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Big Bend

The Window

Photograph by Aaron Bates

The famous window, that vertiginous notch in the Chisos Basin, is so spectacular and relatively simple to reach that the hike to it can feel a little like cheating. It’s worth noting that there is a short paved path from the park’s lodge to a view onto the Window, but that’s nothing compared with what you’ll find by tackling the five-miles-plus trail (out and back) to the pour-off itself. The moderately descending path, which has trailheads both at the Chisos campground and the lodge, is flanked by oak forests and crisscrosses grooved and cracked limestone, the same as can be found along the Rio Grande, a dozen miles away and two thousand feet below. The trail finally reaches its lofty terminus at the slick lip of a two-hundred-foot cliff; the emptiness of the desert below will relieve any claustrophobia you might be feeling from the crowds of fellow tourists. In fact, if you time your hike for the evening, when twilight washes the scenery in otherworldly oranges, violets, and purples, you probably won’t mind these other explorers at all. I know I didn’t.


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