Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail

A gravel path begins next to a brown wooden trailhead sign and heads west towards the Chisos Mtns.
Learn about Big Bend's desert inhabitants along this short trail

NPS/C. Negele

Quick Facts
6 miles east of Panther Junction on the road to Rio Grande Village

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Restroom - Accessible, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trailhead

Trail Information

Roundtrip distance: 0.5 mile loop (0.8 km)
Elevation change: 30 feet (9 m)
Average hiking time: 30 minutes

Dogs and other pets are not allowed on any trails in the park.

The trailhead is located at Dugout Wells, across the road from the picnic area, and is marked by a brown wooden sign. This short loop winds through vegetation typical of lower elevations in the park, and small metal signs along the way introduce plants commonly found in the Chihuahuan Desert. The trail ends at the lower side of the loop road that wraps around the oasis of Dugout Wells, and a short spur brings you through the trees back to the start.

The trail is composed of dirt and gravel and and meanders in and out of small arroyos as it completes a circle back to Dugout Wells. 

The gravel lot at Dugout Wells provides parking for about eight vehicles. 

Hike Smart

Bring plenty of water!
Carry 1 liter of water per person per hour that you plan to hike. The importance of carrying enough water in this hot, dry climate cannot be overstated!

Your body needs food for energy and salts and electrolytes to replace what it's losing from perspiration. The dry climate at Big Bend means that sweat often evaporates almost instantly; your body is likely losing lots of moisture and salts without you even realizing it. Eat plenty of salty snacks to keep your body's salt-to-water ratio in balance.

Sun protection
Carry sunscreen and use it liberally. Hats are also strongly recommended. It may seem strange to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in hot weather, but many hikers choose lightweight, breathable clothing which covers their arms and legs to protect themselves from the sun. 

Don't leave people behind
If you're hiking in a group, make sure the person in the back always has someone to help.

Be aware of wildlife
Keep an eye out for snakes, and remember to maintain a safe distance between yourself and all wildlife. Animals in the park are wild and should never be approached, harassed, or fed.

Don't stack rocks
Cairns are stacks of rocks which are sometimes used to mark trails in areas where they are hard to follow. Randomly stacked rocks can lure hikers off the correct trail. 


Big Bend National Park

Last updated: April 3, 2021