Hike the Window Trail in Big Bend

Texas Chios Basin Campground

Added by Chris Mongeau

  • Distance: 4.4 - 5.6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 500 ft
  • Beautiful views into Mexico from Big Bend National Park
  • Panoramic desert vista outlook from the end of the trail
  • Excellent views of the mountains surrounding the Chisos Basin
  • Awesome sunset photo opportunities
  • Diverse wildlife

The Window Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Big Bend National Park. Whether you're visiting for a day or camping at one of the sites in the park, the Window Trail is a hike worth doing, and can be done in just a couple of hours at a leisurely pace. The Window itself is a V-shaped canyon that overlooks the desert into Mexico and offers stunning panoramic views, especially at sunset.

To begin the hike, you can either start at the Basin Trailhead (roundtrip 5.6 miles) or at the Chisos Basin Campground (roundtrip 4.4 miles). If you don't feel like hiking the first mile from the Basin Trailhead, you won't be missing much in terms of the hike's views and experience.

The hike begins in Chisos Basin and descends to Oak Creek Canyon, which, depending on the season and amount of rainfall, may have a stream running through. During our hike in August, there was a small stream, but nothing more than about an inch of water at any point. The total descent from the Chisos Basin Campground is about 500 feet over 2.2 miles (the way back is all uphill). The last .5 miles of the trail travels over a rocky canyon area that can be pretty slick to climb, so you'll definitely want decent hiking shoes with good grip.

Once you're at the Window, the view opens up to the desert plain below. There are no rails/ropes at the end of the Window—it's just a straight 220 foot drop from the edge, so be careful and don't get too close, the rocks can be deceivingly slick. Enjoy the uninhibited view and wait for the sun to set if you can.

Hiking back, the views are equally beautiful and look out at Casa Grande and Emory Peak. While we were on the trail, we spotted a black bear, two different groups of deer, and javelinas. Wildlife is abundant throughout the basin area, and Big Bend is also home to the mountain lion, so it's best to do this hike with at least another person and to follow safety information in the event of an encounter.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Big Bend Nat'l Park Admission or America the Beautiful Pass
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Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn



Family Friendly

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How to Get There

7 months ago


There are two Window trails. The short one which I recommend to watch the sunset and the longer one which takes you to the actual window. Both are great and beautiful.

7 months ago

8 months ago

Awesome View of the Desert

This was the very first hike I did at Big Bend when I was 14. I wish you would have added a pic of the actual window. As stated there are no ropes or anything so just be careful when you get down there. Looking over the edge is thrilling but don't get too close.

8 months ago

8 months ago

Great Trail Run!

This hike is perfect for the family or day hiker passing through Big Bend! If you are looking for a little exercise after hours in the car, this is the perfect trail run with a rewarding view, The way back is slightly uphill the entire way, so save some energy for the way back!

8 months ago

12 months ago

Great hike!

I absolutely love this hike! I grew up doing the Window hike with my dad when I was young, and every time I return to Big Bend I always make a point to hike the Window. The first part can be deceiving since you're going downhill, so prepare yourself for a total uphill hike on the way back.

12 months ago

Added by Chris Mongeau

I am a 24 year old lifestyle and travel photographer from Providence, Rhode Island. I spend my time adventuring throughout the world or planning my next trip over coffee in my little city.

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