Big Bend Accommodations: Camping, Glamping, Lodges, & More

There are lots of different options for Big Bend accommodations. If you haven’t been here before, it can be pretty confusing to figure out which one will be the best for you and the most convenient to the park. I posted before with some general tips about planning a trip to Big Bend, but here is a more in depth look at the different types of camping and lodging, and the different areas where you can stay. There’s something for everyone here, from backcountry camping to comfy cabins with climate control.

Best Overall

Stay in the park at the Chisos Mountains Lodge*

The lodge is the only non-camping option within the park. It is located right at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center area which means it is super convenient to many of the hikes. There is a restaurant at the lodge and a camp store to buy other supplies.

*This is my top choice with the caveat that in late 2024 they are expected to completely rebuild the lodge. That means it will be out of commission for a while, not to mention that traffic and other logistics getting into and out of the Chisos Basin will be pretty gnarly. If you can wait and plan your trip in a couple of years, a brand new lodge would 100% be my first choice for Big Bend accommodations!

For the Slightly Adventurous

Stay in the park at a “developed” campsite

There are several developed campsites at Big Bend that have flush or vault toilets (kind of like a permanently installed porta-potty), running water, grills, picnic tables, and animal-proof storage boxes so the wildlife doesn’t get into your pop-tarts. They are $16 per night, except for the RV campground, which is $37 per night. You can reserve online at These are the developed campsites in Big Bend:

Chisos Basin: There are 60 sites here. This campground is at a higher elevation than the others. The sites however, are not all level, and only some of them have shade. On the upside though, there are flush toilets, and you’ll have easy access to many of the Big Bend hiking trails.

There are plenty of Big Bend accommodations inside the park, including a large number of developed campsites with water and bathrooms.
Photo courtesy of; check out her comprehensive post on the Chisos Basin Campground.

Cottonwood: There are 30 sites at this campground. This area is in a cottonwood grove along the river and there is partial shade. There are only vault toilets here.

Rio Grande Village: There are 100 sites at Rio Grande Village, so it’s the largest of them all. This is a great area for birding, and it has flush toilets. It’s near the Rio Grande Village nature trail which is an easy .75 mile walk and great for watching birds and sunsets.

Rio Grande RV: There are 25 spots here that have full RV hookups. It is the only place inside the park that has full hookups.

For the Very Adventurous

Stay inside the park at a backcountry campsite

This is primitive camping at its best. There are no toilets or running water. There is no electricity, and no campfires are allowed. You must bring your own water with you to drink and to wash up.

You’ll still need a permit to camp in the backcountry so don’t think you can just drive in and pitch a tent anywhere. Permits cost $10 per night, and you can get them at the Panther Junction and Chisos Basin visitor centers or online at You can get a permit for up to 14 consecutive nights. Although two weeks of primitive camping sounds like hell on earth to me, I’m sure it’s someone’s cup of tea.

Roadside primitive camping is along unpaved roads so you’ll need a high clearance, 4WD vehicle. Generators are not allowed and neither are campfires, but you can have a small camp stove. Sites have a gravel area where you can set up camp, and they all include a locker where you can store your pop-tarts (and other food, if you brought anything else). Oh, don’t forget to bring a trowel so you can bury your poop. If you bring toilet paper in, be prepared to pack it out as well. It is against park rules to bury it or burn it. So maybe also pack some heavy duty ziplock bags…

If you bring a pet they should be on a leash at all times and within the boundaries of the campsite. (That doesn’t sound like fun for fido at all! Might be a good time to leave him at grandma’s.) This policy goes for all the campsites in the park, actually.

Mochi got some epic hikes of her own back in Austin!

If you want to up the primitive camping stakes, you can take just a backpack and hike into the Chisos Mountains. There are 41 campsites sprinkled throughout the mountains. There will be a flat space for your tent, a locker, and a whole lot of animal friends. You will still need to reserve a spot and can do this online at

The Pinnacles trail from the Chisos Basin has several hike-in campsites.

If you’re an experienced hiker and want to head straight into the open desert to camp, you still need a permit! But you can pick one up easily at the Panther Junction visitor center when you arrive.

At $10 per night, open desert camping is about the least expensive Big Bend accommodation you can get.
Camping in the desert in the middle of nowhere? Still need a permit!

For Those Who Need A Few Creature Comforts

Glamp in Terlingua or Study Butte

Terlingua and Study Butte (stoody bewt) seem to be the loose terms for the two strips of road that intersect near Big Bend. There really isn’t a whole lot to the towns, but you can find groceries at the Cottonwood General store, several restaurants, a decent-looking coffee shop, and some tour outfitters.

There she is folks…the town of Terlingua!

If you stay in Terlingua or Study Butte, you will drive 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to the park and the hiking trails. Let me tell you, this adds up quickly. We stayed for three days, and at the end of the third day the extra driving was really wearing on us. It also means you need to get up much earlier to reach the trails in the cool of the day and to get a parking spot before they fill up.

However, there are some very fun and funky accommodations out here. While we didn’t love the extra driving, we did love having our own space at the end of each day.

It’s a long (but pretty) drive into Big Bend from Terlingua or Study Butte.

You can choose to camp in a:

  • Tent
  • RV
  • Yurt
  • Teepee
  • Cabin
  • Bubble

Bubbles look like giant beach balls that you can stay inside. Supposedly bubbles are nice for seeing the stars at night, but the one we saw was a bit dirty and had some unsightly patches on it not unlike the blow up beach balls my family had when I was a kid.

Big Bend accommodations run the gamut from regular tent camping to space-age bubbles.
Bubble accommodation at Basecamp Terlingua.

Most of these places are going to be equally horribly far from Big Bend, so a few hundred yards here or there isn’t going to make much of a difference. I wouldn’t sweat the exact location, but concentrate instead on the amenities you want and the price. There’s not a great aggregate site for looking up where to stay, so I’d recommend just doing an online search for camping in Terlingua. We stayed at Basecamp Terlingua, which has several types of accommodations.

Teepees and yurts in Terlingua.

There were two main things we wanted for our Big Bend accommodations: a full kitchen and a private bathroom. This was surprisingly hard to find. Lots of places had neither, and some places (like the bubbles) had a bathroom but not a kitchen, or vice versa. Most of the places that weren’t actual camping had at least a coffee maker and a microwave. If you have specific needs in mind, it’s helpful to quickly find and filter down to just the ones that work for you before you start to check for availability and pricing.

Casa adobe was one of the only Big Bend accommodations that had a full kitchen and a private bathroom.
Casa Adobe at Basecamp Terlingua.

I hope this was helpful with your planning! In my next post I’ll tell you all about our experience staying in Casa Adobe at Basecamp Terlingua.

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