One of the most unique aspects of Big Bend National Park is the close proximity to Mexico. You can even cross the official border from inside the Park!
The Rio Grande river runs through Big Bend and separates the US from Mexico, making it a quick journey if you wish to cross.
The Port of Entry reopened in 2013 and is available for crossing as follows:
Wednesday - Sunday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm (November 2 - April 30)
Friday - Monday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm (May 1 - November 1)
Crossing to Boquillas: Step by Step Guide
Park at the Boquillas Crossing parking lot
You must have your valid Passport to cross - it's a very quick process inside the US Port
To cross the river into Mexico, locals from Boquillas offer a $5 per person rowboat that will take you there and back, although you are permitted to walk across the water if levels are low
US currency is accepted in Boquillas (Cash Only)
Once crossing the river, you will be greeted by many locals offering you a ride into town on either donkeys, horses, or cars, all for a price
If you choose to walk into town, it's only around 3/4 of a mile
The locals will also advise that you let a guide show you around, but it is not necessary if you don't wish to have one (It's a really small town)
Once you enter Boquillas, you must check in with the Mexico Port of Entry, which is located inside of a trailer - PLEASE NOTE, on occasion, they charge $2 to enter since it is a Mexican Natural Protected Area (I had not read anything about this, so I was a bit confused)
Now you are free to roam! There are 2 places you can get lunch - either Jose Falcons or Boquillas Cafe
When you've had your fill, you can head back to the river and into the US
So, the million dollar question...
Is visiting Boquillas, Mexico during your stay at Big Bend actually worth it?
Short answer: Well, it depends! In my opinion, I'd vote no, it wasn't worth it.
Many people disagree with this and that's perfectly fine! If this is something you're set on, by all means, do it! It's definitely a unique experience that is offered inside a National Park. However, if you're on the fence about it and you have limited days in Big Bend, I'd keep this off the list.
My Thoughts when Visiting
Once crossing the river, Zach and I opted to explore without a guide (that's not really our thing). Upon arriving into town, it was not at all what I expected and it didn't feel like what I had read on other blogs. Although humbling, it was quite deserted with very little to see or do. Aside from lunch at Jose Falcons, there was nothing else notable to spend our time on, unless we wished to purchase souvenirs that were sold from the locals along the walk.
The day we went was almost empty, too, in terms of other tourists. I think it would have made a positive impact if it were a bit more crowded, but since we were pretty much the only tourist couple in Boquillas that afternoon, it felt a bit strange and some of the locals were a tad pushy (but extremely nice)! I think having a guide would have also added a lot more to the experience.
If you know this is an experience you wish for, I think you have your answer and you should spend an afternoon crossing to Boquillas. If you're unsure that it will be worth it in terms of time invested and what you wish to get out of it, read the below and try to make a decision based off of those suggestions.
You Should Go If...
You want to rent a guide to show you around their small town, offering insight into their history and meeting their families
You wish to have an authentic Mexican lunch
You have multiple days in Big Bend
You are going on a day with at least a few other tourists/couples
You understand that the town is scarce with little to do or see, but you just want the experience of crossing to Mexico
You Should Skip If...
You have limited days in Big Bend
You are traveling during low season with very few tourists
You don't enjoy guided tours or Mexican cuisine
You are hoping to be occupied with many interesting things available to see and do
I hope this was helpful for anyone unsure if this is something they wish to do!
One of the main reasons I would say it's not worth it is because there are so many other things Big Bend has to offer, and I would have rather invested my time in a new hike or area that I hadn't seen yet. Boquillas just simply did not have that much to offer in terms of my personal interests - think about your priorities on your trip and that will help you decide!
If you want to learn more about visiting Boquillas, check out what the NPS has to say here!