Located along a distinctive bend of the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexico border, the 801,832-acre wonderland of gorges, mountain peaks, canyons and mesas known as Big Bend National Park is often referred to as Texas’ Gift to the Nation.
Briefly a state park, Big Bend officially became Texas’s first national park on June 12, 1944. During the first year, it drew 1,409 visitors. The past few years have seen record attendance at the park. In 2021, more than 581,000 people visited Big Bend, a 25 percent increase since 2019 (464,000). In 2020, the park was shut down for more than three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a 49% increase since 2016 (390,000).
Despite the increase in visitors, Big Bend remains one of the least-visited parks of the federal park system. The National Park Service dubs it “one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States.”
From the archival rabbit hole, we unearthed several vintage photos of this Texas treasure. Scroll below for a step back in time.
Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.