Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Bicycling

Many of the rides in Big Bend National Park are easier with a shuttle. If you have the luxury of having someone shuttle your vehicle or pick you up after a long day of cycling, opportunities are endless. A few suggestions follow. Check with a ranger for more information.

 

If you have a shuttle available:

 

Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village

 

Difficulty Distance Time

Easy 20 miles (all paved) 1.5-2.5 hours

 

Although there are some hills, the ride is mostly downhill as the elevation drops 1900 feet. Be wary of large motorhomes and trailers traveling this road, especially in late winter and spring. For a variation, ride to Hot Springs on the 2-mile unpaved spur road 16 miles from Panther Junction. Your shuttle can meet you at either Rio Grande Village or Hot Springs. The ride allows outstanding views of the Sierra del Carmen and the Rio Grande in the distance.

 

Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village via the Glenn Spring Road

Difficulty Distance Time

Moderate 35 miles (10 miles paved, 25 miles unpaved) 4-6 hours

 

Ride six miles toward Rio Grande Village on the paved road, then turn right onto the Glenn Spring Road. Follow the Glenn Spring Road for 15 miles as it skirts the Chisos Mountains and leads to a flowing spring before joining the River Road. Turn left and follow the river road for 9.6 miles to its junction with the paved road. Turn right and ride on the paved road for four miles to Rio Grande Village.

 

Panther Junction to Castolon via the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Difficulty Distance Time

Strenuous 35 miles (all paved) 3-6 hours

 

This ride traverses some of the most scenic terrain in the park. It skirts the Chisos Mountains and passes interesting geologic features and historic sites. Although the elevation loss between Panther Junction and Castolon is 1580 feet, the terrain is challenging with many steep hills.

 

Old Ore Road

Difficulty Distance Time

Strenuous 26 miles (all unpaved) 4-6 hours

 

This premier ride is best taken from north to south for an easier ride and great views of the Chisos Mountains. The road is rough and rocky and the terrain is challenging. Park on the edge of the Dagger Flat Auto Trail at the north end of the Old Ore Road.

 

Old Maverick Road

Difficulty Distance Time

Easy 13 miles (all unpaved) 1.5-2 hours (one way)

 

Start from the parking lot near the Maverick Entrance Station. This route is easiest from north to south. There are many good views along the route, which ends at Santa Elena Canyon. Seasoned riders can return to Maverick for a strenuous 26-mile trip.

 

If you do not have a shuttle available:

 

Panther Junction to the Chisos Basin

Difficulty Distance Time

Strenuous 20 miles (all paved) 2-4 hours (roundtrip)

 

Ride three miles west of Panther Junction to the Basin Junction, three miles of gradual uphill. At the Basin Junction, turn left and ride seven miles to the Chisos Basin. This road is very steep, with 15% grades. The elevation gain is 1650 feet. Watch for traffic and be ready to pull off the road if necessary. This ride is an aerobic challenge even for those in excellent physical condition. The ride down is exhilarating. Watch for animals and obstacles on the road and make sure you don't break the 45 mile per hour speed limit!

 

Grapevine Hills Road

Difficulty Distance Time

Moderate 15 miles (all unpaved) 2-3 hours (roundtrip)

 

Park at the junction of the paved road and the Grapevine Hills Road for this ride past interesting rock formations. For variety, hike the two-mile round-trip Grapevine Hills Trail en route. Return the same way.

 

Paint Gap Road

Difficulty Distance Time

Moderate 15 miles (all unpaved) 2-3 hours (roundtrip)

 

Park at the junction of the paved road and the Paint Gap Road. The road has a variety of substrates including sand and rocks, and is especially rough near the end. Return the same way.

 

Dagger Flat Auto Trail

Difficulty Distance Time

Easy 18 miles (all unpaved) 2-3 hours (roundtrip)

 

Park near the junction of the paved road and the Dagger Flat Auto Trail. This route is fairly flat, with a gentle uphill on the way out. Watch for sand along the way—you can get bogged down. There are many interesting plants, and bicyclists can take advantage of the auto tour guide booklet. Return the same way.