beautiful place

Judy N.
8 months ago

The guides worked very hard to make it all go well. The group of people on this trip were wonderful.

Joyce F.
1 year ago

These AGC trips are always great! Very well planned and organized. FABULOUS guides!!

Peggy R.
1 year ago

Pam M.
1 year ago

It was great being with other women who like to do the same things I do.

Carey J.
1 year ago

I got to experience the desert and came away appreciating the uniqueness of the varying terrain and all that thrive there. I also had the opportunity to kayak for the first time and on the Rio Grande of all places. Wow, how memorable is that!

Robin S.
1 year ago

I got to check off another national park.

Carol B.
1 year ago

I had never visited Big Bend National Park before. Kayaking on the Rio Grande was the highlight of the trip for me.

Michelle M.
1 year ago

Shawn Y.
1 year ago

I loved seeing this remote part o the country. I would not have gone here on my own. What a pleasure to see it with a terrific group of women.

Gail T.
1 year ago

Big Bend is a truly spectacular place. Our guides were competent and caring and as always, getting to know my fellow travelers was a treat. Seeing the Rio Grande from above and then kayaking on it was a lot of fun. Experiencing a totally different landscape than the Midwest made the trip extra special. Things I learned: it is DRY in the high desert, heavy-duty lip balm is a must. There is minimal shade on most trails so a wide-brimmed hat helps with the intense sunshine. Much of the trails have lots of loose rocks on them. Some of the trails involve steep climbs--altitude varies from around 2,000 to 5,500 feet most of the time. Be sure you're in shape!

Danielle D.
1 year ago

met my expectations and then some!

Katharine R.
2 years ago

Fun, easygoing and caring guides! Great hikes, good accommodations overall. Food was great. The people on this trip made it very special.

Anne L.
2 years ago

Seeing a new area of the country. Meeting and hiking with interesting women.

Frances F.
2 years ago

Sharon B.
2 years ago

Seeing a part of the country I knew nothing about

Christine H.
2 years ago

The group wasn't too large and got along well. The guides were flexible and offered alternative hikes when possible.

Anne A.
2 years ago

Great guides, great group of women, beautiful area to explore! This was my first experience on a trip with AGC, and I loved it!!!

Pam F.
2 years ago

Experiencing a beautiful, remote part of the Southwest.

Ursula F.
2 years ago

Fabulous group of women - no exceptions. Great views. Outstanding guides.

Marie C.
2 years ago

We had a very cohesive group of women. I enjoyed all of them. And it was fun to break in a new guide!

Paula L.
2 years ago

The people on the trip, the guides and places it took me

Michelle B.
2 years ago

The guides and my fellow travelers were the absolute best part. As for activities, the hiking in Big Bend NP was spectacular. I also really enjoyed our Casitas in Terlingua.

Barbara C.
2 years ago

Variety in hikes; dark skies; great group of women and guides

Carol B.
2 years ago

Hiking in such an exotic place, wonderful guides and a great group of women participants.

Catherine E.
2 years ago

Perfectly planned itinerary to an unusual destination. I enjoyed every minute!

Colleen B.
2 years ago

The location

Norine M.
2 years ago

The people on the trip.

Neta N.
2 years ago

Enjoyed the guides and all of the other hikers. I think for me, I would have liked to spend more time in the National park and less time in the State park.

Lauretta L.
4 years ago

Each day our guides had a mini meeting with everyone to discuss the day and what was expected for the upcoming hike.

Janice C.
4 years ago

I wanted to walk far and we did!

Deb C.
4 years ago

Since this was a 1st run trip, there were a few hiccups. But I thought our guides worked thru them very well. The town of Terlingua was really fun and unique. I really enjoyed the hike of the Mesa de Anguilla. The kayaking day was my favorite. The river was low, so it was just a float. The views of the canyon walls were just amazing. We had lunch on the bank of the river. It was a humorous and lovely day. There is substantial van time on this trip. This is a big NP and remote. So, it is part of the deal. The road from the Chisos Lodge to Marathon had amazing views of the park and was very enjoyable. Our group was fun. We laughed a lot.

Doris E.
4 years ago

Hiking in extraordinary Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park (especially the South Rim) and kayaking the Rio Grande in Santa Elena Canyon with the usual great group of participants and guides were definitely the highlights, though I didn’t consider it a “true” level 4 trip.

Linda K.
4 years ago

Enjoyed all of the hikes and the kayaking. The lodge and hotel were great. The tipis were interesting; the only downside was the trek to the washroom during the cold and windy nights. The guides were great!

Luann P.
4 years ago

Bernice T.
4 years ago

The activities were terrific, accommodations were 2 out of 3 great, guides were fantastic. I was disappointed that there was not much socializing during our downtimes, and would have preferred less driving. Low light of the trip was the border crossing/hot springs--would have preferred another day of hiking or kayaking

Kathi W.
4 years ago

I loved seeing the variety of the area but I was not expecting so much driving - albeit inevitable!

Karin L.
4 years ago

Worthwhile; varied; good mix of exertion and rest days. Beautiful place. I’m so glad I went. 12 mile hike in Chisos was the BEST. Kayaking in the canyon second.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Most meal breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches will either be packed lunches (guides will put out lunch fixings in the morning) or picnic style. Some dinners will be prepared by the guides.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.