Boquillas Port of Entry to resume winter hours

Courtesy of Big Bend National Park

FAR WEST TEXAS — Starting on Saturday, November 2, the Boquillas Port of Entry in Big Bend National Park will change to winter hours. The port will open Wednesday through Sunday, said Tom VandenBerg, a spokesman for the park. The hours will now be 8 a.m. until 5 p.m..

“It’s a real popular thing, especially in the winter months,” he said of the unusual port of entry. “It’s a great way to get a sense of the border culture here and what makes this part of the country special.”

The Boquillas Port of Entry is special for a couple reasons. It’s located within Big Bend National Park and has no customs agents. (At least not ones that are physically present: More on that later.)

If the Rio Grande is low enough, travelers to Mexico are welcome to cross by foot. Otherwise, they can take a ferry, which costs $5 roundtrip, according to VandenBerg.

On the Mexican side, travelers walk or hire a burro to go the half mile to reach the Mexican village of Boquillas, also known as Boquillas del Carmen, which had an estimated population of 110 in 2010. The crossing is also adjacent to Maderas del Carmen, a mountainous nature reserve in Mexico.

In an interview with The Big Bend Sentinel, VandenBerg explained how customs work at the crossing. A park ranger staffs the port of entry. And “when you come back from Mexico, you interact with a CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] officer through a virtual kiosk,” he said.

The officers speak to you by phone and watch you by camera. VandenBerg stressed that the usual rules apply for traveling internationally.

“You do need a passport to get back,” he said.