5 Kid Friendly Hikes in Big Bend

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Hiking with kids can be challenging! Going into our Big Bend trip I knew there were some awesome longer hikes that we’d love to do but they just weren’t a reality for our 11, 9 and 6 year old children. Whenever we plan a trip I like to head to pinterest/the internet and find different areas that we’d like to see and visit but when searching “Big Bend” and “children” I didn’t find much! So here is a quick post of the 5 best hikes that I’d recommend when visiting with children!

Rio Grande Village Nature Trail – .75 mile loop

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This was one of my favorite sunset views! This is an easy hike with a bit of climbing upwards but on an easy path and the views are well worth it!

Hot Springs Historic Trail – 1 mile round trip

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Bring a swimsuit and take this easy flat walk to the hot springs! The kids loved it and enjoyed swimming in the river. We went here twice during our trip and highly recommend it!

Santa Elena Canyon Trail – 1.7 miles round trip

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Come here and expect to get a little wet! The kids loved skipping rocks and playing in the water. We then hiked along the edge of the canyon. It’s a bit of a climb up but nothing too tiring. You don’t have to do the whole thing even, you can hike up and walk along the trail a bit and still get a great view!

Grapevine Hills Trail – 2.2 miles round trip

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This is the trail you take to see the balanced rock! This trail is 3/4 easy and then the last 1/4 is hiking/climbing UP. My 6 year old needed Daddy’s help a good bit while climbing the rocks so I would imagine this one would have been tough had we come years ago when the kids were smaller. The end is well worth it!! But walking this trail with the kids definitely felt MUCH longer than 2.2 miles lol. But it’s one of the shorter long trails, so if you only pick one long hike I recommend this one!

Fossil Discovery Exhibit

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And last but not least go visit the Fossil Discovery Exhibit!! This isn’t a hike, though you can walk around a bit around the building, but this is definitely worth visiting if you have children with you. You’ll learn about what Big Bend used to look like years and years ago and see some pretty cool dinosaur bones!

(And one more thing I think you should do while in Big Bend!)

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If you’re able, definitely plan a river trip! This was the highlight of the trip for all of us and definitely something I’d recommend you do if you can 🙂 There are a few different places that offer river tours, we used Far Flung and highly recommend them!

We loved our trip to Big Bend! Taking the kids to beautiful places and letting them explore is one of my favorite things to do. One of the best parts about my husband being a Marine is that we get to move all over the country and explore places we probably never would have seen otherwise. Can’t wait to take the kids somewhere again!

Big Bend National Park – Day 3

Our last day in Big Bend we went to Santa Elena Canyon! This was really cool to see, again it’s right on the border of the United States and Mexico. IMG_3856-Edit-Edit

The kids loved playing in the river and skipping rocks! The weather also happened to be perfect this day! While playing in the river I saw something move out of the corner on my eye and realized it was a SNAKE. IMG_3863-Edit-Edit

That thing was pretty big and was probably right next to me and I didn’t even notice it haha. Thankfully it just slithered away across the river. IMG_3857-Edit-Edit

There’s a trail that follows along the edge of the canyon here too. You’ll get a bit wet so it’s a good place to bring river shoes if you have any.

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That’s a couple pictures from the walk back, the views were awesome!

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The kids played a bit more in the water and I took a ton of photos of the same view apparently lol. Afterwards we drove to a near by rangers station and ate lunch on their picnic table and then the kids turned in their Jr. Rangers packets and got a badge a patch! Definitely stop by one of the stations and pick up an activity book if you have kids along with you! Later in the evening we went back to the Rio Grande Hot Springs Trail and swim in the hot springs and river. It was a nice relaxing way to end our trip! We had such a great time on our first camping trip and can’t wait to do it again some time. If you have any questions about visiting Big Bend comment below!!

Big Bend National Park – Day 2

We started off day two with an early wake up and drive to Far Flung Adventures to canoe down the Rio Grande! This was one of the top things we wanted to do during our trip and it didn’t disappoint! We did a half day trip through Far Flung and it was so much fun. The kids LOVED it and they all said it was their favorite part of the trip as well. It’s a bit pricey, honestly everything is pricey when you have a lot of kids lol, but is definitely worth it if you can swing it.

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Getting pictures while canoeing by myself with an 11 year old was not the easiest task lol. As soon as I’d pull out my camera from the dry bag, inevitably we’d be heading right towards the banks! But I’m glad I grabbed a couple, the scenery was awesome. The United States is on the left and Mexico is on the right, we canoed right down the border!

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We stopped about half way through and took a quick snack break. We stopped on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, so the kids can officially say they’ve been to Mexico!

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Loved, loved it! Even got someone to take a picture of all of us…

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We ate lunch in Terlingua which is a tiny tiny town outside Big Bend and then headed to the Balanced Rock trail. We read that it was only 1.2 miles (meaning 2.4 there and back) and we figured it’d be a nice and easy hike with the kids.

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These little guys were everywhere during this hike!

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3/4 of the hike is flat and then the last 1/4 mile you’re hiking up the mountain to get to the balanced rock. I’m not sure if we’re just super out of shape but this hike for sure felt longer than 1.2 miles lol. I figured it’d take us about an hour total there and back. Not so much…. It took us around 2 1/2 hours! We of course had little kids with us and stopped for a snack at the top plus a couple water breaks but after this hike I knew we probably didn’t have a 3/4 miler in our future this trip haha. Maybe next time 😉

Later that evening we drove over to the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. This was a great easy hike to do with the kids and ended up being one of my favorite views from the whole trip! I didn’t get many photos this evening but here’s the sunset view!! All the heart eyes on this one!

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Big Bend National Park – Day 1

Big Bend was even prettier than I thought it would be! The mountains are beautiful and we really loved our trip. We camped out at the Chisos Mountain campground which I had made reservations for about 4 months prior. This campground only takes reservations part of the year, so keep that in mind if you’re planning a trip there yourself. Big Bend is HUGE, like seriously it could take you almost 2 hours to drive across the whole thing. The Chisos Mountain campground is right in the middle and we definitely recommended camping there if possible. The Rio Grande Village campground is at the far east end of the park and you will be driving a very long way to a large majority of the sites and hikes. Even from the Chisos Mountain campgrounds we would have to drive 45+ minutes to the various hikes. IMG_9627-Edit

Right down in the middle is where we camped! I didn’t know how “in the mountains” we would be til we got there! We were literally right in the mountains and it was awesome. IMG_9641-EditIMG_9639-EditIMG_9632-Edit

The first day we arrived in the afternoon, set up camp and started dinner right away. Having never camped before I was a bit worried about cooking solely on a grill (no campfires are allowed at Big Bend!) We tried to bring as easy of meals as we could and thankfully they were all delicious and everyone was happy!

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That evening we went to the Hot Springs Trail which was a nice easy trail to start with. We didn’t swim this evening but ended up going there our last night as well and swimming in the hot springs and the Roi Grande and it was so refreshing! Definitely a nice easy trail to head to if you have children!

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At the start of the trail we saw these trinkets for sell that are from people across the border! So crazy! They “hide out” in a little hut right across the river and I guess come over every now and then to collect the cash. I’m sure the rangers don’t really want you to buy from them but the kids thought they were so cool and we did end up getting a couple on out last visit.

Still working through the rest of the photos but I’ll be back with more soon!

Our first camping trip! – Big Bend National Park

We just returned home from our first ever camping trip! We spent three nights tent camping at Big Bend National Park in the Chisos Mountains and loved it! Going into it I wasn’t quite sure if we would survive or not but I’m happy to say not only did we survive but we’d do it again! I have lots of photos to go through and VIDEOS even (my favorites!) and can’t wait to share them all. For now, here are some pictures from their new Fossil Discovery Exhibit. The kids LOVED this place. It was actually the very first thing we did after driving into the entrance and I’m so glad we stopped to check it out. It was filled with information about what the park looked like millions of years ago and various fossils that were found in the park. It was also a page in the kids Junior Ranger packet that they had a blast filling out so another reason to stop by as well. If you’re ever at Big Bend, definitely stop by and take a little break from the heat and learn more about the park!IMG_9588-EditIMG_9591-EditIMG_9596-EditIMG_9598-EditIMG_9605-EditIMG_9608-EditIMG_9616-EditIMG_9623-Edit

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Playing Tourist!

One of our favorite things to do is get out and explore our duty stations! I absolutely love to visit new places and find local things to do wherever we get stationed. This duty station was a bit different for us because we got lucky and Brian got orders to where we both grew up. We both are from north Texas, Carrollton to be exact, so when we got orders to Plano 2 year ago we were very excited to move back “home” for a bit! The majority of our family still lives nearby which has been awesome for our kids. This weekend 3 outta 4 kids went to visit my Dad (Quinn was sick) which they love doing! Today Quinn was feeling better so we decided to head to Ft. Worth and mess around a bit. First we headed to Clearfork Food Park for lunch, which is filled with awesome food trucks! And then we headed over to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. There’s no admission cost to visit which is awesome! Definitely visit if you’re ever in the area!!

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It was so fun to get to hang out with Quinn for a bit all on his own! We normally of course have all the kids and let me just tell you, going somewhere with one kid verses FOUR?! It was a breeze lol. IMG_8608-EditIMG_8624-Edit2IMG_8615-EditIMG_8626-EditSomeone was nice enough to offer to take a photo of the three of us, which was awesome! But an out of focus photo is what happens 99% of the time when I hand off my camera lol. IMG_8612-Edit

Then we headed into the Japanese Gardens which was beautiful! This part of the gardens does have an admission price. But Brian got in free for being military, which is always appreciated!

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Bring quarters along with you and you can get food to feed the koi fish. These things will swarm to you when someone starts to feed them, pretty crazy!IMG_8655-EditIMG_8659-EditIMG_8663-EditIMG_8668-EditIMG_8669-EditIMG_8675-EditIMG_8678-EditIMG_8683-Edit

So glad we decided to check this place out today! The weather was perfect and it’s a very pretty park (especially since it’s FREE lol.)