Chisos Mountains Lodge in Big Bend National Park

“Casa Grande” rock formation towering over Chisos Mountains Lodge, viewed from the Chisos Basin Loop Trail with Cottage 103 center

For my first ever and long-awaited visit to Big Bend National Park, I wanted to stay in one of the five “Roosevelt Stone Cottages” belonging to Chisos Mountains Lodge, the only (non-camping) lodging within the park. While the Lodge has hotel- and motel-style rooms, the Roosevelt Stone Cottages are the most popular and book up “almost a year in advance” per the Lodge web site. I found this to be the case. Although some of the cottages were booked when I did a search last January, I was able to get one of my top picks, #101 by booking last January 19, one year and a few days before our arrival. Still, even with that lengthy pre-booking, we weren’t guaranteed the cottage of our choice since the Lodge reserves the right to change (should there be a maintenance problem, etc.). Upon check-in, I was happy to find we would in fact have the cottage I’d booked.

The cottages come equipped with three double beds, a private bathroom with a shower only, a small desk and a modest dining table, way more than David and I needed for the two of us, but what the heck. We planned to do this stay right and that meant a cottage. The cottage turned out to be spacious and charming, if not fancy, with stone floors, beamed ceiling, and an effective electric heater where a fireplace used to be. Two double beds occupied the main room and the third sits off in a separate, open side area. The cottage is equipped with a small refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave. There’s also a closet that was so cold it made a great wine cellar. Old photos of the park added a charming touch.

Cottage 101

We were a little concerned when we first drove up to our cottage (clustered around a circular parking area with 2 of the other 3 individual cottages and 2 duplex-style cottages). Not only did our cottage not have a “private driveway” as I was told by the man who checked me in (probably in mistaken reference to cottage 100 which sits apart from the other cottages, closer to the motel area and actually isn’t offered for rent on the lodge web site), but there was only one parking space left. The space was thankfully right by our cottage, but on the opposite side from the stone sidewalk by which we would have normally approached. Oh well, we carried our luggage and ice chests the short distance and set them on our porch. No problem. Happily, it turned out that all the cars belonged to hikers who’d decided to enter the (7) trails from the spot near cottage 103 and they all cleared out shortly before dark. It was Sunday of a long weekend and we never saw that many cars again.

Speaking of cottage 103, that one is definitely the rock star/most-sought-after cottage at Chisos Mountains Lodge and it’s easy to see why. The cottage is identical inside to 101 (ours) and 102 but it faces the iconic “Window” and has a wide, covered porch (as does 102, which has a view of the Window from a yard area to the side of the cottage). See lead photo to this post. The only slight downside to 103 I could see was that a trailhead giving access to seven trails is just beside it and people like to start hikes there and to perch on a large boulder just by the porch of 103 to enjoy the view and take photos.

Our cottage 101 sits a bit apart from 102 and 103 and faces the far side of the canyon with a couple of the motel buildings in site. It has a smaller uncovered porch which actually turned out to be a bonus for us as we could set up our telescope on the porch and watch the full lunar eclipse over the “Casa Grande” rock formation that dominates Chisos Mountains Lodge.

Uncovered porch on Cottage 101
View from the “front yard” of Cottage 101 with motel portions of
Chisos Mountains Lodge visible in the distance

Chisos Mountains Lodge has one restaurant just beyond the gift shop and registration area. The restaurant offers great views of the Window and opens onto a large terrace. Food turned out to be surprisingly good and not unreasonably priced considering the location. There’s an attached bar with television that played non-stop football while we were there. There’s also a convenience store not far away among the motel buildings.

View of “the Window” from our dining table at Chisos Mountains Lodge restaurant

Our cottage turned out to be just what we wanted: comfortable beds, lots of hot water (although the shower head is mounted laughably low), very quiet at night. The location, nestled into the Chisos Mountains Basin, is spectacular. There’s no wi-fi in the cottages or other rooms, although Comcast wireless worked for me as a domestic roaming option on my T-Mobile-serviced Samsung Galaxy S9+ Android phone. Service wasn’t very fast and couldn’t load some things, but it was good enough for email, texts, map searches, etc. David’s S7 (also on T-Mobile) could not connect. That may have be a function of the phone or settings (although roaming was on), but we didn’t care enough to worry about it. We weren’t in Big Bend National Park to stare at our phones. There is wi-fi in the lobby/gift shop/restaurant area, but it was iffy. Again, Internet access wasn’t a big deal for us and we had a great stay.

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