Big Bend National Park

Learn about camping and boondocking at Big Bend National Park in Texas

Is Boondocking Allowed in Big Bend National Park?

Is Boondocking Allowed in Big Bend National Park?


Yes and no. Boondocking and dispersed camping is not technically allowed in Big Bend National Park. However, the park does have 64 primitive backcountry “roadside campsites”. These are effectively what most people refer to as “designated dispersed camping”, and for all intents and purposes, these sites give you the same isolation and wilderness-immersion as boondocking. Read more to learn more about these.

boondocking big bend national park
Camping in the Pine Canyon area of Big Bend National Park

Is Boondocking Allowed in Big Bend National Park?

Boondocking and dispersed camping is NOT allowed in Big Bend National Park. However, the park does offer a total of 64 “primitive backcountry roadside campsites”. Each of these sites are marked by a numbered sign and come with a storage box.

Most of these sites are individual campsites spread out far enough so that you won’t have to hear (and in some cases not even see) other campers. However, there are few sites that adjoin each other. For the most part, it’s just like boondocking, though it’s not free.

However, if your goal is to camp immersed into the geologic wonders of Big Bend National Park, this is the only way to do it.

Rules for Backcountry Roadside Campsites

To read the full set of rules for backcountry roadside campsites, visit Big Bend National Park website.

Backcountry Camping Permits Are Required – These can be obtained either in person at Panther Junction or Chisos Basin Visitor Centers, at least 24 hours in advance of your first night’s stay. They can also be obtained online from Cost is $10.00 per night, or $5.00 with a Senior Access Pass.

14-Day Maximum Per Campsite – You have a total allotment of 28 days total camping inside Big Bend National Park that you can spread out over multiple roadside campsites or campgrounds. However, during the period of January 1, to April 15, you can only use 14 of those days.

Generators Are Not Allowed at Anytime – This refers to fuel-based generators, with no exceptions. Solar-powered generators are fine.

Campfires Are Not Allowed – All fires are limited to gas-powered cooking stoves.

You Can Poop and Pee into the Ground – However, you must dig a hole and bury your waste. All toilet paper must be tossed into a trash receptacle.

Rules that Apply to All National Parks

These rules were adopted by the National Park Service and apply to all national parks…

  • You Must Camp Only in Areas That Are Designated For Camping – Keep all vehicles and belongings inside the designated roadside campsite.
  • Do Not Dig or Level the Ground at your Campsite – You are not allowed to alter the campsite.
  • Pets Have to be Restrained At All Times – Either keep them in your vehicle, inside a cage, or on a leash no longer than six feet.
  • State and Local Laws Do Not Apply to National Parks – The laws of Texas do not apply to Big Bend National Park, however the park has plenty of its own rules. Refer to, “Do State and Local Laws Apply to Federal Lands“.

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