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Children play at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit Photo: Sean Fitzgerald

Plan to spend at least a few days in the park. You could visit for one day, but why do that when you’ve probably already driven at least a day to get there?

Visit in the winter. The park is busiest in fall and spring, but the dead of winter offers pleasant temperatures and sunny skies. In the summer, it’s best to get out of the heat by noon.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Dedicate time to exploring a section of the park—such as the Chisos Mountains or the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive—rather than rushing to cover vast expanses.

Plan for drive time. Speed limits in the park max out at 45 mph. It takes longer to drive from place to place than mileage counts or map apps suggest.

Be prepared. Carry plenty of water, food, and sunscreen. Pack an extra gallon of water in the car in case of an unexpected delay, such as a flat tire.

Unplug. Cell phone service is spotty, and Wi-Fi (finicky) is only available at the park visitor centers and stores.

Take advantage of the visitor centers. The rangers have maps and advice on hiking routes and travel itineraries.

Be ready for crowds during spring break and Thanksgiving. The Chisos Basin sometimes reaches capacity and closes to incoming cars on the busiest days. If visiting during the high season, book your room or campsite months in advance.

Bring a hat. You’ll be glad to have one under the desert sun.

Bring your passport. You’ll need it if you want to make a day trip to the Mexican village of Boquillas.

From the February 2019 issue

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