Window View Trail In The Chisos Basin At Big Bend National Park

Brian and Jennifer Bourn on the Window View Trail in the Chisos Basin at Big Bend National Park

After stopping by the Chisos Basin Visitor Center and the Basin Convenience Store in Big Bend National Park, we decided to do at least one short hike before heading back down into the desert and driving out to Rio Grande Village and the Window View Trail was the perfect choice.

The easy 0.3 mile Window View Trail starts at the Chisos Basin Trailhead just 100 yards west of the Visitor Center and provides a gorgeous panoramic view that looks through a natural window.

The Window View Trail is an easy, semi-flat, paved trail that circles a low hill. Benches along the trail offer you an opportunity to take a break from your walk and enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountain peaks surrounding the Chisos Basin. We really enjoyed this short hike and the amazing views. It’s a great taste of the Chisos Basin if you don’t have time for an all day hike.

The overlook of the deep V-Shaped Window is also one of the best places to watch the sunset in Big Bend National Park because the rock cliffs form a silhouette in the foreground with the colorful twilight sky in the background.

The Window Trail

Be careful not to confuse the Window View Trail with the Window Trail. The Window Trail is a moderate, 5.6 mile round trip hike (that’s uphill on the return) that also begins at the Chisos Basin Trailhead. It descends through Oak Creek Canyon to the Window pour-off that looks out on sweeping desert vistas.

About The Chisos Basin

The Chisos Basin is a mountain island surrounded by a hot desert sea that has more than 40 square miles of forested slopes, rugged canyons, and rocky spires.

Volcanic eruptions between 17 million and 38 million years ago formed the Chisos Mountains. Geologists believe that some mountain peaks, including Emory Peak and Casa Grande, may have been volcanic vents that spewed gases, rocks, ash, and lava in violent eruptions. In other areas, thick lava oozed up slowly through huge fissures and hardened into enormous rounded mounds known as lava domes.

Following the volcanic activity, millions of years of erosion wore down these mountains and partially filled the Basin with sediments. Now the sediments are being eroded and carried out of the Basin through the Window.

Know Before You Go

The Window View Trail is in the Chisos Basin of Big Bend National Park:

  • In the Chisos Basin, you’ll find the Chisos Basin Visitor Center, a campground, the Mountain View Restaurant in the Chisos Mountains Lodge, a camp store, clean flush restrooms, and access to miles of hiking trails.
  • The Chisos Mountains Lodge is operated by Forever Resorts, Inc. and is open year-round. It offers a variety of rooms and cottages, and the Mountain View Restaurant provides the only full-service dining inside the national park. It is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Hikers Lunches are also available for picnicking elsewhere in the park.

About Big Bend National Park:

  • Big Bend National Park is located in Brewster County, Texas. The name Big Bend refers to the great U-turn the Rio Grande makes in Southwest Texas.
  • Park entrances are open 24 hours daily, all year. Entrance fee stations have variable seasons and hours.
  • Admission fees are valid for seven days and are $30/vehicle, $25/motorcycle, $15/individual/bicyclist/pedestrian.
  • There are five Visitor Centers in Big Bend National Park: Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, Castolon, Persimmon Gap, and Rio Grande Village.
  • Download the Big Bend National Park maps.
  • There are three developed campgrounds in the park: the Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood campgrounds. Sites are first come, first-served, although a limited number of campsites in Rio Grande Village and the Chisos Basin campgrounds are reservable.
  • Convenience stores are available and open year-round at Rio Grande Village, the Chisos Basin, and in the historic La Harmonia store at Castolon.
  • Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go and must be on a leash no longer than six feet in length or in a cage at all times. Pet etiquette and park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.

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