Goat Mountain is a volcanic peak located in the Sierra Quemada in the southern Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park. While not well known among the average park guest, this mountain is a gem for geologists. A distinct v-shape is cut into the lowest of the massive layers. This is an ancient river valley that was then filled in by another lava flow. These lavas came from vents in the Burro Mesa and Sierra Quemada area roughly 35 million years ago. This volcanic activity led to the deposition and forming of many unique and interesting minerals that can all be found on and around Goat Mountain. This peak has not been developed by the park service, so no trails exist on it nor to its base. Goat Mountain has two main peaks sperated by a steep gully. The eastern peak is the highest at 4,625 feet, while the western summit only reaches 4,540 feet. There are multiple ways to approach both summits, from bushwhacks around either side and up the sloping backside, or straight up the steep gully and out to either peak. Whichever route you choose, be prepared for a long, multi-hour hike through the rough Chiuahuan Desert and a chance to see a beautiful peak few people experience.
A large lava bomb in the ash fields in front of Goat Mountain © Ryan Becker
From Panther Junction, head west towards Maverick Junction. After 13 miles, head south on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. You will travel another 12 or 13 miles untill you pass the Chimneys trailhead. Continue down the road untill you find a suitible place to park, and pull off the road. The ground is very soft here, so choose a spot that is flat and wide enough so taht your vehicle is completely off the road. This is a perfectly legal way to park, you will receive no citations from rangers.
Because Goat Mountain is located inside Big Bend National Park, there is a $15 per car entrance fee, which is good for 7 days. There are no fees to hike or climb, however a free backcountry permit is required to camp. Camping at Cottonwood or the Basin is $10 per night.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend, TX 79834
The nearest camping area is the Cottonwood campground near the Rio Grande. The Basin is also relatively nearby, as well as a number of roadside backcountry sites. Camping is not permitted near or on Goat Mountain. See the Big Bend National Park page for more camping information.
When to Climb
Winter months are the ideal months to climb in the Chisos, but early spring and late fall can be nice as well. Avoid climbing during spring break due to enormous throngs of people, unless you enjoy the crowds. Summers are still climbable, but a very early start is highly recommended to avoid the high afternoon heat. Temperatures in the summer in the southern regions of Big Bend NP commonly reach 110 degrees, so extreme caution must be taken.