Tuff Canyon Trail

The setting sun casts a glow over a canyon composed of gray tuff, with mountains rising behind.
Tuff Canyon with the Chisos Mountains in the distance

NPS/B. Trester

Quick Facts
19 miles from the northern end of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Parking - Auto, Trailhead

Trail Information

Roundtrip Distance: 0.75 mile (1.2 km)
Elevation Change: 200 feet (61 m)
Average Hiking Time: 1 hour

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

Tuff Canyon's three overlooks offer great views into the canyon, but it is possible to continue down the trail at the south end of the parking lot into the canyon. Once at the bottom, take a right and follow the drainage upstream into the canyon. Tuff, made of welded volcanic ash, comprises the walls of this canyon. During the rainy season the canyon fills with pools of water. Bees are sometimes active in a hive tucked up in one wall of the canyon. Further up the canyon, hard lava layers created high ledges that mark the normal turnaround point.


The tuff on the canyon rim is soft and erodes easily, so take care to stay away from the edges while up on top. The trail into the canyon is composed of loose, crumbly tuff which makes for difficult footing. Once in the rocky canyon bottom, the walk is fairly flat.
A paved pullout at the trailhead provides parking for about 6 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 5, 2021