The one stop shop for Big Bend National Park + Big Bend State Park Texas wedding/elopement planning and packages
So you are thinking about eloping in the wild west? There are few places I have been that have the wild wonder of Big Bend. The incredible views from the Chisos Mountains, the Ocotillo, the Rio Grande, and the sheer vastness in space makes a Big Bend elopement a great choice for any couple who wants to get married somewhere truly wild. Like Beth said in Yellowstone, “I want a place with no memories. A place where nothing happened until we happened.”, this can truly be your Big Bend experience.
Hold your horses though, because it’s not as easy as throwing on your hiking boots heading down to Santa Elena Canyon- there are some things we have to talk about first. But don’t worry, we know Big Bend like the back of our hand and we are here to share everything we know with you, soon you’ll be out running through the desert, getting ready to marry your one true love!
Also, if you’re wanting a location like Big Bend to get married in but some of your family members are physically impaired (read our blog here), not to worry, we have that all taken care of!
Guide to the Guide:
If you are wondering when the best time to visit Big Bend National Park for your elopement is, then look no further. Big Bend is in the desert, which means that weather can find itself in the extremes. This is especially true during the summer months when temperatures can easily reach over 100 on the desert floor. Because of these extreme summer temperatures, Big Bend’s busy season is normally opposite to other national parks. Prime Big Bend travel dates will be October, November, March and April. We aren’t the only people who think Big Bend is amazing in these months, in fact, it seems like everyone does. Tourism can be pretty high during these months while lodging inside the park easily booking out a year in advance. Thankfully Big Bend as a whole sees far less visitors on average per year than other similarly sized national parks. We are pretty familiar with Big Bend and can help you find more private locations, even on the busiest of days (yes, even during spring break, we’ve done it before!) Below is a chart that can help you visualize the best time of year to visit the park, and when you should elope in Big Bend.
Keep in mind that these are average temperatures and temps. on the desert floor and easily be TWENTY DEGREES HOTTER THAN THE FORECASTED TEMPERATURE for the day. Practice hot weather safety and bring appropriate water and gear. See our guide as to what to do if you have Inclement Weather on the day of your elopement and one of our favorite elopements during rainy day season out at Big Bend- Amanda + Jonathan
March and April are our favorite times to visit Big Bend. While you always run the risk of it being hot, these are the best times to visit if you want to see the plants in bloom. The temperatures are perfect for that early morning hike to the top of the chisos or for an early morning dip in the Hot Springs. Do note that March is Spring Break and can be busy in any park. Additionally, the biggest travel days for Big Bend are Friday, Saturdays and Sundays while Tuesday and Wednesday are the least busy. This is a great time in the year to take a kayak tour or Canoe down the Rio Grande as the river is flowing.
Sometimes May starts to bring the heat into triple digits and if this happens we encourage a sunrise ceremony. Do be wary that sometimes if the heat index gets too high and rangers will ask that you be off the trails by 10am.
We do not shoot elopements in Big Bend in the summer season unless it’s at one of our venues we refer out. The temperatures on the floor can get well over 115º and the vastness of the park and lack of water access throughout can make for a pretty dangerous situation. Several people die each year out here because of the heat and we don’t want that to be you (or us)! If you are super passionate about eloping in West Texas during the Summer consider an elopement at the Gage Hotel, El Cosmico or Al Fresno in Marfa, Texas. These places will allow for a killer West Texas elopement vibe and still give you access to things like air conditioning and water.
Big Bend in the fall is one of our most favorite times to visit the park. The temperatures are very tolerable and the nights are still cool but not freezing. It’s a great time of year to explore the park all day and then wrap it up with a campfire and some stargazing. Big bend in one of the few certified dark sky places in the United States and the sky is truly unreal. You can actually see the Milky Way with your own eyes, no telescope needed. It’s incredible, especially when we are doing star shots for our couples!
Believe it or not Winter can actually be the best time to Elope out in Big Bend. Especially, if you are interested in going on an overnight backpacking trip, or a longer trail winter is a great time because the temperatures stay in the 40s, 50s and 60s. While the cactus aren’t as colorful as they usually are, the desert terrain doesn’t change TOO much as winter takes hold. While other spots in Texas become obviously dead, like Hill Country, the mountains still take your breath away out at Big Bend.
There are literally endless amazing locations to elope in Big Bend. Unlike many larger national parks, there is no pre-approved list of locations that you must stick to for an elopement. You can do almost anywhere, you just need the appropriate permit (more on that later). Here is our list of our favorite, and most iconic places to elope in Big Bend.
Santa Elena Canyon
Santa Elena is the massive canyon the Rio grande runs through, separating the US and Mexico border. The spot is easily accessible, requiring only a short walk down a flat, sandy trail. Since it’s super beautiful, and easy to get to, this spot can be crowded at peak times. If you want a less crowded view, try the Santa Elena Overlook or aim for going right before sunset when the crowds start to thin out and the lighting is perfectly shining through the massive canyon. Here are our favorite blogs with a Santa Elena Canyon ceremony
Veronica + Edward Big Bend Santa Elena Canyon elopement and blood moon reception
Pedro + Stephanie Big Bend Santa Elena ceremony elopement and airbnb campfire reception
Lost Mine Summit
The lost mine Summit is easily the best view in the park. Looking out over the crawling Chisos Mountains the Lost Mine Summit delivers an iconic, and breathtaking view. This location does require hike up the mountain, coming in at almost 6 miles round trip and over 1400 feet of elevation gain. Its not an easy hike, but it is doable, even for less-experienced hikers. The hike can get pretty crowded during the day, so opt for an early hike to get to the summit by sunrise. This gives you almost complete privacy as you and your partner get to witness a stunning Texas sunrise together. If you do hike this during the day please be prepared and bring enough water and coverage as this trail offers little shade, and gets pretty warm even during the cooler winter months. Here are just a few of our favorite Lost Mine-
Logan + Kimmy Lost mine Big Bend Elopement and basin reception
Ashley + Micheal Lost Mine Big Bend Elopement and airbnb reception
This overlook is one of our favorite sunset places in the park! Outside of the busy season this area sees relatively few visitors and always has space. A fantastic place to end your day and watch the giant orange sunset over the desert. No hike required, just park your car, get out, and you’re there! There is even a bathroom (albeit just a hole in the ground toilet) for you to use here!
Located in the heart of the Chisos Basin, this short (and paved!) trail offers some fantastic sunset views of the Window. Not to be confused with the Window Trail (a 5 miles hike) this trail offers a simple loop near the developed basin. With fantastic sunset views, and easy access, this trail can get crowded during peak Big Bend travel dates.
Note: National Parks are public spaces, and even with a permit you cannot guarantee solitude. If this is something you are passionate about, reach out. We would love to share with you an extensive Big Bend Locations guide, exclusive for booked couples, that details more than 20 locations for you to elope in Big Bend.
Katherine + Taylor Big Bend Basin Elopement with campfire reception
We get this question a lot, “how do you elope in Texas” “how do you elope in Big Bend”. There are literally endless amazing locations to elope in Big Bend. Unlike many larger national parks, there is no pre-approved list of locations. This is awesome but just means that we want to respect the park rules and regulations that much more so Big Bend can continue to be an amazing place for folks just like you to get married to!
If you are interested in Eloping in Big Bend, you will need a Special Use Permit. Don’t Fret! Permits aren’t as scary as they sound. I can help you fill out your permit and send it to the appropriate people as soon as we have a location and timeline solidified. The permit cost is currently only $50 and goes toward maintaining the beauty of Big Bend.
Please note that if you are choosing to Elope in Big Bend that you are eloping on public lands. It is imperative that we follow leave no trace principles while using these magnificent lands. Some things that Big Bend requires of couples on their elopement day are as follows:
By following these guidelines and making sure that we stay on allocated pathing and viewing areas we can help preserve these natural habitats for future generations. Maybe even one day, you’ll come back and share in the beauty of Big Bend again together.
To get legally married you will need a marriage license. If you are eloping from out of state, you are legally allowed to get a license from most Texas County Clerk offices, but it’s always good to double check ahead of time. If you are a Texas resident you can pick up a Texas Marriage License from your local county courthouse. I would recommend not waiting until you get out to Big Bend to get a license for 2 reasons.
1) There is a 72 hour waiting period in Texas between when you can pick up your license and when you can get married.
2) Big Bend is sparse, and there are not many County Clerk offices, there is no guarantee one will be open or have availability to see you.
If you are coming from out of state and you get your marriage license from your home state PLEASE check in with your local county clerk to see what requirements are needed. For example Texas does not require witness signatures while other states do.
You have a couple of options when it comes to an officiant in Texas. You legally must have one sign your license to make your wedding official SO what can you do? Here are our top 5 options.
After your amazing elopement day in Big Bend you will need to find a place to get some rest. There are a few towns close to Big Bend each with their own amazing accommodations. I would recommend booking lodging as soon as you know you will be eloping in Big Bend because there aren’t very many places. ESPECIALLY if you are looking for a date near a holiday.
Terlingua is the closest town to Big Bend, at only a 15 minute drive to the entrance, and offers a great selection of places to stay some of our favorites are The Willow House, The Local Chapter, Summit Big Bend, Starstruck Glamping, and Basecamp Terlingua.
Alpine is the largest town to Big Bend and offers more accommodations and chain hotels. However, be aware that Alpine is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from the Big Bend entrance. This does not include any travel inside the park which can easily add another hour onto your travel time. There are lots of chain hotels you can stay at in Alpine.
Marathon is a cute little town located about 40 minutes outside the entrance of Big Bend. There aren’t many places to stay but lots of folks opt for The Gage Hotel when in the area. This hotel doubles as a great venue for an intimate wedding, but be warned it books out months in advance.
Marfa is a famous art town located almost 2 hours from Big Bend. If you want a unique, funky vibe this can be a great place to stay. Some of our favorite places are El Cosmico, Hotel Paisano, The Thunderbird Hotel, Hotel Saint George or check out airbnb for some other unique stays.
Lajitas is the second closest town to Big Bend, at only 30 minutes away from the park entrance. This small town offers the famous Lajitas Golf Course Lodge, which offers great accommodations and even a few delicious places to eat.
In Big Bend
If you want the full Big Bend experience you can try to get lodging inside the park. It is recommended you book a year in advance for prime dates so be aware. Lodging inside the park is located inside the Chisos basin and is super quaint. Be aware that some of the cabins don’t have AC so they can get toasty in the summer.
Inside the National Park
Big Bend offers a lot of camping spots as well as within backcountry. If you’re wanting to truly experience all that Big Bend has to offer, this might not be something you want to miss if you are an outdoorsman. We like to use this 9 person instant 14′ x 9′ tent for campsites. It’s large, easy to carry and set up!
These are some of our favorite moments from other real couples who decided to elope in Big Bend. Each wedding is incredibly unique and fun! Follow us on Instagram or check out our blog for more inspo.
Big Bend Elopement Tips and Tricks
Big Bend is pretty remote, which can make travel a bit more complicated. If you live in Texas, it would probably be easier for you to just drive down to Big Bend, but if you wanted to fly here are a few options. You can fly into Dallas or Austin, rent a car and drive about 7ish hours. Or fly into El Paso or Midland, rent a car and drive for 4 hours. Finally, there is an airport in Terlingua if you happen to own and fly your own private plane.
Next, gas stations are few and far between. If you are driving, be sure to stop in Alpine or Marathon to fill up on gas since those are the last gas stations until Terlingua/Big Bend. Also make sure you have enough gas in your tank if you are headed into a big bend as most places in big bend are at least an hour away from each other.
Finally, Big Bend is on the Mexico border. There is even a border crossing in Boquillas canyon if you want to bring your passport and slip into Mexico for an afternoon of tacos. This means that on your way out of Big Bend you will have to stop at an ICE checkpoint. You don’t have to have your passport on you, just a license.
There is very little service once you leave Alpine or Marathon and head into Big Bend, I have zero service in most of the park (except for randomly at the top of lost mine trail). So make sure you download the Big Bend offline map so that you can navigate your way around the park and surrounding towns.
Invest in an Elopement Photographer
We have poured out hearts about Big Bend in this blog! But did you know that this is only a LITTLE fraction of the information that we have about the area. It’s so important to hire an experienced elopement photographer to help you plan your day. There are always things that can come up, or change the plans at the last minute (like the crazy monsoon season this year that closed down several roads and popular elopement locations). We are extremely familiar with the area and spend half our year out in the Big Bend region. We have tons of tips and tricks to help bring your dream elopement day to life. Are you ready to get started?
For more information check out our pricing page texaselopement.com/packages or reach out to us to schedule your free elopement consultation!
Are you ready to Elope in Big Bend? If so, reach out and lets get started planning your Texas Adventure Elopement.