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Beginning In 2020, Big Bend National Park To Increase Camping Fees And Change Camping Reservations

By Carlos Morales

Starting in January, Big Bend National Park officials will make changes to the park’s camping reservation system and will increase its camping fees.

On Jan. 15, the number of campsites available to visitors looking to plan a trip to the 800,000-acre national park will "significantly increase," according to park officials. Beginning next year, the cost of reserving campsites will increase too.

"We've heard loud and clear that people want us to expand the park's reservation system, and I'm excited that we're able to respond," said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker in a press release announcing the reservation changes.

In February, park officials will also add 58 backcountry permits to the soon-to-be revamped online reservation system. Previously, all backcountry permits were issued in person at park facilities like Panther Junction.

Campsite Reservation Changes

  • Chisos Basin: Two-thirds of campsites now open for reservations, six months in advance. One-third to remain on first come first serve basis.
  • Rio Grande Village: Two-thirds of campsites now open for reservations, six months in advance. One-third to remain on first come first serve basis.
  • Cottonwood Campground: No changes. Reservations remain first come first serve.

Proposed Fee Increases

Officials at Big Bend National Park will also increase camping fees, which could generate more than $100,000 each year, according to park staff. As mandated by the federal government, about half of that revenue would go toward reducing the park’s roughly $90-million backlog of deferred maintenance. The rest of the expected revenue would pay for the online reservation system the park is using and for improvements across the park.

Passes for campsites will generally increase a few dollars, and group camping fees would change from an individual-based fee to a group-based fee. Visitors with an Interagency Senior Pass or Access Pass can expect to receive a 50% discount on camping fees.

  • Developed campsites: $16 per night.
  • Backcountry campsites: $10 per night
  • Group campsites:
    • Groups of up to 14 people, $40 per night.
    • Groups of up to 25 people, $60 per night.
    • Groups of up to 40 people, $100 per night.
Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.