Photos and text by Jim Manhart

Map and all other sorts of assistance by Nanette Manhart

Graphics and editing by Monique Reed

These pages were constructed from photographs and notes taken during a series of trips to the park from 1990 to 1997. The focus of this work is on the vegetation and there are links from the various plant families to pages that will allow you to explore and obtain more information on these plants.

There is very little public land in Texas and Big Bend National Park provides a rare opportunity to spend some time in an area that is probably the closest thing that you can get to virgin wilderness in the Southwestern U.S. You can see many beautiful sights from your vehicle but the park is best experienced from the hiking trails. However, visitors to the area should realize that this is a place that can extract a high price if proper precautions are not taken. If you get your $40,000 SUV stuck on one of the jeep trails, you had better be equipped to walk out. It is brutally hot in the summertime so plan to visit sometime from the middle of Fall through early Spring. The Chisos Mountains are high enough that there is a large temperature differential between them and the desert floor but always take large quantities of water whenever and wherever you go hiking. Snow and ice can catch you by surprise in the mountains and there will be no trace of it in the rest of the park. This is a place of extremes. Get some good maps and talk to the rangers at the visitors centers about weather conditions, hike difficulties, mountain lion sightings, etc. before going on the trails. A number of trails can be accessed from the Chisos Basin--it is a very good place to start if you can find a space in the lodge (reservations required, about a year in advance) or the campground.

You can go directly to the various areas by clicking on the text links below or go to a map that will give you an idea of where everything is located and hit the trails from there. The ratings below are subjective and assume that you are in good physical condition. Try some of the easier hikes first to get an idea of how you will fare on the longer ones.


Burro Mesa Pouroff - A fairly short and easy hike in a stream bed

Dagger Flats - Auto trail

Hot Springs - Short and easy hike

Lost Mine Trail (Chisos Mountains) - Moderate length with some steep climbing

Santa Elena Canyon - Short hike, but some climbing required to see canyon up close

Snow on the Mountains (Chisos Mountains) - A big surprise

South Rim (Chisos Mountains) - Long and strenuous hike

Warnock Center -Easy access

Window Trail (Chisos Mountains) - Moderate length and difficulty


Questions about Big Bend and its plants should be directed to Dr. Jim Manhart
Questions or problems with the web page should be directed to Monique Reed
This document is a product of the Herbarium of the Biology Department at Texas A&M, in cooperation with the Bioinformatics Working Group and Center for the Study of Digital Libraries at A&M. Contents are for educational purposes only.