For climbers, Big Bend National Park is mostly a tease. Along the Rio Grande, limestone cliffs with multi-pitch potential soar, but they are mostly on the Mexican side. On the U.S. side, the rock tends to appear more chossy. In the Chisos Mountains, rugged ridges and steep faces promise great climbing, but the volcanic rock is weak, and it is scary enough just scrambling on it.
There are exceptions, though, and Basin Rock in the Chisos Mountains, close to the campground and the lodge, is one of them.
At Basin Rock, there are three established routes, some with variations. Difficulty ranges from 5.5 to 5.9. Although the routes have bolted anchors, do not come out here expecting to clip bolts, as these are trad routes. Do expect runouts and questionable rock quality.
Much to my surprise given the obscurity of the routes here, the anchors were in very good to excellent condition when I climbed here in March 2020.
First, use photos on this page to spot the crag, and then plot an approach. We drove into the campground and then roughly followed the power lines, which pass close to the crag, until we picked up a trail, sometimes faint, leading almost to the base of Basin Rock. This involved a steep descent into and out of a wash, with a lot of desert brush to crash through or avoid.
A better way I found on a second visit is to hike down the service road that leaves the campground and depart from it for the wash when it bends west toward the Window There's even a faint trail leaving the wash; use it if you can spot it.
Expect the approach to take 30-45 minutes even though the distance is short.
There are three established routes. From left to right:
You can rappel with a 70m rope. Make sure to knot the ends since there won't be much to spare. Instead of rappelling, though, just take the walkoff via the loose gully on the east side of the peak.
The entry fee is currently $30 per vehicle and covers you for a week.
Camping is available at the Basin Campground. You can reserve sites at recreation.gov. Spring, fall, and holidays, the campground usually fills.
The Chisos Mountain Lodge is also an option. It, too, can be hard to reserve.
Fall through spring. Summer might be okay at this elevation but likely will still be very hot.