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Starry Nights in Big Bend Regional Event (June 6-9, 2024)

May 1 - May 4

Leader | Travel & lodging | What to expect | Preliminary itinerary

Registration is now open

Event Overview

Join Jeff Parker to experience and photograph the dramatic setting of Texas’ Big Bend National Park during monsoon season. The Natural Sounds and Night Skies division of the National Park Service has determined that Big Bend National Park has the darkest night skies of any national park in the lower 48 states, so it’s an ideal location for night photography. This event is timed to provides us with some exceptionally dark skies for night photography. It also falls during the peak monsoon season in Big Bend – giving us the possibility of dramatic skies in the afternoons. From our base in the town of Terlingua in western Texas, we’ll explore some of the iconic locations within Big Bend National Park.

NANPA is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service.

Early Registration: $925 NANPA & ASMP Members/$1125 Non-members by May 5, 2024
After May 5, 2024: $1025 NANPA & ASMP Members/$1225 Non-members
Last Date to Register:  June 5, 2024
Maximum number of attendees: 8

©Jeff Parker



Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker has been a longtime Texas resident until recently relocating to New Mexico, and has led many photo workshops to Big Bend National Park. Jeff is owner of Explore in Focus, and his work has appeared in many magazines and books. Together with his wife, writer Mary O. Parker, he published the award-winning nature travel guide, Explore Texas.


Travel and lodging

NANPA is holding a block of Deluxe rooms for event participants for single/double rate of $158 per night ($178.54/night including tax) at:

Big Bend Resort Motor Inn
53623 TX-118
Terlingua, TX 79852

Note, only the Deluxe rooms include a mini fridge and microwave which can be useful to prepare a meal at off hours. Rooms with either 1 queen or 1 king bed are available. One night room + tax is due at the time of booking, with a 72-hour notice to cancel without penalty.

Check-In: 4:00 pm
Check-Out: 11:00am
Smoking Policy: No smoking
WiFi: Hot spot limited connect ability

To book a room, call our contact Marlin Hayward at (480) 666-9489 (Mon-Fri) and request a room in the “NANPA 24” room block (group reference number 60039T).

The last date to book a room in the NANPA room block is May 6, 2024.

The rooms at the Big Bend Motor Inn are pretty basic, so if you want more comfortable accommodations you will need to make your own lodging arrangements. You will want to find accommodation that offers at least a fridge and microwave for meal prep since you may be eating meals at off hours.

One convenient location would be to reserve a casita at Far Flung Outdoor Center (FFOC) which is less than a 5 minute drive from the Big Bend Motor Inn. Far Flung Outdoor Center offers casitas. Each casita has 2 queen beds, a private bathroom and a kitchenette with microwave, coffee pot, toaster, refrigerator, sink, dishes, glasses, and silverware.

Far Flung Outdoor Center
23310 FM 170
Terlingua, Texas 79852

Other lodging options include:


El Paso International Airport (Mountain Standard Time)
Southwest and American have the best connections into El Paso.

Transportation to and from lodging and during the event is not included and is the attendees’ responsibility.

Car Rental: Rental car agencies are plentiful at the El Paso airport. You do NOT need a 4×4 rental car for this workshop. High clearance wouldn’t hurt but is NOT necessary to enjoy this workshop. Drive time from the El Paso airport is approximately 4 hours 45 minutes. 

Event Transportation

Be aware that Big Bend National Park covers a large geographic area and there is a significant amount of driving required to get to photo shoot locations each day. You will want to make sure to stay filled up with gas as there are very limited fuel options in the event area (3 total gas stations and only two have pay at the pump). 

RIDE SHARING:  We will be starting each day from the Big Bend Motor Inn in Terlingua, TX. Ridesharing is encouraged to reduce the size of our vehicle presence and improve the traveling/following experience. You are welcome to either drive or ride with someone. This is also a great way to meet people and make new friends during the event!

Note that NANPA does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel.


All meals are on your own with the exception of a group breakfast on Sunday June 9 which will be included.

We will be out all night, so you should be prepared with a cooler. Lodging with a fridge and microwave like provided at the Big Bend Motor Inn or kitchenette, like provided at the Far Flung Outdoor Center Casitas, is also helpful to store and prepare food.

©Jeff Parker


What to expect

Photography Locations:

Some of the iconic locations within the park that we will most likely photograph include:

  • Santa Elena Canyon
  • the Chisos Mountains
  • the Dorgan house
  • Mule Ears Peak
  • the Rio Grande
  • the Window in the Chisos Basin (this location might not be accessible due to a construction project in the area)
  • and much more

Jeff will have visited the areas prior to the event and the field trip locations will be based on what’s most photogenic at the time, weather conditions, etc.  These will be announced on Thursday afternoon during the Registration/Orientation.


Most photographic locations are within a relatively easy walk of the vehicles, but we may take a slightly longer hike (no more than 2 miles roundtrip) if conditions warrant. Backpacks with a hydration reservoir or water bottles are key to staying hydrated in the dry climate.


Temperatures can vary dramatically during the summer due to the monsoons with temperatures at the Rio Grande being warmer (90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) and about 20 degrees cooler in the mountains. However, you can occasionally have days in the mid-60’s in summer.  Participants should bring rain gear, good sturdy hiking boots to handle the rocky terrain, and long sleeves and pants to protect against thorns. Closed-toed shoes are required.


    • DSLR or Mirrorless Camera Body (Backup camera bodies are always good to have)
    • Wide Angle (14mm to 35mm), Normal (35mm to 50mm), and Telephoto (70 to 200mm) Lenses (f/2.8 or faster for night sky). A 24-70 f/2.8 zoom will do everything you need
    • Batteries (Plenty) and Battery Charger(s)
    • Memory Cards (You can never have too many)
    • Tripod
    • Programmable Intervalometer (Phottix Aion or Vello Shutterboss 4.0)
    • Camera backpack with camelpak type water container or water bottle holders


    • Sturdy Hiking Boots.
    • Wide-brimmed Hat
    • Long Sleeve Shirts & Long Pants
    • Sunscreen
    • Rain Gear
    • Headlamp/Flashlight (we will be out at night in the darkest spot in the US.)


Prepare to tap into your inner vampire.  This Big Bend at Night event takes place mostly from dusk to dawn.  We’ll photograph the Milky Way in a location with the darkest skies in the continental United States.  We’ll also do star trails, light painting and sunset landscape photography.

We are in a very remote location so if you forget your batteries, chargers, memory cards or other gear, there is NO location nearby to purchase such gear.

Be prepared for limited cell phone service (3G in most places with occasional LTE).

Please keep in mind that this NANPA Regional Event is designed to be a photo tour, not a photo workshop. In other words, there are no formal instruction sessions planned, there are no assignments, you will not be receiving any handouts or the like. That being said, your leader Jeff Parker has experience as a photography workshop leader and is available to answer questions and give you guidance. If you need help, please advocate for yourself and speak up and ask for help – Jeff is happy to help. Be aware that many of your fellow participants may also be accomplished photographers in their own right and may be able to help you too.  Part of the regional event experience is the camaraderie that comes from sharing experiences and lessons learned among participants.

This tour is open for 8 participants to give each plenty of time with the leader and to retain flexibility based on weather and the best opportunities.

This event is designed for all levels of photographers – amateur, intermediate, advanced and professional – interested in improving their photography skills or looking for location guidance to capture images of wildlife and landscapes.  If you are new to photography, be sure to ask Jeff for help. He will be available to answer questions, explain techniques and in general help you improve your photographic skills.  If you already have plenty of photography experience, Jeff will ensure that you’re in the best locations at the best times for those perfect shots.

Please know your camera before you arrive and bring your manual, just in case we need to look up something.

Attendance and participation at NANPA Regional Events is limited to registered attendees only.  Anyone wishing to participate in any portion of, or travel with a registered attendee during the group event must contact the NANPA office and pay the full registration fee.


©Jeff Parker


Preliminary itinerary

Please note schedules are fluid due to weather conditions and other variables.

Day 1 – June 6th (Thursday)
Official Sunset at 8:52 p.m./New Moon

  • Participants should plan to arrive in Terlingua, Texas by 4:30 p.m.
  • 5:00 p.m. – Meet at the Big Bend Motor Inn meeting room for class on “Making the Most of the Landscape & Night Sky Photographic Experience”
  • 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dinner on your own
  • 8:00 meet at Terlingua ghost town cemetery
  • 8:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. – Night Sky Shooting
  • Return to Terlingua

Day 2 – June 7th (Friday)
Official Sunset at 8:52 p.m./Waxing Crescent Moon Sets at 10:33 p.m.

  • 6:00 p.m. – Group Dinner (Optional) 7:30 p.m. – Meet at Big Bend Motor Inn
  • 7:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Depart for our night of photography
  • Return to Terlingua

Day 3 – June 8th (Saturday)
Official Sunset at 8:53 p.m./Waxing Crescent Moon Sets at 11:25 p.m.

  • 6:00 p.m. – Group Dinner (Optional) 7:30 p.m. – Meet at Big Bend Motor Inn
  • 7:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Depart for our night of photography
  • Return to Terlingua

Day 4 – June 9th (Sunday)

  • 9:00 a.m. – Breakfast with the Group (included in the fee). The event wraps up after breakfast.

Regional Event Cancellation and No Refund Policy:  

NANPA will not offer any refunds for registrations for this event regardless of when the cancellation is made or the reason for the cancellation. NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. NANPA will offer refunds if NANPA has to cancel the event. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend. Registrants may purchase event insurance as part of the registration process through NANPA’s partner, Allianz. More information on this option will be shown during the checkout process for the event registration.

NOTE:  If you do not purchase event insurance at the time that you pay for your registration, you will NOT be able to go back and purchase it with Allianz later.

If you choose to purchase travel insurance separately, you can do so with your own insurance carrier, or NANPA members can receive a special travel insurance rate through USI Affinity/Travel Insurance Services.



May 1
May 4
Event Category:


USA States/Territories
Type of event
On Location
Cost range


Big Bend National Park
TX United States