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Policies on Dogs at Big Bend Ranch State Park

The following rules apply to all Texas Parks & Wildlife Department sites.

  • Dogs must always be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
  • Dogs are not allowed in any buildings (that includes the Sauceda Ranch House and Bunkhouse).
  • You must pick up your dog's feces with a bag immediately and place in a trash can.
  • Never leave your dog unattended.
  • Do not allow your dog to approach wildlife.
  • More information is available in the Texas State Parks Rules and Regulations.

The following rules apply to Big Bend Ranch State Park.

  • Dogs are only allowed to be ¼ mile from campsites or designated roads, and only on the Closed Canyon Trail and the Hoodoos Trail on FM 170.
  • Dogs are not allowed on any other hiking trails, in the backcountry, or more than ¼ mile from campsites or designated roads.

Note: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, these policies do not apply to persons relying on service dogs.

Why the Rules?

Dogs and wildlife

Dogs have an effect on the wildlife of our park.

  • The presence of dogs at Big Bend Ranch State Park puts stress on wildlife, whether from direct (physical contact) or indirect (contact with feces, etc.) interaction.
  • The presence of dogs can make wildlife feel threatened, increasing the chances of a wild animal attacking a dog or human.
  • Dogs can pass and receive diseases and parasites to and from wildlife through direct and indirect interactions. Diseases and parasites include fleas, ticks, worms, parvovirus, and many more.

Dogs and humans

Dogs have an effect on other visitors.

  • While you may love your dog, not everybody does. The park is for the enjoyment of all visitors. The presence of dogs can inhibit some people's enjoyment.
  • Dogs scare birds, interfering with bird-watching (many birders come to this park).
  • Dog feces in the park can result in an unpleasant smell around campsites, along the roadside, and from the bottom of shoes.

Dogs and Big Bend Ranch State Park

One last thing to consider:

Many state parks in Texas do allow dogs in the backcountry and on hiking trails. However, Big Bend Ranch State Park has stricter dog policies than other parks.

First, Big Bend Ranch State Park is a vast and wild area unlike any other state park. We strive to maintain the beauty, solitude, and natural feeling of the wilderness. Our dog policy helps us to continue to offer a park experience unlike any other.

The second reason for our policies is your dog’s comfort and safety. Big Bend Ranch State Park is a remote park located in a desert climate. With summer temperatures averaging over 100° F, dry air, and rough, rocky terrain, park conditions can be very difficult on dogs. Many dogs live in air-conditioned houses or a different climate than that of the Chihuahuan Desert. Thus, the heat can be hard on them. Many dogs are used to walking on sidewalks, manicured lawns, and in maintained city parks. Walking on our trails can be painful and wearing on a dog’s foot pads.

You love your dog, but the best way to love your dog is to leave him at home when you come to Big Bend Ranch State Park.