Balanced Rock

A must-do desert hike to a field of boulders in the heart of the Grapevine Hills.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
3.2 km
Ascent
82 m
Descent
82 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
982 m
High Point
1.1 km
Gradient
10˚
VIEW ON MAP
Balanced Rock Map

Description

This hike to Balanced Rock is one of the best short hikes in Big Bend National Park. After a 6-mile drive down a remote yet well-maintained desert road, you can venture into the heart of the Grapevine Hills and into a stunning boulder field - home to the famous Balanced Rock. This 2-mile hike is perfect for anyone in the family, including younger children who will enjoy scrambling along the boulders.

As mentioned, this hike begins about six miles down Grapevine Spring Road, a well-maintained gravel road that begins near the Panther Junction Visitor Center. A 2WD vehicle with lower clearance is usually sufficient, but a higher clearance SUV or truck could make the drive more pleasant. The parking area is small, however, so larger vehicles may wish to consider another hike instead. There's no water or restroom area available at the trailhead.

Following the Balanced Rock Trail (sometimes listed as Grapevine Hills Trail), you will wind through a sandy wash filled with desert scrub with numerous jagged peaks defining the horizon. "The final quarter-mile of the trail is the most challenging and the most fun," according to this source, requiring a "bit of rock scrambling to get up and over the large boulders on the trail." Snakes are common, however, so consider reading this guide of snakes that can be found in the Big Bend Region - including whether they are venomous or not.

Sources: https://www.earthtrekkers.com/balanced-rock-hike-big-bend-national-park/ https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/deserthikes.htm

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly