Tag Archives: Alpine Texas

Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 3

Big Bend National Park Motorcycle Ride Map Day 3

Big Bend National Park Motorcycle Ride Map Day 3

Below is my navigation system before GPS. I kept it on the gas tank for quick reference.

Day 3 Alpine , Ft Davis to Sanderson    Hwy       Miles
Alpine to Ft. Davis                                                       (118)           24 (Really nice ride)
Ft. Davis to McDonald Observ.                              (118)          ~12 (~ are approximate)
McDonald Observ. To 166 loop                             (118)          ~12
166 loop to 117 S. of Ft. Davis                                 (166)          ~51
Note: If we are low on gas, we can back track, a couple of miles, to
               Ft. Davis for gas.
Ft. Davis to Marfa                                                        (117)             21 GAS (~109 miles)
Marfa to Alpine                                                             (90)              26
Alpine to Marathon                                                     (90)              38
Marathon to Sanderson                                             (90)             54 GAS (118 miles)
Total                                                                           ~238

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Officer Quarters at Fort Davis

Officer Quarters at Fort Davis

We checked out of the hotel and rode up to Fort Davis, the highest town in Texas. What a beautiful ride it was up highway 118. We spent a couple of hours touring the fort. (This is Janet’s and my favorite fort to visit) If you haven’t ever been there you need to go. After that we rode up to McDonald Observatory. The road to the observatory is the highest paved road in Texas and another  ride in the Davis Mountains. After stopping for a short tour we took the beautiful scenic loop 166 back to Marfa. Loop 166 was pretty, but we ran into some construction and had to ride several miles on deep gravelled road. That was not fun! It made for some intense riding. The scenery along 166 is beautiful but I didn’t see much of it… I was too busy keeping the bike on the straight and narrow. 😉 We managed to made it through without any mishaps.

Ivan Janet Ginny Gary McDonald Observatory

Ivan Janet Ginny Gary McDonald Observatory

Our next stop was the Apache Trading Post west of Alpine. When Janet and I were here last September we stopped here and met a woman named Shirley. She and I got to talking about motorcycles. Turns out she used to ride and she told me I should ride out there sometime with Janet. So, of course, we had to stop by and tell her we had ridden out on the motorcycle. She thought it was great! We had a good time visiting with her. Shirley can also give you lots of information about the area and, of course, the Marfa Lights. We stopped at Jackassic Park (at the trading post) to visit old Pete. He’s the donkey that starred in the movie THE MEXICAN with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. He sang for us. Then we headed out to Sanderson where we spent the night.

There is not much in Sanderson except the Budget Inn, a convenience store and the Red Dog Saloon. By then we were only looking for food and a place to sleep. The only food we found was at the convenience store. Slim pickin’s here.

Tomorrow we ride home via Langtry home to the infamous Judge Roy Bean…

Here are the links to the other days of this ride.

Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 1
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 2
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 4

If you enjoyed this post you may like these too…

  1. Big Bend Ride 2007
  2. Big Bend/Carlsbad Cavern Ride 2009
  3. Riding Information on Big Bend Area of Texas
  4. Tips on Long Distance Touring
  5. Riding Fit… Riding Smart
  6. Getting the Wife to Ride

Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 2

2002 Big Bend Motorcycle Ride Map Day 2

2002 Big Bend Motorcycle Ride Map Day 2

Below is my navigation system before GPS. I kept it on the gas tank for quick reference. It served us well…

Day 2 Big Bend Route                                                                   Miles
Alpine to Study Butte                                                                            80  GAS
Study Butte to Santa Elena Junction                                               13
Santa Elena Junction to Castolon                                                     22
Castolon to Santa Elena Canyon Over Look                                 8
Santa Elena Canyon Over Look to Castolon                                 8
Castolon To Santa Elena Junction                                                     22
Santa Elena Junction to Chisos Mountains Basin Junction    10
Chisos Mountains Basin Junction to Chisos Basin                      10  Lunch Chisos                                                                                                                                           Mtn. Lodge
Chisos Basin to Chisos Mountains Basin Junction                     10
Chisos Mountains Basin Junction to Panther Junction            3  GAS (103 miles)
Panther Junction to Rio Grande Over Look                                 20
Rio Grande Over Look to Boquillas Canyon Overlook            4
Boquillas Canyon Overlook to Rio Grande Over Look            4
Rio Grande Over Look to Rio Grande Village                            ~2 (~ is approximate                                                                                                                                    miles)
Note: There is a store and gas (no  premium) here.                                                        Rio Grande Village to Rio Grande Over Look                           ~2
Rio Grande Over Look to Panther Junction                              20 GAS (~52 miles)
Panther Junction to Marathon                                                        95
Marathon to Alpine                                                                              38 GAS (133 miles)

Total                                                                                       ~368

Highway 118 stop

Highway 118 stop

We were up early and rode out to Big Bend. The ride out was scenic and the temperature was cool. By the time we got to Santa Elena Canyon, it was so hot! Mid to upper 90’s. June is not the best time to ride Big Bend because June is the hottest month. Because of the drought the Rio Grande was almost dry but the canyon was still impressive. We spent some time hiking, taking pictures and taking in the majesty of the canyon.

 Deer at Chisos Basin Lodge

Deer at Chisos Basin Lodge

Janet and Me at Chisos Basin Lodge

Janet and Me at Chisos Basin Lodge

From Santa Elena Canyon we were off to the Chisos Basin for lunch at the lodge. The ride was beautiful up the winding mountain road. There is not much traffic but the road is narrow with no shoulders, steep climbs, descents and tight corners with limited visibility.

Century Plant in Bloom at Chisos Basin Lodge

Century Plant in Bloom at Chisos Basin Lodge

Because the elevation is several thousand feet higher than Santa Elena Canyon it is much cooler. The temperature at the top was in the low 70’s vs. 90’s down at the river. What a nice difference. Janet and I think that Chisos Basin is the prettiest part of the park. It has great views and there is wildlife to be seen. Today we had deer grazing near our bikes at the Lodge.

There is only one place to eat in Big Bend and that is the lodge at Chisos Basin. It has good food and the prices aren’t bad for a national park. So if you plan on eating while in the park you will need to plan your trip accordingly. Everything is few and far between so plan wisely.

From Chisos Basin we rode to Panther Junction. In the park, gas is only available at Rio Grande Village and Panther Junction. The station at Panther Junction is centrally located in the park. I would suggest gassing up every time you ride by (remember few and far between). It is the only station that has premium gas for those of you like myself who requires premium for their bike. We gassed up at Panther Junction and spent some time at the Ranger station before heading back to Alpine. We did not get to see as much of the park as we would have liked. We didn’t make it to the eastern side of the park. Note to self… Next trip we will try to stay closer to the park so that we are not spending most of our time traveling to and from the park.

Because of the distance and the time we spent in the park, it caused us to ride in the dark before arriving at the motel. No big deal, but there are some big deals (animals) that are out and about after dark. Not a good thing for motorcyclist…

Tomorrow we ride to Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, Marfa, Marathon and Sanderson for the night…

Here are the links to the other days of this ride.

Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 1
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 3
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 4

If you enjoyed this post you may like these too…

  1. Big Bend Ride 2007
  2. Big Bend/Carlsbad Cavern Ride 2009
  3. Riding Information on Big Bend Area of Texas
  4. Tips on Long Distance Touring
  5. Riding Fit… Riding Smart
  6. Getting the Wife to Ride

Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 1

2001 Big Bend National Park Ride Map Day 1

2001 Big Bend National Park Ride Map Day 1

On May 31, 2002, Janet (my wife) and I, my brother Gary and his wife Ginny, my Air Force buddy Larry C. and a friend of his (also named Larry) rode to Big Bend. We had originally planned the trip for the end of March but rescheduled because of the birth of Larry’s first grand baby in May. My friends Larry C. and Larry T. rode from Alabama and Georgia to Georgetown. It took two days riding in rain to get to Georgetown… Sometimes they were riding in heavy rain. Not a fun two days riding… Janet was new to riding and this was her first long ride. So… I was hoping the weather and West Texas would treat us well. I had planned the trip for over a year down to the last detail. This was to be a four-day ride but as you will see later we deviated from the plan on the 2nd and last day. My biggest concern was gas stations in and around Big Bend. Everything is few and far between in West Texas so it is good to plan ahead and know where there is gas and other facilities. There were four motorcycles on the trip. Janet and I rode a 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, Larry also rode 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, Gary and Ginny were riding a 2002 Kawasaki Voyager and Larry’s friend Larry was riding a 1986 Yamaha Venture pulling a trailer. The trailer was nice to have along, especially for carrying a cooler. We made many stops to rest from riding in the heat and it was good to have a cold drink… Thanks Larry T. for bring the trailer.

Below is my navigation system before GPS. I kept it on the gas tank for quick reference. It served us well…

Day 1 Georgetown to Alpine Route      Hwy           Miles
Georgetown to Burnet                                             (29)                35
Burnet to Llano                                                           (29)                30
Llano to Mason                                                           (29)                34 GAS (103 miles) Mason to Menard                                                      (190)              38 Menard to Ft. McKavett                                                                      (190-864)    22 Play tourist
Ft. McKavett to Sonora                                         (864)              41 GAS (101 miles) Sonora to Ozona                                                       (I-10)              36 Lunch?
Ozona to Bakersfield                                              (I-10)              72 GAS (108 miles) Bakersfield to Ft. Stockton                                  (I-10)             36 Ft. Stockton to Marathon                                                                     (385)              58
Marathon to Alpine                                                  (90)                31 GAS (125 miles)                                                                                                                                     & motel

Total                                                                                                       437

Ft. McKavett  getting ready to tour fort.

Ft. McKavett getting ready to tour fort.

Officer's quarters ruins at Ft. McKavett.

Officer’s quarters ruins at Ft. McKavett.

Ft. McKavett

Ft. McKavett

We left our house in Georgetown at the crack of dawn with much anticipation of a great ride. The temperature was cool until noon making for some nice riding. On the way we stopped a Fort McKavett and spent some time touring the fort. Fort McKavett is the first of two old forts we visited on this ride. Fort McKavett consists of 19 restored buildings located near Menard, Texas. Several of the buildings had been restored and refurbished with period furniture. Restored structures include the officers’ quarters, barracks, hospital, school-house, dead house and post headquarters. There are also ruins of several buildings, most notably the commanding officer’s quarters, which burned in 1941, and barracks. Fort McKavett was, as is the case of most forts in Texas, home to famous Buffalo Soldier regiments. If you like old forts, this is a good one. So if you are in the area, take some time and have a look. From Fort McKavett we took I-10 west to US 67. On US 67 we headed south to Alpine. In the afternoon temperatures began to rise. The temperature climbed steadily into the high 90’s. In Alpine, we checked into the Best Western Hotel. After 436 miles everyone was still smiling but tired because of the heat and distance.

Janet and Ginny are smiling after a long day of riding in the heat.

Janet and Ginny are smiling after a long day of riding in the heat.

That night we rode out to view the Marfa Lights. We were tired after a long day of riding but we were not going to miss seeing the Marfa Lights… These are mysterious lights that appear outside of the town Marfa. They had been reported since way back in the 1800’s and no one seems to know what they are. Native Americans knew about the lights long before the first recorded sighting in 1883.The Marfa Lights are viewable year round. You may view them any time after sunset at the Marfa Lights Viewing Area, nine miles east of Marfa on Highway 90. We were not disappointed. We saw them and I am not sure what to think of them. It was long day of riding in some Texas heat. We slept good that night after a full day of riding.

Tomorrow we ride to Big bend National Park.

Here are the links to the other days of this ride.

Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 2
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 3
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 4

If you enjoyed this post you may like these too…

  1. Big Bend Ride 2007
  2. Big Bend/Carlsbad Cavern Ride 2009
  3. Riding Information on Big Bend Area of Texas
  4. Tips on Long Distance Touring
  5. Riding Fit… Riding Smart
  6. Getting the Wife to Ride