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Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park photo essay

Chisos Mountains

The Chisos Mountains as they first come into view upon entering the park

Chisos Mountains in Big Bend

The number one picturesque standout spot in Big Bend National Park is the Chisos Mountains. Big Bend is in the Chihuahuan Desert in west Texas along the Rio Grande River. Out of the desert rises the beautiful rugged Chisos peaks. The highest point in the park is Emory Peak at 7,825 feet.

The Chisos Basin is the most popular spot in the park and the best place to begin either a backcountry hiking adventure or a day trip up on top of the Chisos. On top of the Chisos plateau are pine trees and meadows, and cooler temperatures prevail.

Chisos Mountains Big Bend

The Chisos dominate the Big Bend view no matter where in the park you are

Mountains verse desert

The striking difference between the mountains and the desert defines the greatness and uniqueness of Big Bend National Park in my book (or my blog). This is why it is natural to start my Big Bend coverage with a photo essay from the Chisos Mountains. I will also do a photo essay on the desert scenery and also include posts that highlight my three day backpacking adventure through the rugged Big Bend wilderness.

Chisos Mountains Texas

The closer you get the prettier the mountains get

Chisos Mountains photo essay

The Chisos Range almost looks like Yosemite here

Big Bend National Park

A rugged beauty defines Big Bend National Park

Chisos Mountains Texas

Driving into the Chisos Basin is incredible

Chisos Mountains Big Bend

At a certain elevation trees come into play

Big Bend Chisos Mountains

Looking down on the Chisos Basin

Big Bend Chisos Mountains

Every bend reveals a new beautiful view

Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park Texas

Looking up while climbing up to the top of the Chisos

Big Bend Chisos Mountains

Hiking up the Pinnacles Trail

Chisos Mountains Big Bend

Shady trees and mountain meadows characterize the top of the Chisos peaks

Chisos Mountains Big Bend

Looking back on the Chisos while climbing down Juniper Canyon

Chisos Mountains Big Bend Texas

This is from coming down the other side of the mountains

Chisos Mountains Big Bend

Another shot coming down the Juniper Canyon on the other side of the mountains

Chisos Mountains vs. Chihuahan Desert

The mountains give way to the Chihuahan Desert

Chisos Mountains

Even in the desert- The mountains dominate the scenery

Chisos Mountains photo essay

The sun sets on the Chisos Mountains and on this photo essay


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19 Responses to Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park photo essay

  1. John Burch April 17, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Hi Ted! Nice collection of mountain photos! Thanks for sharing!
    John Burch recently posted..20 Hotels in the World That Will Blow Your Mind

  2. Renuka April 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Beautiful photos indeed! Landscape looks so rustic and gorgeous.
    Renuka recently posted..My Experiences In Melbourne

    • Ted Nelson April 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

      Thank you Renuka,

      Big Bend is a forbidding, but beautiful place.

  3. Jason Hussong April 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    I absolutely love Big Bend. Great photos, Ted. I wish you would’ve made Santa Elena. That’s my favorite place there. Did you do the Windows hike?
    Jason Hussong recently posted..Photos From London

    • Ted Nelson April 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm #


      I did not make the windows hike. I arrived in Big Bend in darkness and as soon as I awoke, I embarked on this two day hike. As soon as I was done, I was so sore and tired, I headed straight to the Hot Springs near Rio Grande Village. I was thinking about staying an extra day and hitting the Windows and St. Elena, but I was hungry for a soft bed and food, so I left for Fort Stockton. Once out of the park, it is hard to return as it is 120 miles back.

      I wish I would have visited these places, but I don’t feel that I missed out as the three day hike I took was full of gorgeous scenery. I took over 500 pictures. I now have a reason to return, and I am sure I will.

      • Jason Hussong April 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

        It sounds like you and I had very different experiences while in Big Bend, but equally amazing. I’m excited to return as well, it’s just a matter of when because of so many other great places I want to visit. I look forward to seeing more pics and reading more stories about your time there.
        Jason Hussong recently posted..Photos From London

        • Ted Nelson April 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

          When I visit a national park, I usually do a multi-overnight backpacking trip, but I usually leave at least one day for driving around and visiting cool places accessible from the road or from a short day hike. The 30 Big Bend Outer Mountail Loop Trail beat me up so much I had had enough 🙂 Good reason to come back and visit though.

  4. Charles Higgins April 19, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    Really nice photo spread, Ted…makes us want to go there.

    Charles Higgins recently posted..Deutsche Bank attempting to sell Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

    • Ted Nelson April 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      It is comparable in beauty to the Grand Canyon.

  5. Heather April 20, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    Seems like an interesting place – how much water did you have to take with you on your hike here to be safe?
    Heather recently posted..Top Tourist Attractions in Caernarfon, Wales

    • Ted Nelson April 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      I carried almost two gallons and cached another gallon 20 miles into the hike. Carrying 2 gallons made my pack excruciatingly heavy. It think it was close to 80-90 pounds. This really slowed me down, and I think actually led to me drinking more water, so I think it was counter productive. I think I would have consumed less water with a lighter backpack, but this is a tricky situation as it is better to have too much water and a heavier backpack than to be short. There are other options, which I will address in a future post.

  6. Craig Zabransky April 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Some amazing images here, great light… the desert definitely has it photography advantages…. but my favorite is definitely you with the fanny pack, that never gets old.

    stay photographing, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Postcard-The Joy of Abandon in Singapore

    • Ted Nelson April 24, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

      Thanks Craig,

      There is nothing like a fanny pack offset by desert mountains.

  7. Leigh April 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    I truly love Big Bend NP – but can’t imagine carrying the load of water you did. Your images are spectacular – and bring a smile to my face thinking back to my trip. Was it 100F for you too in the afternoon?
    Leigh recently posted..What You Can Do if Only Have 3 Hours in Leipzig, Germany

    • Ted Nelson April 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      The day I had to cross the desert it was 98 degrees. Fortunately, whispy clouds came in, so at least I did not roast in the sun. The weight of the water was oppressive. I would definitely do it differently if I did it again.

  8. Dad April 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Nice pictures, Ted. It brought back memories of 25 years ago.

    • Ted Nelson April 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      Thanks for taking me there. It was nice to come back and see this place again. A lot of the beauty, especially the first two days, was lost on me on the last trip as I was really sick.

  9. Leah April 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    I love seeing the lovely West Texas mountains through your lens. It’s a second home to me, and though I’ve not actually hiked them, I’m motivated to after watching your trip.
    Leah recently posted..Five Strategies for Discovering a New City

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