Alto Relex

Marathon, Texas

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Alto Relex—it’s a name and a soaring plateau that has always intrigued visitors to the national park. Geologist Ross Maxwell, in his article about the region written for a national park service publication in 1941, claims the name meant “high bluff.” The translation falls short, however, as while alto is Spanish for “high” or “tall,” it also means “stop.” And the word “relex” doesn’t seem to appear in any language. It’s a mystery. Needless to say, a hike up Alto Relex reveals plenty of outdoor magic. Once hikers mount a good portion of the northeast face, the plateau’s uneven but expansive cap offers splendid views of the Chisos range to the east. It also provides vertiginous overviews along the three major pour-offs that dump tremendous amounts of rainfall over the west face to the desert below. This off-trail hike onto one of the most interesting plateaus in Big Bend National Park can be enjoyed in a day with an overnight at the Telephone Canyon campsite.

Alto Relex Professional Review and Guide

"Alto Relex—it’s a name and a soaring plateau that has always intrigued visitors to the national park. Geologist Ross Maxwell, in his article about the region written for a national park service publication in 1941, claims the name meant “high bluff.” The translation falls short, however, as while alto is Spanish for “high” or “tall,” it also means “stop.” And the word “relex” doesn’t seem to appear in any language. It’s a mystery.

Needless to say, a hike up Alto Relex reveals plenty of outdoor magic. Once hikers mount a good portion of the northeast face, the plateau’s uneven but expansive cap offers splendid views of the Chisos range to the east. It also provides vertiginous overviews along the three major pour-offs that dump tremendous amounts of rainfall over the west face to the desert below. This off-trail hike onto one of the most interesting plateaus in Big Bend National Park can be enjoyed in a day with an overnight at the Telephone Canyon campsite."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Marathon
Distance: 5.5
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 8 hours
Season: Best in Winter
Trailhead Elevation: 3,000 feet
Top Elevation: 3,800 feet
Local Contacts: Big Bend National Park
Local Maps: USGS Roys Peak
Driving Directions: Directions to Alto Relex

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May 2018