Day Trips: Boquillas Port at Big Bend National Park
Updated: Nov 29
Boquillas Port of Entry, located along the river on the southeast side of Big Bend National Park, is a portal to a whole new world for many visitors to Big Bend. The port is the only U.S. access to this humble community of around 300 villagers, who live in the most remote part of Coahuila, Mexico just across the Rio Grande. The village of Boquillas is surrounded by the vast wilderness of the Maderas del Carmen Natural Protected Area, Mexico's sister park to Big Bend National Park. Once through the port, visitors walk down a shaded path to the edge of the Rio Grande to catch a ferry (for a fee) or walk across the river if the water is low enough.
Checking in at the official port of entry allows for National Park staff to brief visitors on the rules of this unique experience in international travel. A valid passport, passport card, or enhanced drivers license (for U.S. visitors), or a birth certificate for minors accompanied by a parent with a valid passport, is required for entry. International travelers are required to be registered with the ESTA visa waiver program.
Important note: The National Park states that travelers should also have their COVID-19 vaccination status available. For more information on other accepted travel documents, contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Presidio, TX at (432) 229-3349.
These are the hours for Fall 2021, beginning November 17. Check the National Park website for the latest details on hours, which are subject to change seasonally.
The residents of Boquillas are a living connection to a longstanding dream of an International Peace Park connecting Big Bend National Park to the Maderas del Carmen. You can learn more about this history at the informative exhibits at the port of entry.
Visiting Boquillas is like taking a trip back in time, with two great restaurants (Jose Falcon's and Boquillas Restaurant) and a bar (Park Bar) offering options to relax and take it all in. Friendly family service is found at each place you visit.
The village is so remote that it remained "off-grid" until finally receiving solar power in 2013. Its closest connection to services and amenities has always been in Big Bend National Park.
Modern conveniences are hardly present. Yet residents of Boquillas want to insure that visitors have a good and safe experience. Their warm and friendly welcome is enchanting. The contrast to American life is humbling. It's an experience that leaves a big impression.
The survival of this charming town is entwined in the relationship with tourists that blossomed with the creation of Big Bend National Park. It was then that U.S. visitors began to trek across the river for fresh tortillas, simple, delicious Mexican meals, and a friendly and fun cultural experience. People have been getting to know this village ever since and the town of Boquillas has grown to serve this unique clientele.
People have been living in Boquillas for a long time, going back to the early days of silver mining in the region, with indigenous populations present long before that. However tourism gave residents of the 20th century a chance at establishing a new economy, allowing them to continue living in this enchanting, though often harsh land, and helping to keep a friendly connection alive between Big Bend and the Del Carmens.
Outfitters are available (for a fee) to take the more adventurous traveler on explorations of nearby caves or historical landmarks. However, most visitors opt to stay in the small town center to enjoy a meal and purchase handmade souvenirs from the many locals lining the unpaved main road.
Park Bar is a true Mexican hole in the wall, with distilled spirits, cold beers, and pool tables.
Jose Falcon's is a traditional Mexican style restaurant with a large patio and gift shop (menus may have changed).
Boquillas Restaurant is a quaint eatery offering fresh, daily made specials.
U.S. dollars are accepted, and visitors who are wishing to shop and eat are encouraged to bring plenty of small bills.
After crossing the river and landing on the Mexican banks of the Rio Grande, visitors have the option to ride a burro or horse, or travel by truck to town (for a small fee). Visitors may also walk the 3/4-mile distance to the village. Upon entrance to the village, visitors are required to check in with the Mexican immigration station to pay a small entrance fee ($3 as of 2020).
1. Bring some drinking water. Although bottled water and other beverages are available in Boquillas, it's always a good idea to have water whenever walking/hiking/traveling anywhere in the Greater Big Bend region!
2. Wear sun protection like a hat and long sleeves or sunscreen. Sun exposure can be greater at the higher elevations in this region.
3. Bring small bills, like ones, fives, and tens, to purchase souvenirs from the many vendors in town and to provide tips for services.
4. Time your visit to get back to the U.S. port of entry in Big Bend National Park during the designated business hours; otherwise, you may have to spend the night at one of the few motel rooms available in Boquillas! Make sure your phone is set to the correct U.S. Central Standard time zone.
And finally, guide services are available for a fee. Just ask around! A friendly local will be happy to help you and show you around for tips. It's a great way to learn more about the area for those wishing to get off the beaten path. Most of the village is located a little further away from the main center of town, with two small churches and the hustle and bustle of daily life unfolding.
Happy traveling and Viva Boquillas!