National Parks: Rarely visited parks worth going out of your way forThese are among America’s least visited national parks, excluding remote places like Alaska, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Dry Tortugas.Staff video, USA TODAYThey say everything is bigger in Texas, and Big Bend National Park sure lives up to it. Spanning 801,163 acres, it’s the 15th largest national park in America and known as “Texas’ gift to the nation.”Staring into its towering canyons or up at the dazzling dark sky, it’s easy to feel very, very small. And with just 514,107 visitors last year compared to the millions at parks like Acadia and Zion, visitors can feel like they have Big Bend all to themselves.But they won’t really be alone. Big Bend is home to a wide array of wildlife, including many species one might expect in a park with such large swaths of Chihuahuan Desert.Here’s what nature lovers who hate crowds should know about Big Bend National Park, the latest in USA TODAY’s yearlong national park series.Reservations required: See which national parks require timed entry this summerWhat part of Texas has Big Bend?Big Bend National Park is located in West Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border. The remote park is not near any major cities but in Brewster County, which has a population of under 9,400, according to the U.S. Census. The nearest U.S. airports are several hours away by car. Midland International Air and Space Port is just under 200 miles from Big Bend, according to Google Maps. El Paso International Airport is nearly 300 miles from the park.The nearest U.S. airports are several hours away by car. Midland International Air and Space Port is just under 200 miles from Big Bend, according to Google Maps. El Paso International Airport is nearly 300 miles from the park.Is Big Bend in Texas or Mexico?Big Bend is entirely located within Texas, but it does share 118 miles of border with Mexico.Visitors can cross into Mexico through the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry within the park, which is jointly operated by the National Park Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Proper documentation, like a valid U.S. passport, is required.’A big crazy adventure’: Teen who biked from Alaska to Argentina is backpacking his way homeWhen did Big Bend become a national park?Big Bend officially became a national park on June 12, 1944, less than a week after the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day during WWII.”What made Big Bend so important that a President (Franklin D. Roosevelt) would shift his focus from a world in turmoil to the wilderness of southwest Texas?” the National Park Service asks on Big Bend’s website. “It was a noble purpose. To set something aside for future generations with the fate of the present generation still uncertain was an act of optimism in an uncertain world.”Good to be bad What to know about Badlands National ParkWhy is Big Bend named Big Bend?Big Bend gets its name from the way the Rio Grande curves dramatically within its borders.What is unusual about Big Bend?Big Bend has been called both a “geologist’s paradise” and a “geologist’s nightmare,” according to the park, which boasts one of the most diverse fossil records within the National Park Service.Fossils of ancient seashells, dinosaurs and early mammals have all been preserved in the rocks.”The park preserves a largely intact 130 million-year slice of geologic time, including the dinosaur extinction event,” the park notes. However, “rocks often appear to be completely displaced and do not ‘fit’ within the areas in which they are found,” making it hard to nail down the exact series of events over time.Why is Arches National Park so famous? What to know about the popular Utah destinationWhat is Big Bend known for?Big Bend is the only U.S. national park with an entire mountain range inside its borders, the Chisos Mountains. The mountains are considered sky islands, providing a completely different habitat for flora and fauna than the surrounding desert below.The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert on the continent, and Big Bend National Park protects the largest portion of that desert within the U.S.The park is also home to “more types of birds, bats, butterflies, ants, and scorpions than any other national park in the United States,” including “11 species of amphibians, 56 species of reptiles, 40 species of fish, 75 species of mammals, more than 450 species of birds, and about 3,600 species of insects” according to its website.Are there bears at Big Bend National Park?Yes, black bears can be seen in the Chisos Mountains. “It is one of the park’s greatest success stories,” said Tom VandenBerg, chief of Interpretation & Visitor Services at Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.The bears were once common in the area, but by the time the park was officially established, they had been virtually wiped out by shooting and trapping, according to the National Park Service.”Black bears naturally recolonized the park in the late 1980s,” VandenBerg added. “They came from the nearby mountains in Mexico.”Fat Bear Week: This annual tradition isn’t just fun and games at Katmai National Park and PreserveWhat Native American tribe lived in Big Bend?There are 16 Native tribes historically affiliated with Big Bend National Park.Discover these hidden National Parks rich with Native American historyIf American Indian history intrigues you, check out this trio of hidden gems within the National Park System.Scott L. Hall, USA TODAYIs Big Bend free to enter?Most visitors should expect to pay to enter Big Bend National Park, which charges $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle or $15 per person arriving by bike or on foot.A number of visitors qualify for free entry year-round, including military service members, veterans, Gold Star Families, visitors with permanent disabilities, and fourth graders and their families.For everyone else, there are three remaining free-entry days for all national parks this year:One veteran’s legacy Free lifetime access to national parks for fellow vets and Gold Star FamiliesWhat do I need to know before going to Big Bend?”We are in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert. Plan accordingly,” VandenBerg shared via email. “Understand that even winter days can be very hot in parts of the park, and heat illness is always a concern. Carry plenty of water, don’t do more than you can, and hike early in the day. Plan to be off desert trails by afternoon.”Visitors should plan to bring in everything they need and leave no trace behind. Supplies are limited in the remote area and most places will not have cell phone service.No cell service? New Google Maps features can still keep you on track at national parksWhat is the best month to visit Big Bend?”Big Bend is primarily a winter park,” VandenBerg said. “Winter temperatures are wonderful here. Summer temperatures are more than most people can tolerate. The main visitor season runs from mid-October through mid-April. Early November, when things begin to cool down before Thanksgiving, is a great time. Also, early December. Early April is good for birdwatching.”What is the difference between Big Bend state park and Big Bend National Park?Big Bend Ranch State Park, is located just west of Big Bend National Park. It’s actually the largest state park in Texas, spanning more than 300,000 acres of Brewster and Presidio counties.Popular activities there include camping, fishing, stargazing, and hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding across its 238 miles of mixed-use trails.