We stayed in section with full hook ups; beware, this is an actual parking lot. You are parked single file and together. Wished we had listened to reviews and filled our water tanks, dumped at their dump site and parked in the "primitive" area. Primitive area very nice, trees, lots of room. Do yourself a favor, park there and take your own water ;0)) Internet is very spotty. The laundry room has 3 washers (only 1 working) and 3 dryers (only 1 working), coin machine did not work and you pay to shower in their facilities. Lady working in store very nice and helpful. Guy not so nice. Big Bend is awesome and do yourself a favor and take side trip to Boquillas, Mexico. Nice lady in store can tell you all about it. When you get on other side of Rio Grande river asked for tour guide, Abraham he is wonderful !!!!!
I camped here four nights, and found it to be very quiet, and also convenient to the Boquillas crossing and the hot springs. The drive to Chisos for hiking is not bad, and that's what I did for three days (Window Trail, Emory Peak, and Lost Mines). The camp hosts are helpful, and during the time I was there, it was not crowded at all. Many empty campsites. Big Bend is an amazing, awe-inspiring experience. It's hard to believe that it is the least-visited national park, although it is quite remote. The store is very convenient, and it offers showers ($2 for 5 minutes). I was in camp site 98, and had plenty of room. It's close to the nature trail, too.
First, I should say that isn't a review of the park itself, which is lovely (and huge) and full of wildflowers when we visited. This is a review of the Rio Grande campground from the perspective of a tenter who traveled by plane with limited gear, the store, which is run by a third party, and indirectly the other campgrounds, which we checked out as well.
This is the only place in the park, which is the size of Rhode Island, that has showers. And, to make it more difficult, this campground is located at the far east end of the park, about 30 minutes to Chisos Basin, which is in the middle of the park. The showers are in the store, which is run by a company. They are open from 8-8. While we were there in the last week of March they decided to renovate the women's showers starting the Friday we got there, knowing it was the busiest month (no work happened on Sat and Sun of course). This left 3 showers in the men's room. Women were assigned 10-6 and men were assigned two hours on either end. It was not pretty and the heavily used showers were not cleaned enough, as in multiple giant hairballs on the floor. Lines got as long as 15 people, and timing was very hard for hiking further into the park.
Knowing there is a massive water shortage there, I was (sort of) accepting of the limited showers. However, all the bathrooms in the campground had toilets that flushed for a full 7 seconds. After a day of hiking in 95 degree heat with sticky suntan lotion all over, I would have traded an outhouse piss for a shower with the water wasted on the toilet. It was also hard to watch the store staff hose down the outside of the building for 3-4 hours one day. Chisos Basin, where there is more of a shortage still has flush toilets. I just didn't get it.
I believe the same company runs all the store in the park based on what was offered. If you don't eat processed food, you will find next to nothing to buy at these glorified gas stations. Nuts, apples, oranges, milk, and factory-farmed eggs were about it for non processed food. I wish the park would contract with the people who run the store in Terlingua -- it offered the processed stuff alongside healthy stuff.
Rio Grande Village does have some reserve-able sites in the middle. These didn't seem like the best sites to me though. The outer loops in the non generator section is where you will want to be if you are tent camping. They also offer more shade, though not a ton.
You are not allowed to hang anything on the trees, and they enforce this. I mention this because it was in the 90s and sunny at dinnertime and we were just melting but could have no shade because of this rule. Why they can't put in a couple of poles so that tenters could string up a tarp is a mystery. Between this and the shower issue, the place did not feel welcoming to tenters.
There are some sites with built shelters. You are lucky if you score one.
Most of the park, all of Chisos and Cottonwood, are non reserve-able. This is a terrible and stressful system during busy months. We were lucky to get our spot; if we had arrived in the afternoon, I don't know what we would have done. You are hours from a town. We wanted to stay at Chisos for a night, the ranger didn't know availability, so took our tent down at Rio Grande, drove to Chisos (in morning), stalked the sites hoping to get one, failed and drove back to Rio Grande, struggled to get a site there and set everything up again. Pain in the butt and the waste of the cooler hours of the day.
Chisos is the prettiest site for sure. Rio and Cottonwood are greener but less spectacular. Cottonwood is pretty primitive. Rio Grande has a lovely nature hike with a great hill to watch the sun rise. Rio Grande and Cottonwood have mosquitoes. They are very small but there are plenty of them when the wind isn't blowing.
Also, we didn't have much luck with the wi-fi at the store. Too slow to
facebook when I tried. I wouldn't count on it.
Having camped at Yosemite, Zion, Bryce, Sequoia, Big Basin, and the Grand Canyon, this campground experience didn't feel as up to snuff for the park system.
If we do it again, we will stay in Terlingua, outside of the park (the west side was gorgeous).
Seeing every National Park is one of my "bucket list" goals, so getting to Big Bend National Park was a major accomplishment after nearly three years of planning.
It should be said that this particular park is located in southwest Texas and is definitely NOT on the beaten path. Rio Grande Village is about 80 miles from the nearest town and about 20 miles from Panther Junction. There are not many facilities within the park, so make sure you do your due diligence before making the trip and plan accordingly. The National Park Service website is a valuable resource for information.
After looking at camping options, Rio Grande Village Campground seemed to be the best for us. We have a 27 foot Class C motorhome and prefer to have a more natural setting rather the typical RV parking lot facility. Rio Grande Village does have an RV area, which has hookups for those preferring all the amenities. The main campground is dry camping only.
Our site was located on the periphery of the campground, across the road and a short distance from the Rio Grande River and nature trail. The campground has several cottonwoods for shade, which would be beneficial in summer, as the temperature gets very hot here. In February, however, the weather was cool and breezy.
Each site has a food storage locker to keep items away from javalinas, which frequent the area, even though none were present to our knowledge during our stay. Sites are large and spread out, so there is ample room between sites. The campground wasn't particularly full during this time of year, however, the NPS states it can be very busy during spring break and summer months.
If you are concerned about availability, I would recommend making a reservation through Reserve America. A select number of sites can be reserved several months in advance.
There are bathroom facilities throughout the campground and showers are available at the village store. As mentioned in other reviews, they are coin operated and $1.50 for 5 minutes. Bring quarters or there is a change machine located outside the shower rooms in the Laundromat. There are 3 shower stalls in both the men's and women's area, so plan on timing your shower to avoid a crowd. I just missed the rush in late afternoon. The stalls are small and there are no benches, so I would recommend bringing only the essentials.
The store has basics and a few perishable items. The proprietor wasn't particularly warm and fuzzy, so don't expect to get much info unless you speak with a volunteer at the visitor center down the road. Even though there is a gas station, I would recommend filling up before coming into the park to avoid paying a premium for gas.
The nature trail is really nice, but we aborted our hike upon encountering Mexican nationals who had set up a blanket along the path with various items for sale. We had spoken with the ranger about this practice and there are signs posted throughout the park admonishing visitors that it is illegal to buy from them.
Sunsets were incredible, especially the reflection against the mountains above Boquillas Canyon. And the night sky is noted as being the best in the US for stargazing.
This is a really great, quiet campground set in an incredibly beautiful National Park. It was well worth our three-year wait to visit.
we are staying in the full hook up camp. Yes, it is a paved parking lot but you get two spaces. we backed our 38 ft. coach in with no problem and parked our truck next to it with about 10 feet in between vehicles. Behind the coach is all trees, real grass for the dogs!! a little irrigation stream that runs through the park and then the incredible vistas of the mountain cliffs. Plenty of room to set up chairs and cook out. It is very nice!!
Rigs are on both sides of this parking area but as I said, there is so much greenery, trees and mountains surrounding that it is still a stunning setting. We're here in Feb. and weather is incredible...sunny and warm days, cool nights. Plus we can get wifi in our coach from the store as we are on the end. There is no cell phone service nor mifi air card service, fyi.
We drove through the dry camping area and it was almost full. It has lots of shade trees but the sites aren't as big as other state and natl. parks and because of all the trees you didn't have the mountain views. I think the trees would be more welcome in summer. There's a 2 week limit to staying in the park. WIFI is good in early morning but of course, slows in afternoon and evening. we had no problem receiving satellite tv. We're home!!