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Sunrise Hike to Langford Hot Spring in Big Bend National Park

Sunrise at Abandoned Hot Spring
Sunrise at Langford Hot Spring

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

– EASY –

  • Hours: Always Open
  • Trail Length: 1/2 Mile Round Trip
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Pets: Not Allowed On Trails
  • Restroom Available
  • No Glass or Alcoholic Beverages
  • No Camping in Hot Springs Area
  • Large Parking Lot
  • Located in Big Bend National Park
  • Located in a Border Area

Big Bend National Park
RISING SUN OVER THE RIO GRANDE

THINGS YOU MIGHT NEED

  • National Park Pass
  • Water
  • Trail Map
  • Athletic Shoes/Hiking Boots
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
Langford Hot Springs Map
Langford Hot Springs Map

Big Bend National Park
Sunrise on the Rio Grande

ABOUT THE AREA

Langford Hot Spring is located along the Rio Grande within Big Bend National Park. The closest towns are Marathon and Terlingua, both of which are over an hour drive away. Within the park there are several gas stations, convenience stores, and campgrounds if you need supplies or a place to stay. One of the most impressive aspects of the park is that it encompasses over 800,000 acres. Outdoor enthusiasts visiting Big Bend National Park have many other recreation options as well, including rafting on the Rio Grande, hiking, biking, fishing, and stargazing in some of the darkest skies in the USA. Other highlights of the park are Santa Elena Canyon, Boquillas Canyon, and the Chisos Mountains. One item of note, is that during the Months of May- October, several of the visitor centers are closed due to the summer heat and low visitor numbers during that time.


Hot Springs Historic District Big Bend National Park
Hot Springs Historic District Big Bend National Park

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD

The trailhead for the hot spring is located at the end of a 1.5 mile gravel road through a rough, narrow wash. A parking lot at the top of the wash is available for large motorhomes and vehicles pulling trailers, and the road ahead has many sharp corners. As long as the road is dry, almost all vehicles will be able to reach the lower parking area. Low clearance cars should be cautious though as there are loose rocks and rough spots that could cause damage underneath the vehicle. At the end of the road,

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Hot Springs Trail in Big Bend National Park
Hot Springs Trail

HIKING TO THE HOT SPRINGS

Langford Hot Springs are located on the Rio Grand River in the remains of the foundation of an abandoned bathhouse. The hike to the hot spring is roughly 1/4 mile from the parking lot slightly downhill. Multiple signs are along the trail to point you in the right direction.


Hot Springs Historic District Big Bend National Park
Abandoned Post Office

HOT SPRINGS HISTORIC DISTRICT

At the beginning of the trail you will cross a bridge which takes you over the remainder of the wash from the canyon on the drive down. Just past that, you will find several building from the abandoned Hot Springs Historic Site, with the first one being the Post Office.


Big Bend National Park
Swallow Nests on the Canyon Walls

A short walk further will present another long building with several doors, most likely used for lodging in it’s prime. As you are passing this building, you will find the canyon walls rising behind it. A closer look at the canyon wall, and you can find pictographs left behind from previous inhabitants, and a large amount of bird nests high up on the wall.


Hot Springs Trail in Big Bend National Park
Crafts and Trinkets from Boquillas del Carmen

MEXICAN CONTRABAND

Continuing with the remainder of your hike will take you down a narrow sandy trail, along the trail you may find crafts and trinkets on display. Keep in mind Mexico is less then a hundred feet away, and these items are left by the residents of Boquillas del Carmen, a nearby town in Mexico. It is considered illegal to purchase these items as the vendors are illegally crossing the border to place the items and collect payment.


Hot Springs Trail in Big Bend National Park
Hot Springs Trail

HOT SPRINGS TRAIL

Nearing the end of your hike, you will find yourself crossing a small rock bridge just before reaching your destination as the foliage opens up to a path to the river. A small climb down the bank will bring you to the hot spring. It is located in the remains of the foundation of an abandoned bathhouse. The foundation is made of rock from the nearby canyon, and you will find the 105°F water enters the spring in the corner furthest from shore through a small square hole in the floor. After circling through the stone foundation, it flows over the wall and cascades into the Rio Grande.


Sunrise at Langford Hot Springs
Dreamy Sunrise at the Hot Springs

PEACEFUL SUNRISE SOAK

The hot springs are well known, and receive a large amount of traffic. If you’re looking for privacy, you should not expect much during peak season, but you may find some if  you are selective on the time’s you visit. The views from the hot spring are beautiful in all directions, with canyons visible downriver, and rolling hills upstream. During your time at Big Bend, we do recommend visiting them on a clear night, as the experience under the night sky is unforgettable.

As you are departing the hot springs, be sure to clean up after yourself and leave no trace you were there.  Your hike back to the parking lot can continue back the same trail in which you came, or you can hike a bit further down river and take the first trail on your left for a scenic mile long hike along the top of the canyon back to the lot.


PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR USED

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