Once there we'll ready our gear and explore attractions such as the Overland Trail Museum, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Gardens, the Rattlers & Reptiles Museum, and Fort Davis National Historic Site -- a National Park Service unit highlighting one of the best examples of a frontier military post from the Indian Wars. Outside of the riding, Bike Fest offers an opportunity for mountain-bikers to geek out with kindred spirits with parties, workshops, and games such as bike-rolling and bike bunny-hopping. Average mileage between 45 and 60 miles per day, with a variety of terrain. BIG out country - not claimed: Eurobig - Claimed: Eurobig - Not claimed: Zoom-level: 4. You can ride in the summer, but you’re limited to the early morning hours because the midday heat is down-right dangerous. Daily climbing will average between 2,500 and 3,500 feet, and we’ll move into typical grades of 3% to 6%, with occasional climbs reaching over 8% (these are typically short-lived). Expansive views and some climbing will lead us to the remote park headquarters at Panther Junction, among the least-visited units of the National Park Service. The 52 mile Epic Bike Trail Loop in Big Bend Ranch State Park has become the premier mountain biking route for serious off-road cycling enthusiasts. It's also home to a legendary unsolved mystery: Marfa's "mystery ghost lights." Notable highlights include the late artist Donald Judd's home and studio and the expansive Chinati Foundation, founded by Judd, which houses large-scale sculptures and art installations by a number of renowned contemporary artists. Call 432/424-5000. In Mike Long’s opinion, the best time to ride in Big Bend is actually the weeks following Bike Fest. But the traffic count is low, and although we're heading mostly downhill, we'll have a good dose of rolling hills throughout the day. Big Bend Ranch State Park has more than 200 miles of multiuse trails, including several popular single-track biking routes. Later on, we will drop some 900 feet before climbing again into the unique town of Marfa, made famous on the silver screen in the James Dean classic Giant and, more recently, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Soft beds and a roof over our heads reward us for a tough day of cycling and prepare us for a tougher ride tomorrow. A road rider’s dream come true, this tour offers low-traffic byways, an abundance of stunning scenery, and ample opportunities to discover the secrets of Big Bend National Park, the Chihuahuan Desert, the Davis and Chisos mountain ranges, and the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River. Previously, cycling was only allowed on the paved roads and all mountain biking was reserved for the state park. What better place to take a layover day than in Chisos Basin. 9 hour drive to Big Bend, because #yolo. (Formerly Intermediate+/Advanced Tours), Average Mileage: 45-65/day Let's find your dream tour. In late afternoon, we'll share our first group meal and discuss the details of our upcoming adventure. You should notify somebody of your planned route, including at park headquarters. You’re sure to return home with a bonanza of stories from your cycling adventure in Big Bend. Depending on the nature and location of the trip, these facilities could range from RV parks with hot tubs, to wilderness locations without running water. Photographer Erich Schlegel keeps in shape mountain biking the trails near his Lake Travis home when he’s not traveling to shoot adventures across Texas and the globe. Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more. I followed this advice several times during my Big Bend mountain biking adventures—when losing momentum on the final pedals of a steep climb up a plateau; when teetering alongside spiky lechuguilla and ocotillo blades; when barreling down a precipitous hill of gravel interspersed with rock ledges; or when simply taking a moment to enjoy new discoveries, like the sparkling hillside of quartz on the state park’s Crystal Trail or the remnants of an old candelilla wax factory in Fresno Canyon. The rolling hills, dissected by countless dry arroyos, will mark our official arrival in Big Bend country. We have two cycle-friendly accommodations in the Big Bend area, the Chisos Mountain Lodge in the center of the Park and Big Bend Resorts and Adventures in nearby Terlingua. When we were riding in the state park, we had two or three trail guys [bike patrol] with us all day to make sure we were okay, make sure we weren’t lost. Temperatures in Big Bend can fluctuate by as much as 40 degrees in a single day. In the late afternoons, the sunburned riders exchange their helmets and biking shoes for straw hats and sandals and congregate at the Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas to swap tales, pick some tunes, and check out demo tents set up by several top-of-the-game mountain-bike makers. Angell Expeditions can take you on established, maintained mountain biking trails, old abandoned mining trails, maintained or primitive single and double track, or complete off-road rugged terrain. Tex's Luavull Cycling Bikes, Futbol, Birds, Stuff. Big Bend is home to a few remarkable communities: Marathon, Study Butte, Terlingua Ghost Town, Lajitas, and Big Bend National Park. Visitors should check in at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center, 1 mile east of Lajitas on FM 170, to pay the $5 entrance fee. Adventure Cycling's van-supported tours — where all personal and group gear is transported by a vehicle each day — have 2 leaders and up to 13 riders who camp most nights and share rotating cooking duties, akin to a self-contained trip but with the security and simplicity of van support. Big Bend’s mountain-biking season lasts roughly from October through April. “This place really caters to the mountain biker this weekend. Overnight facilities vary, but tents are typically pitched on large, flat, grassy areas. Today offers an unforgettable spin through the northern and central parts of Big Bend National Park. Our journey through this hidden gem of the Lone Star State will not be without its challenges — the landscapes are vast, quiet, and empty, with long stretches devoid of services. Texas Highways Associate Editor Matt Joyce always takes his bike along on road trips, just in case. All Rights Reserved. The physical toll of climbing is eased a bit by the spectacular views along the route through Big Bend Ranch State Park. Indeed, Big Bend riding is not only prickly but also rugged, hilly and challenging, and subject to extreme temperature changes. We started with two full days and close to 100 miles of cycling that took us from Panther Junction, the park’s headquarters to the Cottonwood/Castolon campground area along the Rio Grande or as its called in Mexico, the Rio Bravo. Cell phone service in the area is minimal at best. Get the MagazineSave up to 62% off the cover price. Our gentle downhill continues today as we lose 1,800 feet of elevation on our approach to the north entrance of Big Bend National Park. The support is a safety net for mountain bikers who are new to the area or want to test their legs on new challenges. Carry spare tubes, preferably the type with sealant. If time and weather permit, we'll cap the evening with a star party at the nearby McDonald Observatory, home to one of the world's largest reflector telescopes and a perfect vantage point for viewing the Texas-sized night sky. Whether you are looking for a trip amongst the massive cliffs in Zion National Park, around the mountains in Glacier National Park, or through the ancient trees of the Redwood Forest, we have … Tour Support: A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment supports Lizard Head Cycling’s tours. W estern Montana only started looking like spring a few days ago. Of course, some mountain bikers prefer to visit the region outside of Bike Fest weekend to avoid the crowd of about 500 riders who turn out for the event. This ten-day, van-supported trip explores the wild and picturesque terrain of the West Texas Big Bend region. And Lajitas Resort is home to a 25-mile trail system—originally built for racing—that’s both riveting and accessible. Big Bend National Park, where the Rio Grande does a U-turn on the border between Mexico and Texas, is very attractive between November and April. If possible, carry an odometer, GPS unit, and satellite phone. Written by Justin Pratscher, Photographs by Trent Sheppard | From the February 2017 issue | Updated: November 20, 2018 | Filed Under: Hiking + BikingThings to DoTRAVEL. “It’s an amazing bicycle community—this many people way out in the middle of nowhere hanging out, having a couple of beers, and talking about their rides—it’s really fun,” marvels Shea Webb, a San Angelino who attended his first Bike Fest last winter. We'll take a short detour and … It was a pretty good two weeks, the first week was spent riding the rollers on a daily basis, sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. Call 888/989-6900. The rolling hills, dissected by countless dry arroyos, will mark our official arrival in Big Bend country. The weather is sure to be hot and dry, so adequate hydration will be key to a good day in the saddle. Our home for the evening is the Rio Grande Village campground located along the Rio Grande River. Big (Bend) Thoughts I feel to be in a period of transition. (Watch out for the white-thorn acacia!) Ah, a short riding day! Call 432/424-3327. Feedback / bugs? https://texashighways.com/things-to-do/hiking-biking/biking-big-bend It gives us places to go ride, and it also makes it easier for us to tell people where to go.”. This ride on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is incredible. Big Bend Ranch State Park’s East Contrabando and West Contrabando trailheads, which access most of the park’s mountain-biking trails, are on FM 170. Although there’s currently no access to singletrack in the National Park, there are plenty of jeep tracks to explore. “We didn’t have trails when we started riding out here, and so we spent a lot of time riding creek beds and cow paths and that kind of stuff,” says Mike Long, the director of Bike Fest. Big Bend is the largest, most remote, and least visited National Park in the lower 48 states. Albania Andorra Armenia Austria Azerbaijan Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark England Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania You'll have a little time before your ride to explore Marfa, home to quirky architecture, a large artist population, and an array of shops and restaurants before we cycle back to Fort Davis. Looking for a motor bike blog in Big Bend National Park? I’m climbing the side of the Wax Factory Laccolith, the eroded remnants of an ancient magma intrusion set among Big Bend Ranch State Park’s jagged ridges and dry washes. We'll remain in the park all day as we head back up the previous day's downhill and make our way to Chisos Basin. A Very Hilly tour is just that. Privacy Policy. That walk paid off, too, when the Fresno Divide trail flattened out and revealed dramatic views in every direction, from the Solitario flatirons to the Rio Grande, the Sierra Rica mountains in Mexico, and the faint outline of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. Costs start at just £50 (€70 / $80) for a permanent article that promotes your services to our 50,000+ monthly visitors. Enter Velo View Bike Tours. But let me begin with up until that point, things were pretty durn peachy. Most of the overnights will be at private or public campgrounds with a range of amenities. We'll drop down to the Rio Grande, then be sure to keep it on your left today and you're sure to remain in the United States as our ride is entirely along the fairly quiet River Road paralleling the river. For experienced riders, Bike Fest leads a group outing on the route, which the International Mountain Biking Association has designated one of the world’s “Epic” rides for its rigorous trails and scenic backcountry. Soon after riding through the village of Study Butte, we'll encounter a special treat: the almost-ghost-town of Terlingua. With the wide-open country's ever-present winds, we'll surely see headwinds and tailwinds at some point today, especially since the route zigzags in all four directions during the ride to Marathon. Held at a time of year with a good chance for cool, sunny weather, the festival schedules a slate of guided rides each day, places water stations around the riding areas, and coordinates a roving bike patrol, including EMTs and volunteers to assist with orientation and mechanical issues. At our highest, we will be roughly 5,400 feet above sea level. I don’t want to scare anyone from coming out here, but I do want people to use their good common sense and really evaluate themselves and be honest with themselves—remember where you are and remember who you are; remember your skill level.”. Our gentle downhill continues today as we lose 1,800 feet of elevation on our approach to the north entrance of Big Bend National Park. Promote your company through an article about Big Bend National Park Motor Cycling holidays, day trips or courses. With the rolling terrain and only a few steep & long climbs, the Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour is a good tour for early season conditioning. Mountain biking in the region is realistically accessible for people with moderate skill, experience, and fitness, but the experts at Desert Sports and Big Bend Ranch State Park stress the need to be prepared for the demanding environment. Anyone done any road cycling in Big Bend? If you have a flat or mechanical issue, they help you out.”. If you’re up to it, the 58-mile IMBA Epic Trail stretches deep into the park. We spent a long time in the library and going all over town, but we had nothing more than leads that were going nowhere. Longer mileage days will typically have more rolling terrain, while shorter mileage days will have hilly or mountainous terrain. We'll have "déjà vu all over again" as all but nine miles of our journey are spent backtracking. There are four developed campgrounds in Big Bend National Park, and primitive backcountry camping too. Average daily elevation gain between 2500 and 4500 feet per day, with some days possibly exceeding 4500 feet in elevation gain. Back in Fort Davis, we'll say our goodbyes to those leaving us here. Surrounded by tall, rocky cliffs, our layover day here will give us the chance to spend some time off the bike walking some of Big Bend National Park's most spectacular and popular trails. Gold’s comments remind me of a refrain I heard throughout Bike Fest: There’s no shame in walking—your bike, that is—when you encounter a section of trail that feels iffy or precarious. (50-75 vertical feet/mile). Big Bend National Park Western Spirit Cycling is all about our public lands. Held annually in February, Bike Fest draws mountain bikers to the desert for three days of riding in the state park, Big Bend National Park, and Lajitas Trails. No fee. Desert Sports, an outfitter, guiding company, and bike shop near Terlingua, carries bike equipment and rents mountain bikes. The three-day event, which benefits the Big Bend Trails Alliance—the volunteer group that has built or improved most of the mountain-bike trails in Lajitas and the state park—is an opportune introduction to mountain biking in Big Bend. © 1997-2021 Adventure Cycling Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, We’re all part of this community. That has changed a lot, especially in the last 10 to 12 years. Of course, if I were a cowboy, I wouldn’t be wearing spandex shorts and pushing my bike up this steep hill in the Chihuahuan Desert. From epic to fully supported, we offer tours that suit different styles of touring. Chances are I won’t be hitchhiking out West any time soon to hire on with a ranch or join a sheriff’s posse. A few miles west of Lajitas, we'll pass an apparent ghost town that was once used as a set for several TV westerns. All that said, if you’re properly prepared, the payoffs are magnificent—exhilarating rides, soaring vistas, inspiring isolation, and interesting perspectives on the region’s rich cultural and natural history. Experts also suggest familiarizing yourself with the trail map before setting off on a ride, and carrying a map and compass. It's back up and out of Chisos Basin today as we backtrack to Basin Junction before turning west toward Lajitas. © 2008–2020. Sign up and get new stories and inspiration delivered right to you. While it was still hot in late October, the higher elevation areas like Pine Canyon Road offered a bit of cooler weather. You will need a good freestanding tent with a ground cloth, a sleeping bag rated appropriately for the season and elevation of your tour, and a sleeping pad. That’s because you’ll have the place mostly to yourself, yet the trails are in their top condition—rehabbed for the event and then worn smooth by the recent influx of riders. Better still, it would be a real adventure to link up Big Bend State Ranch with Big Bend National Park. “You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy our trails, but you have to remember where you are,” says Nathanael Gold, superintendent of the Big Bend Ranch State Park complex. We can also stroll its historic streets brimming with art galleries and antique shops. Big Bend is a hiker's paradise. And that slog up the Wax Factory Laccolith that I mentioned earlier? The Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest will not take place in 2019. Big Bend offers many opportunities for bicycle travel and sport. You’ll have more fun and pick up confidence if you embark on your initial rides with experienced friends or a guide from one of the outfitters. With a few more days, I’d love to have ridden out and back from Presidio to Lajitas, via a 27 mile gravel road to Sauceda. Once we leave Fort Davis for the route to Alpine, we'll ride through an area that pioneer ranchers, cowboys, Buffalo Soldiers, Mescalero Apache, and Comanche have all called home. But we’ll make the most of the towns we do visit, taking time to explore Fort Davis, Alpine, Marathon, Terlingua Ghost Town, Presidio, and Marfa. Vegetarian and special dietary needs will be accommodated, though food selection may be limited in some locations. "I registered with the expectation that the distance from daily work, and the physical challenge would be the highlights, but in fact the camaraderie was the most enjoyable aspect of the tour.". “The ambulance is hours away, and if you are seriously injured, it takes hours to get to the hospital in Alpine. On Saturday, the guided rides explore Big Bend Ranch State Park with routes of varying length and difficulty. This ten-day, van-supported trip explores the wild and picturesque terrain of the West Texas Big Bend region. Once we regain Panther Junction, we'll blaze a new trail toward Chisos Basin with a significant climb nearly three miles long and grades as steep as 15 percent. April 29, 2013. We were there in January, and it was 80 degrees one day and below 40 the same night. The Big Bend is arguably Texas’ premiere destination for mountain biking. Find and compare cycling holidays and tours in Big Bend National Park. Expect to climb and descend regularly each day. Communities offer services, amenities, and entertainment. Leaving Panther Junction, we'll lose 1,900 feet of elevation over the next 12 miles while taking in breathtaking views of Mexico's distant Sierra del Carmen. Earlier this year I went to Colorado with Velo View (see post) and had a fine time, even if my cycling prowess was less than optimal. Midway through the day, we'll roll into Alpine, a great place to fuel up at one of the small cafés and diners lining the main drag. Cyclists explore a bluff from the Dome Trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park. The rewards will be worth the effort spent as we descend into cliff-surrounded Chisos Basin in the center of Big Bend National Park. Big Bend has lots to explore! Riders should train for Bike Fest ahead of time and research the gear they’ll need. Terlingua's current residents are artists and an assortment of eccentric characters. Test your management abilities as a manager of your own cycling team and reach your dreams. We'll meet in late morning near the El Paso airport for the three-hour van shuttle to our starting point in Fort Davis. We'll be reminded that this part of Texas is anything but flat as we drop 3,100 feet, leaving Big Bend National Park toward the Rio Grande. Cycling routes and bike maps in and around. The Lajitas Trails depart from the Lajitas Airport trailhead on FM 170, 5 miles east of Lajitas Resort. Find the right bike route for you through Big Bend, where we've got 2 cycle routes to explore. Day Hikes. 9 days, $1300, van supported, camping, group cooking - 345.9 mi, +17494 ft. Bike ride in Jeff Davis County, TX The Chihuahuan Desert’s stark beauty and thorny terrain distinguish it from other mountain-biking hotspots across the country. Angell Expeditions rents bikes, helmets and other gear for this, and also will guide new riders thru the course, along with interpretive talk on the history, geology, plants and wildlife. Adventure Cycling Association inspires, empowers and connects people to travel by bicycle. On Friday, the guided rides focus on the Lajitas Trails, a thrilling system of interconnected, single-track trails that dip and swerve through fast-riding badlands. We're looking to get in a couple of days at the Chisos Lodge in Big Bend, followed by a couple of days at the Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains. The 52-mile epic bike trail loop in Big Bend Ranch State Park has become the premier mountain biking route for serious off-road cycling enthusiasts. My boyhood fancies of a cowboy life on the open range, fueled by Lone Ranger reruns and imaginative bicycle escapades around the neighborhood, lost steam over time. Working with hundreds of companies our selection of Big Bend National Park motor cycling articles is one of the largest on the web. You've come to the right place!. The spring Adventure Cycling Big Bend Van Tour had a lot of folks from Northern regions and I think we all found a little joy in the desert sun.. Landscape with flowers. Desert Sports produces Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest in conjunction with Big Bend Ranch State Park and Lajitas Resort. Published monthly by the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Highways, the official travel magazine of Texas, encourages travel to and within the Lone Star State and tells the Texas story to readers around the world. Big Bend NP weather report, historic temperatures and climate info,… Searchable lists of Big Bend NP tourism offices and other helpful government agencies. Big Bend After Fort Davis, we made it in to Alpine and hoped for a short day of riding along with an indoor place to stay. Today's ride from Presidio to Marfa is one of the most challenging of our entire tour as we gain nearly 4,000 feet of elevation over 60 miles, with no support services in sight except the Adventure Cycling van. Long moved to Terlingua in 1985 and now co-owns Desert Sports, an outfitter, guiding company, and bike shop. Epic tours generally see about one indoor overnight every ten days. Please click here to jump to the Overview section with all tour details including pricing.. Big Bend Texas MTB Tour: Highlights. If there’s significant rain, the mud can become overwhelming, almost like concrete on a bike. Bicycles. After pitching our tents at our oasis for the night, we may want to check out the Hallie Stillwell Hall of Fame Museum honoring the early 20th-century female settler whose tenacious character exemplifies the pioneer spirit of west Texas. Call 432/477-2251. Average Elevation Gain Range: 2500-4500 ft/day, no high limit. Use the blue menus to narrow down the … Indoor facilities such as motels/hotels, hostels, and churches are used occasionally, but on our more remote trips, some primitive camping is possible. But I’ve still got a Lone Ranger poster, and I’ve still got a mountain bike. Our first cycling day will be spent on a slice of the Southern Tier Bicycle Route as we make our way southeast to Marathon. I saw this image and it immediately nudged me an inch closer to a position- mental, spiritual, physical-, some kind of position where I need to be, to strive towards. Led by an experienced guide, I’ve joined a couple of dozen other bikers for a ride during the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest. And you don’t have to be an expert to give it a try, thanks to a local biking community that has blazed a trail for the sport over the past 30 years. The rugged setting is a challenge: Prickly plants and tire-piercing crags line the trails of gravel, sand, and rock; the desert sun is intense; shade and water are scarce. Riders navigate trails near the Contrabando Waterhole in the state park. Sunday, January 24, 2016. And exploring the Texas countryside by bicycle still kindles my childlike excitement for adventure, freedom, and fun. A variety of guided outdoor activities are available. For those going on to El Paso, we'll begin the three-hour van shuttle, remembering our new friends and the past several days spent cycling what musical legends Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys call, "miles and miles of Texas.". 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