Big Bend National Park Best Photography Spots
Big Bend National Park is Texas’s Selenium Valley, a place where the landscape is so dramatic that it seems to have been planned by God himself. The river carves a broad U-shape through the park’s Chihuahuan Desert and mountains into a series of canyons, creating one of the most spectacular natural wonders in North America. As you explore this varied terrain on foot or by car, visit the park’s historic sites and view some of Texas’ least-visited gems.
Big Bend may be relatively small, but it packs a punch. You’ll find that this park has a lot more to offer than just the typical wildlife viewing experience. Big Bend National Park has incredible landscapes, including deserts, mountains, and rivers. This post highlights our best photography spots in the park to photograph these landscapes.
Best gear to photograph Big Bend National Park
The gear we recommend is a good camera and the holy trinity. A wide-angle lens. 14-24mm or something similar. A 24-70mm or something similar and, of course, a 70-200mm or something similar.
If you do not have these particular lenses, do not worry; something similar will be just fine. A tripod is also highly recommended to capture those epic sunsets and night shots.
Big Bend National Park Best Photography Spots
1. Big Bend National Park
With over 1 million acres of wild terrain and a variety of wildlife, Big Bend National Park is one of the best photography spots in all of Texas. There are several amazing spots to get great photos, but Big Bend’s iconic overlook is a must-visit spot. You’ll have dramatic sunsets and even better mountainside views. With ample opportunities to capture incredible images, it’s no wonder that Big Bend is a favorite among photographers.
2. South Rim
The South Rim of Big Bend National Park is one of the park’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. This 2-mile long hike leads to a truly spectacular vista of the Chisos Mountains which rise up dramatically in front of you. Climb down an easy stone stairway to access the dramatic viewpoint, providing views that stretch across the desert floor below. Bring your camera and snap some amazing landscapes.
At an elevation of 8500 feet, the South Rim at Big Bend National Park is one of the best photography spots for photographers in the Southwest. The South Rim is the high point of Big Bend National Park, a gateway to dramatic canyons and desert vistas. From the South Rim, you can enjoy the the Rio Grande and Chisos Mountains providing spectacular views and requiring a bit of effort to reach.
3. Sam Nail Ranch
Sam Nail Ranch is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. It is an awesome hike to get out and experience some of the best scenery that Texas has to offer. You can drive a short distance from Terlingua, but there is also a primitive trail that leads you to a scenic overlook offering panoramic views of the Chisos Mountains. It is located just past the Rio Grande Village on River Road and is recognizable by a large sign that says: “No Hunting.” A trail leads down to a large stone house, built around 1923-25 by Texan James G. Nail. In its heyday, Sam Nail Ranch was a bustling ranching operation, with hundreds of cattle grazing on its rich grasses.
4. Homer Wilson Ranch
Homer Wilson Ranch is located in the heart of Big Bend National Park This magnificent desert ranch is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend. The views are spectacular and the light changes constantly so you can always find something new to shoot. Homer Wilson Ranch is a photographer’s dream come true. The ranch sits high in the Chisos Mountains, nestled against the skyline of the canyon. It offers dramatic scenes of rock walls and spires, colorful wildflowers, lush vegetation, and crystal-clear pools of water. There is no better way to experience Big Bend National Park than to hike through its trails or ride horseback across its prairies.
5. Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is one of the most popular photography spots in Big Bend National Park. The drive offers sweeping views of the Chihuahuan Desert and vegetation ranging from grassland to desert shrubs, with a view through the mountains to Mexico. The road is paved but narrow and has sharp curves so take care when driving. It winds through desert shrubland before reaching a turnaround point that offers breathtaking views.
Big Bends National Park Best Photography Spots
6. Castolon Peak
Castolon Peak is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. At around 2,300 feet in elevation, it offers beautiful views of the Chisos Mountains and can be accessed by trail or by car. The 3.2-mile round-trip hike will get your heart pumping as you make your way to the summit with only a few steep sections along the way. If you’re looking for more adventure, you can also mountain bike this trail!
7. Terlingua Ghost Town
If you’re looking for a compelling, unforgettable experience in Big Bend National Park, look no further than the ghost town of Terlingua. It was once a thriving community full of bars, saloons, and brothels, centered on the base of one of the world’s largest and most colorful sand dunes – ghostly remnants of which remain today. Today, Terlingua is home to less than a dozen year-round residents who make their living as guides, shop owners, and artisans. The ghost town is a great location for sunset and sunrise shots with its eye-catching structures and beautiful landscapes.
8. Window Trail
The Window Trail is one of the best photography spots in the Big Bend National Park. The Window is an enormous hole that exposes a view of the desert up above. Trek down with your camera to capture the magnificent sunrise and sunset over the Texas-high desert terrain. Enjoy bird watching, hiking, and camping with family and friends!
9. Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
Explore the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. The trail winds through the river canyon and along the Rio Grande, where you can capture images of the dramatic landscape. This easy trail takes you past the ruins of homesteaders who set up camp in this area and try to tame it. It’s a good place to stop for your first glimpse of Texas’ natural beauty before heading out on some more rugged trails.
10. Boquillas Canyon Trail
Boquillas Canyon Trail is one of the most strenuous trails in Big Bend National Park, but it’s also one of the best places to photograph the desert landscape. The path leads down into a canyon through miles of desert flora where it crosses a river at the bottom before climbing back out. This trail offers spectacular views of deep canyons and towering cliff walls filled with vibrant succulent plants and cacti.
11. Windmill Around the Corner
Windmill Around the Corner offers one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. This enormous windmill tower stands above desert shrubs and cactus, seemingly suspended in the sky and surrounded by sky-high mountains on all sides. The views up here are incredible, and there’s a great boulder to climb fully turned towards the view for an even better shot. It’s surreal to just sit atop this structure and be surrounded by nothing but wide open space for miles.
Big Bend National Park Best Photography Spots
12. Cattail Falls
One of the most stunning spots in Big Bend National Park, Cattail Falls offers an idyllic setting for photographers and outdoor lovers alike. A beautiful waterfall that cascades over a sheer rock face, this spot offers both stunning views and exciting opportunities for adventure seekers.
Cattail Falls is one of the most picturesque and photogenic spots in Big Bend National Park. A short, easy hike from the park entrance will have you next to this cascading waterfall and series of swimming holes, which are perfect for wading and exploring. The hike is around 1.5 miles round-trip, although because there are so many photo opportunities surrounding the trail, you might actually spend all day there.
13. Emory Peak
Emory Peak is a popular destination for aspiring photographers and nature lovers. At the summit of Emory Peak, the Texas Big Bend region comes into its own. Its beauty and grandeur make it one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. The trail is long and challenging but with stunning views the whole way. As an added bonus, there are many beautiful en-route waterfalls.
Emory Peak is the highest point in Big Bend National Park, and one of the best photography spots in this stunning South Texas region. As you hike up the peaks, you’ll enjoy an incredible view of the Chisos Mountains and the surrounding desert landscape.
14. Mesa Pour-off Trail
The Mesa Pour-off Trail is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. The trail is part of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, which also offers several exhibits, including rock and mineral displays, plus hands-on activities for children. The path itself is a one-mile round-trip and will lead you to a lookout where you can see miles across the expanse of the desert below. There are also picnic tables there as well as an exhibit detailing the geology of the area. The hike is easy enough for hikers of all ages, though it’s best to bring bug spray if you plan on catching the sunset here.
15. Lost Mine Trail
The Lost Mine Trail offers a relatively easy trek that is not overly strenuous, making it one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. The trail leads to a historic mine site with some fantastic views of the surrounding desert and mountains. It’s also a great place to spot wildlife.
16. Fossil Discovery Exhibit
At the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, people can see how the plants and animals of Big Bend and the world they lived in changed over 130 million years. The fascinating story of Big Bend’s ancient life can be seen in the fossils and artwork found in the area. A short trail also leads to a panoramic view of interesting geological features nearby and shows how sediments protect the fossils in Big Bend.
The most awe-inspiring views of Big Bend National Park can be found here, at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit. The exhibit features the paleontological findings of a local fossil hunter, who has discovered the fossils in his own backyard. The highlight of this rocky riverbed is a 3-foot-wide triceratops skull which was discovered near Terlingua, Texas. It’s displayed with the bones of its front and back legs, as well as its skull and horns. For those whose curiosity about dinosaurs can’t be satisfied by small fossils like shark teeth and scorpion tails, this large group makes for a breathtaking view.
Big Bend National Park Best Photography Spots
17. Persimmon Gap
Discover why the Persimmon Gap is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. Explore a unique and diverse landscape with over 700 species of plants and animals, including mule deer, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, and more. Magnificent vistas and rich history combine with natural beauty for an unforgettable experience. Enjoy interactive content like maps, photos, and videos as you explore this stunning spot.
18. Chisos Mountain Range
The Chisos Mountains are one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. They offer an amazing 360-degree view of nature through a foreground bowl, tree line, and background mountains that seem to never end. See the park from high on top of these mountains in the Chisos Basin. If you love to hike, then the Chisos Mountain Range is for you. This is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park where photographers can take advantage of the beautiful rock formations and amazing views from the tops of Half Dome and Emory Peak. Plus, there are many backcountry hiking trails that lead to hidden gems like Conkle’s Castle, an enormous limestone formation with steep cliffs supporting a natural bridge.
19. Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert is one of the best photographic spots in Big Bend National Park, located in southwest Texas. This incredible location is home to stark contrasts. The desert is filled with vibrant blossoms and vast vistas but is subject to sudden rainstorms and summertime temperatures that can reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. While there are not a lot of things here for most people except for photographers there are many places to see that are great for photography enthusiasts.
20. Chisos Mountains
The Chisos Mountains are located in Big Bend National Park, Texas. With their peaks soaring above 8,000 feet, the mountains offer idyllic, unhurried views of sky, cacti, and mountains. The mountains also appear as a unique silhouette from many vantage points around the park. A favorite location for photographers, they attract visitors who want to capture undisturbed landscapes. The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park offer more than just stunning scenery; they are a photographer’s paradise, with vistas that include desert landscapes, mountain peaks, and cacti. The area was named for the Chinaberry trees that were once plentiful there.
21. Santa Elena Canyon
One of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon runs through a dramatic landscape of towering canyons, sheer walls, and rocky spires. Waterfalls spill over rocks into turquoise pools, while willow trees line the canyon providing a perfect backdrop to capture gorgeous photographs.
22. Rio Grande River
Rio Grande River is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. The river’s turquoise waters are framed by lush mesquite trees and grayscale rock formations. With a little more than an hour’s drive from Carlsbad Caverns, this is the perfect spot to spend a sunny day soaking up some sunshine while capturing photos.
23. Mule Ears Mountain
Mule Ears mountain is one of the best places to go for photography in Big Bend National Park. The mountain was formed by uplift and erosion, making the sandstone smooth, irregular and almost eroded to oblivion. The towering mule ears are a tent-shaped formation with two steep cliffs that rise above the desert floor, offering incredible views of both sides of the Chihuahuan Desert.
24. Mexican village of Boquillas del Carmen
Boquillas del Carmen is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. This small Mexican village on the Rio Grande River is just south of the park’s Rio Grande Village and offers amazing views of Mexico and Big Bend’s rugged canyons. You can walk across the river in this area to see it all up close, or just stop by for a quick photo on your way through Boquillas Canyon or Palo Alto. If you’re interested in visiting this town inside the U.S., please check out our Traveler’s Guide to Crossing The Border From Big Bend Into Mexico
25. Grapevine Hills
Grapevine Hills, the high ridge overlooking the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park, is one of the best photography spots in the park. While it is a short hike from the parking area, there are no established trails so be prepared to get your boots dirty. It’s a great place for families with young children, or those who want a quick hike to see the famous Chisos peaks. This trail starts on Rio Grande Village Road, then goes up and down staircases before leading directly to the summit where you can take in breathtaking views of Mule Ears Peaks, Castolon, and El Pueblo.
26. Balanced Rock Formation
The Balanced Rock formation is one of the best places to experience nature in Big Bend National Park. It’s easy to see why people say it looks like something out of a science fiction movie! This is where you will find the desert landscape at its most surreal, with jagged red rock formations and towering trees along the Chisos Mountains.
27. Ward Spring Trail
Ward Spring Trail is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park, giving you access to multiple waterfalls and other natural features. While this is an easy trail, you should still plan some time as it will take at least two hours to complete it. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for wildlife photos and once you get to the springs, there will be plenty of wading in clear pools to do.
28. Mesa De Anguilla
Mesa De Anguilla may be one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park, but it’s certainly not easy to reach. Only experienced hikers should attempt this trail, which features a convoluted 45-minute hike over high desert ridges, across sandy wash bottoms, and up steep slopes. At its best, it’s an unforgettably picturesque setting of cliffs and rocks, so close to the Rio Grande that you can feel the spray on your face. Along the way, you’ll see small waterfalls cascading from natural arches and caves formed by centuries of erosion by desert waters. You might just find yourself humming “Aquarius” – this is one place where you won’t need a shower afterward!
29. Melting Adobe Ruins
The Adobe Ruins are one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. Not only is it a great place to capture awesome portraits, but it’s also an opportunity to experience hiking in a desert environment, which is widely different than what most people consider hiking.
30. Chisos Mountains
The Chisos Mountains, the most famous feature of Big Bend National Park and a major photographic destination for photographers around the world escape the heat of their surrounding terrain by rising over 5,000 feet into the clouds. The highest peak in Big Bend, Emory Peak at 7,825 feet elevation, offers a 360-degree view from where you can see Mexico to the south and New Mexico to the north.
31. Tunnel on Hwy 118
A tunnel on Hwy 118 leads to one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park. Follow this road to a small gravel parking area, where there is an easy pebble trail that will lead you to a canvas tent set up on the ground. The tunnel sits atop a hill and is surrounded by arid desert terrain filled with cactus, cholla, yucca, and other native plants. After the sun sets, nearby rocks illuminate with the glow of the moon and stars. Make this your next spot for photography!
32. North Rim
Experience the classic beauty of the American Southwest in its most iconic national park. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is one of the best photography spots in Big Bend National Park, where you’ll have ample opportunities for sunrise and sunset photo ops.
This hike is considered moderately difficult, as it requires navigation skills and a proper packing list. Remember, you’ll need to bring your own water so be sure to include enough food and snacks to sustain you until nightfall, as multiple sources are few and far between on this trail. Be wary if you plan on doing this hike during monsoon season July to September which can cause flash floods that make trails impassible after rainstorms occur.
THESE ARE THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS IN BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
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