Big Bend Named ‘Must-See’ Destination for 2023

Big Bend
Big Bend National Park | Image by Paul Leong

National Geographic Travel included Big Bend National Park in its recent Best of the World 2023 list.

The annual list catalogs 25 breathtaking places and experiences for 2023 that are “under the radar, ahead of the curve, and ready for you to start exploring,” according to its creators.

Destinations were categorized by CommunityNatureCultureFamily, and Adventure.

Big Bend National Park was listed in the Nature category, along with the Azores, Botswana, Slovenia, and the Scottish Highlands, as “5 wildly underrated natural escapes for 2023.”

In 2020, Big Bend hosted 394,000 visitors. While this number was 15% less than those seen in 2019 because the park was closed for three months during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 saw record-breaking numbers, reflecting a significant increase in park visitation.

After the park reopened, September through December had the highest monthly visitation figures for those months in the park’s history.

The upward trend continued in 2021, with a record of 581,000 people as travelers took advantage of the park’s open spaces and beautiful vistas.

Big Bend also attracts tourism to small-town communities located near the park, such as Marfa, Alpine, Presidio, Marathon, and Fort Davis. These towns all benefit from the travelers who stop on their way to Big Bend.

National Geographic’s list of destinations is themed around “travel destinations and experiences that leverage the benefits of tourism to strengthen their local communities, natural and built environments, and sense of place.”

The park is described by National Geographic as being in a “remote and arid part of west Texas,” which “nurtures more cactus species than any other national park, as well as birds such as roadrunners and bright yellow Scott’s orioles, and mammals such as javelina.”

Those planning a trip to Big Bend can check the park’s website for suggested itineraries depending on the desired duration of travel.

Visitors can glimpse the Chihuahuan Desert landscape while on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which leads to the banks of the Rio Grande. There are short walks to various historic ranches and the Castolon Historic District for those interested in the history and geology of the national park.

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