Some people may want to start out at full speed—the mountains can be so inspiring, it’s tempting to turn your enthusiasm into energy by hiking  or rafting . Others may want to take things slow and get their bearings. For unbelievably dramatic mountain scenery, it’s imperative to make the drive to Chisos Mountains Lodge.
Your ears will pop and your jaw will drop as you ascend the road into the mountain range, with the famous formations of Casa Grande and Emory Peak acting as a beacon to the basin. Be sure to keep an eye on the road as you navigate the tight turns amid the stunning surroundings.
An ideal introduction to the complex range of natural wonders at Big Bend  is a jaunt along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive in the western portion of the park. The vast vistas slowly transform to striking views of volcanic rock formations reminiscent of an otherworldly scene straight out of a Star Trek episode. Be sure to drop by the historic village of Castolon for some water, a snack, and history lessons before getting back on the road for the short drive to the must-see Santa Elena Canyon .
If you’re driving a high-clearance vehicle, tackle the nearby Old Maverick Road for the rare chance to experience the invigorating sensation of plowing through rugged terrain just like they do in SUV ads.
Not quite as dramatic yet certainly worth experiencing is the 20-mile drive to Rio Grande Village. The terrain slowly descends as you approach the river, and the charms of the Chihuahuan Desert are in full effect in the blooming cacti, gentle mesas, and occasional javelina. For a little more excitement, take on the narrow mini-overhangs along the short road to the hot springs.