• Sierra del Carmen

    Big Bend

    National Park Texas

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  • Extreme Water Shortage

    Extreme water shortage throughout park. Visitors are limited to 5 gallons per day, and are encouraged to conserve further when possible. Please consider bringing your own water to the park.

Outer Mountain Loop

Red Rocks in Blue Creek
Red Rocks in Blue Creek
NPS Photo/Reine Wonite
 

Difficulty: Strenuous; significant elevation changes and primitive trail
Distance: 30 miles (side-trips to the South Rim or Emory peak add up to five additional miles).
Time: Allow at least three days

The "Outer Mountain Loop" refers to the 30-mile circuit that combines the Pinnacles, Juniper Canyon, Dodson, Blue Creek, and Laguna Meadows trails. Although you can start/end this trip in the Chisos Basin, Juniper Canyon, or the Homer Wilson Ranch, most hikers begin from the Basin and hike the trail in a clockwise direction. Sections of this trail are extremely steep; there is limited flat or level hiking. The loop is Big Bend's signature multi-day backpacking trip and includes a wide variety of habitats and scenery including, the piñon/juniper/oak woodlands of the Chisos, and stark, rugged desert in one of the most wild and remote corners of the United States.
 

Safety Concerns

  • Each year, park rangers are called to respond to medical emergencies along this route. Most are the result of severe dehydration and heat-related conditions.
  • Backcountry permits are required for all overnight backpacking in Big Bend National Park.
  • Cell phone service is limited in the park. Always have a friend who knows your itinerary and can call the park if you are overdue.
  • Please, do not attempt this hike during the summer months. From early May through early October, it may be physically impossible to carry enough water to safely hike this trail.
 

Water

Water is always a concern on this trail. Do not rely on seasonal, intermittent, or ephemeral springs. We recommend that you carry a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day. Caching water at one or two locations along the loop, in addition to packing all you can carry before setting out on your hike, is the key to success on the Outer Mountain Loop. Water can be cached at the end of the Juniper Canyon Road (requires high clearance or 4WD) or at the Homer Wilson/Blue Creek Ranch. A storage box is available there for caching water. When caching water, remember to mark each bottle with your name and the date you plan to pick up the water. Please pack out empty bottles.
 

Suggested Itinerary

Outer Mountain Loop Route

Did You Know?

Big Bend Natural History Association logo

Established in 1956, the Big Bend Natural History Association operates bookstores in all the visitor centers in Big Bend National Park. During that time they have contributed $1.8 million dollars to support the mission of the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park and Amistad NRA. More...