Tips for Families Planning a Road Trip to Big Bend National Park

Introduction: What is the Hwy 127 & Why Should We Care?

In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration announced that a new highway- 17 miles- would be built connecting Houston to Big Bend National Park. The freeway that would be named the Loop around Big Bend (HWY 127) will connect with IH 10 and US 290 in Big Bend National Park. This connector will reduce 3 hours of driving time from Houston to the National Park. This route connects the major cities in Texas such as San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. It also connects many small towns like Marfa, Alpine and Marathon, as well as Big Bend National Park. This freeway is projected to open in 2022.
The main purpose of this road is to connect the major cities in Texas with the rest of the state (San Antonio, Dallas and Austin). The federal government has plans to expand the highway to connect with both I-10 and US 290. Sometimes they use this road as an alternative route to I-10 when there is heavy traffic on I-10. Most people who travel this road do so during weekends or holidays, because it usually takes much longer than usual.
The HWY 127 is the only road that connects the four major cities of Texas traveling east-west. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio have their own roads that travel in a circle or north-south.
Because this highway is often used by tourists who are looking for places to stay and things to do while they are visiting Texas, it has been called “The Loop around Big Bend National Park”. The highway is planned to open in 2022.
PROJECT: WHAT IS THE HWY 127 & WHY SHOULD WE CARE? – The Loop Around Big Bend National Park

houston to big bend national park
houston to big bend national park

Planning your Trip to Big Bend National Park and Tips for a Successful Visit

If you are thinking of traveling to Big Bend National Park, first get there. There are several ways to get there. The easiest is to take IH 10 through the park. But if you do decide this option, expect a LOT of traffic. To reduce the hassle of a long drive, plan your trip on weekends because traffic is usually worse and sometimes impossible on weekdays. If you are driving, IH 10 is the way to go. To avoid traffic and get to your destination faster, take the HWY 118 route to Del Rio, and follow HWY 173 north to Presidio. If you need a quicker route (which I highly recommend), fly into Midland/Odessa airport then drive west on HWY 385.
First things first, once you get there, DON’T PANIC! You will be overwhelmed by the scenery and surroundings. Don’t worry, it is normal. The best thing to do once arriving is to find a campsite and set up camp. You don’t want to miss out on all the fun we have planned for you! Once your camp is set up and comfortable, get out and explore! Big Bend National Park has plenty of hiking trails along with many different attractions to see. Hiking is fun and satisfying as well as a great way to see the park. Have fun!
*When you are in the park there are numerous places to obtain maps and guidebooks to help you get the most out of your Big Bend experience. Here is a list of the national park oriented resources available from several sources:

houston to big bend national park
houston to big bend national park

What Should Families Carry in Their Car and Here are Some Essentials

When traveling in the desert, you should always carry 4 and 7. Bring 4-fold: water, food, battery/MP3 player (if they want to listen to music), and cell phone. If you want to conserve fresh water, bring a gallon jug/plastic bottle filled with water. If you are going to hiking or climbing in the mountains, bring at least 7 water bottles. Bring spare batteries for MP3 players or cameras. Also remember that you should bring any important papers and IDs just in case of an emergency.
What should you bring? Here are some essentials:
– Water, at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. You can also bring powdered drink mix to flavor the water. Just make sure the drink mix does not have any added caffeine or other stimulants because these drinks will dehydrate your body.
– Extra food for a day (snacks like granola bars and bagels). If you are camping, carry protein bars and beef jerky.
– Cash.
– First aid kit with bandages and antiseptics, scissors and other medical supplies.
– Sunblock, insect repellent and a hat.

houston to big bend national park
houston to big bend national park

Packing Suggestions for Long-Distance Travelers and Things You Need To Know About Strip Joints on Route 66

Pack light. It is HOT in the desert, so pack accordingly! Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen (it is very easy to burn), and a scarf if you need it. Wear synthetic clothing that dries quickly and is easy to wash. Pack light because your hotel rooms will be small and there will be no room for storage. If you are driving, bring snacks, a cooler for food and drinks, jackets, and blankets. Bring something to put over your seats because the seats will get hot. If you are flying, bring a pillow or pillow case and blankets. Do not bring big bags on the plane because they will have to be gate checked and you won’t have a place to put your carry on. If you are driving, bring a cooler for food and drinks.
If you plan to visit the parks in southern Arizona, pack light because it will be so hot! Bring long sleeved shirts, lightweight pants/jeans, hats/scarves for sun protection, and sunscreen. Also pack water bottles and snacks for your road trip.

houston to big bend national park
houston to big bend national park

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