Geology Waysides

Photo provided by NPS Photo / A. Atwater Goat Mtn WaysidePhoto provided by NPS Photo / A. Atwater Fins of Fire WaysidePhoto provided by NPS Photo / A. Atwater Mule EarsPhoto provided by E. SimsPhoto provided by NPS Photo / A. Atwater Badlands WaysidePhoto provided by NPS Photo / A. Atwater Windows View Trail
Geology Waysides

Here at Big Bend National Park, there are many informational road waysides along the park roads describing anything from climate and environments to pioneer ranches and farms. In addition to the trail waysides at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, there are also many waysides throughout the park that focus on the geology of the park.

Below are the listed geology waysides in the park with basic descriptions and locations:

**While the listed waysides are about geology, we suggest that you stop at every wayside to learn more, interesting information about Big Bend National Park. **

Fossil Discovery Exhibit

  • Sedimentology: Ancient Water Flow Creates Sediment Beds 

          Describes how geologists know that an ancient stream created the sandstone beds from the geologic features in the rocks and how fossils are preserved in such rocks.

  • Volcanism in the Chisos Mountains 

          Informs us about the Chisos Mountains volcano in the time after the dinosaurs and the rise of the mammals.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

(Mileages are from the start of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.)

  • Chisos Mountains (~2 miles) 

          Outlines the formation of Chisos Mountains due to volcanism and erosion.

  • Fins of Fire (~4 miles)

          Describes the formation of the igneous dikes near the Chisos Mountains and how erosion gave them their “fin”-like appearance.

  • Burro Mesa Pouroff Trailhead Sign
  • Goat Mountain (~15 miles)

          Depicts the cause of the peculiar shape of Goat Mountain due to an explosive volcanic eruption.

  • Mule Ears Viewpoint Trailhead Sign (16 miles, via Mule Ears Road)
  • Tuff Canyon
  • Santa Elena Canyon Overlook (~30 miles)

Route 12 (Road from Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village)

(Mileages are from Panther Junction to wayside location.)

  • Sunken Block (Coming Soon)(~15 miles) 

          Shows the “Sunken Block” of Big Bend that is bordered by the Sierra del Carmen to the east and the Mesa de Anguila to the west.

  • Boquillas Canyon Overlook 

          Details how Boquillas Canyon was carved by the Rio Grande River and tectonic events.

Route 13 (Road from Panther Junction to Study Butte/Terlingua)

(Mileages are from Panther Junction to wayside location.)

  • Badlands (Located right before western entrance station as you go to Study Butte) 

          Details the formation of the canyon in the painted hills due to sediment slumping and flash floods.

  • Volcanism in Big Bend National Park (Coming Soon)(2.5 miles) 

          Conveys the periodically volcanic environment during the time of the mammals that produced many of Big Bend’s mountainous landscape.

Glenn Springs Road

  • The Extinction of the Dinosaurs (Coming Soon)(~11 miles) 

          Showcases the Black Peaks Formation that records the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals.

Window View Trail (Chisos Basin)

  • Volcanic Origins 

          Describes the volcanic origins of the Chisos Mountains and the subsequent formation of the Chisos Basin.

Grapevine Hills Road

  • Grapevine Hills Trailhead Sign