Park History

Park History

Discover Centuries of History in One Place

For years, people have passed through Big Bend to find their way to Mexico. Big Bend National Park is home to centuries worth of history dating back to 10,000 BC to the Paleo Indians.

Paleo Indians were the first known settlers in 10,000 BC after the Ice Age. Thousands of years later, Spanish Missions traveled through the area and found nomadic people living in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend.

Several years later, in the 1800s, it became known that there were fertile floodplains near the Rio Grande River within Big Bend. Ranchers and farmers began migrating to Big Bend to seek out the fertile land and began farming and raising livestock.

Following World War 2, Big Bend National Park became Texas’ gift to the Nation in an effort to boost morale within the country. In 1944, Big Bend became a national park. Thousands more ranchers, farmers and settlers flooded Big Bend with hopes for a new future in Texas.


Big Bend National Park has been protected since its initial founding in 1933 as Texas Canyons State Park. After the Congressional acquisition of the park, Big Bend National Park opened to visitors in 1944.

Since the opening of Big Bend National Park, the lands and skies have been protected. In 2012, the national park was designated a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park. Because of Big Bend’s remote nature, light pollution has very minor impacts on the skies and land. On most clear nights, visitors can see the Milky Way.

Leave No Trace

In part of protecting and preserving Big Bend National Park, the National Park Service has implemented a seven-principle initiative for guests to follow while visiting: Leave No Trace. These principles help guests preserve and protect the lands while visiting to ensure the national park is protected for future generations.