Tag Archives: Alpine

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

Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada

Banff National Park, motorcycle, trip, ride, travel, touring, adventure

Banff National Park Ride Map

Today is day  10 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list. Today I will finally get to see Banff. When I was working, I did a lot of work in Canada. While in Canada, I was told to visit Banff many times. I never seemed to have the opportunity… I was always putting out fires (fixing problems) and never had any time to spare. The best thing about finally seeing it for the first time is I am riding through it. The best way to see Banff is from the seat of a motorcycle!

motorcycle, ride, trip, touring, travel, adventure

Nice cool clear morning heading to Banff National Park in Canada

We took Hwy 1 from Golden, BC to Lake Louise Drive in Banff. Lake Louise was the one place I was told I must see.. We were not disappointed. Lake Louise is an alpine lake, known for its sparkling blue waters. It is situated at the base of impressive glacier-clad peaks that must be seen to be appreciated. It has been said,  “A pictures is worth a thousand words” but I say the heck with pictures… You need to experience this to fully appreciate its beauty.

motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring, adventure

Early morning Banff National Park Canada

While stopping at the Information Center we were told we needed to visit Lake Moraine too. They said it was even better than Lake Louise. It was a 9 mile/14 km ride from Lake Louise. Lake Moraine is 6181 feet/ 1884 meters above sea level.  Lake Moraine is a bit higher in elevation than Louise with many scenic views on the ride up. Parking at the top was a bit of a hassle. We ended up parking in a couple of triangles by a walkway. It was perfect motorcycle parking and we didn’t get in anyone’s way. Once I saw the lake I realized I had seen pictures of it before. The lake seems like something unreal or made up. Both Lake Moraine and Louise are a deep-turquoise color with beautiful glacier covered mountains reflecting from its surface.  These lakes must be seen to be fully appreciated.

motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring, adventure

Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

motorcycle, ride, travel, ride, touring, adventure

Lake Moraine Banff National Park Canada

motorcycle, ride, trip, touring, travel, adventure

Glacier at Lake Moraine Banff National Park Canada

If you are into hiking, there are many trails in Banff and is probably the best way to see Banff up close and personal. The rest of our ride through Banff was filled with beautiful views of the surrounding glacier covered mountains with some of the most pristine sparkling clear streams all along our route. While on our ride we were told about rides we needed do while in the area.  Because of time constraints we were not able to do them… but when we make it up this way again I will include them in our plans. Several people told us we must ride up to Jasper. We were told the scenery is outstanding and is a must see. The other place is highway 40 between Highway 1 and Longview, AB. It is an outstanding motorcycle ride. So if you are headed up that way you may want to check these out and include them in your travel plans

motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring, adventure

Riding down Hwy 1 Banff National Park Canada

As we rode closer to Calgary the landscape started to flatten out… a noticeable contrast to Banff but pretty in its own right.

national park, motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring, adventure

Riding through Calgary, AB Canada with rain clouds rolling in.

It’s been a long time (10 years or more) since I’ve been to Calgary. It too has probably changed a lot since then. I would have liked to spend some time in Calgary but we have miles to go before we sleep… so we rode the outskirts of Calgary on our way to Lethbridge, AB, our destination for the day. As we headed south from Calgary the scenery was mostly farm and ranch land… Very nice farm and ranch land… As we left the Calgary area the clouds got darker and we did encounter some misty rain from time to time. We seemed to have ridden between several of the rain showers that were all around us all the way to Lethbridge. The clouds and rain showers did keep the temperature down for some nice riding.

national park, motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring, adventure

One of the many farms between Calgary, AB and Lethbridge, AB

national park, motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring, adventure

Riding past one of the many rain showers on our way to Lethbridge, AB

Riding into Lethbridge we rode into a canyon and over the Oldman River. We had a good view of the railroad bridge above the canyon. It was a very impressive sight. The bridge is a bit of good engineering and construction… A good end to a very good day… Today was another good day of riding (296  miles) through one of Canada’s best National Parks. Scenery in and out of the park was outstanding with good weather all the way. I even enjoyed the ride from Calgary to Lethbridge with its scenic farm and ranch land. I enjoyed seeing some nice farm and ranch houses and barns as well as some that have seen better days. I always find myself wondering what life must be like living  there. Farming and ranching is a great life that takes a special kind of people to do it… It takes a lot of hard endless work with uncertain weather and economic futures always ahead.  A gamble when you do everything right… but very rewarding in the end. Having grown up on a cotton farm in Texas, I admire farmers and ranchers everywhere.

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom right column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

Tomorrow we will be riding to Billings, Montana. There are no planned stops, just riding more scenic Great Plains .So ride safe and I hope we will see you somewhere on the road…

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

 

Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

national park, motorcycle, ride, travel, adventure

Heading to Grand Teton National Park from Pinedale, WY

Today is day 5 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.

Today we are headed to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national Parks. We rode from Pinedale, WY to Gardiner, MT via Grand Teton and the west side of Yellowstone National Parks. Todays ride is a leisurely 230 miles so we can take in all the majesty of these two grand national parks. Its been 41 years since I’ve been here. It seems like yesterday. I wish I had gotten back sooner.

national parks, motorcycle, ride, travel,adventure

Riding into the clouds heading to Grand Teton National Park

We rode Hwy 89 north to Teton Park Road. The ride through Grand Teton was nice with views of pristine lakes, and alpine terrain on our left and to the right are grass-covered rolling plains land. In Grand Teton National Park you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River or just enjoy the serenity as you ride or drive through this remarkable place. We only had time to take pictures and memories as we rode through Grand Teton National Park.

national parks, motorcycle, ride, travel, adventure

Grand Teton National Park

national park, motorcycle, ride, travel, adventure

Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park

motorcycle, ride, travel, adventure, touring

Grand Teton National Park

We rode the west side of Yellowstone National Park to our destination for today. Tomorrow we will spend the day in Yellowstone. There are so many places to stop and see in Yellowstone you need as much time as possible. Today we stopped at “Old Faithful” Geyser. I told Larry we would probably get there just after the last eruption… You guessed it. We had to walk through hundreds of onlookers leaving the last eruption. We just missed it… So we took our time exploring the grounds until the next eruption. The average interval in 1939 between eruptions was 66.5 minutes. The average interval today is 90 minutes. Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons (14,000 to 32,000 Liters ) of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet (32 to 56 meters) that last from 1.5 to 5 minutes. As you would expect “Old Faithful” did put on a good show . I hope it is not another 41 years before I get back to see the next one.

Motorcycle, ride, travel, adventure

Entering west side of Yellowstone National Park

motorcycle, travel, adventure, tour

Riding west side of Yellowstone National Park

It was getting late in the evening so we rode on to Gardiner, Montana for the night. As we rode I was making mental notes about what we should stop and have a closer look at when we returned tomorrow. Tomorrow we will spend the day riding the figure eight in Yellowstone, stopping to see as many sights as we can.

motorcycle, ride, travel, adventure, touring

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

Traffic was a bit heavy riding to Gardiner. There were a lot of slower moving RV’s traveling through the park that didn’t take advantage of the “pullovers” to allow faster moving traffic by. I guess I should have expected the traffic since it is July and probably the peak season  for visitors.

The ride into Gardiner was very scenic where Highway 89 parallels the river. The water in the river was running so fast we could hear the rapids as we were riding by! Beautiful scenery and sounds.

Gardiner was a small western town with quaint storefronts surrounded by snow-capped mountains, green valleys, and abundant wildlife. The local folks were very friendly. We enjoyed our two night stay here.

There were Elk walking the streets of Gardiner! They were everywhere. Not only did you have to watch for pedestrians in the cross-walks but Elk that would step-out from anywhere into the street! I was wondering why many of the houses there had very high fences… but after seeing all the Elk I didn’t wonder any more…

National Park, motorcycla, ride, travel, adventure, touring

Elk in Gardiner Montana

Today was another great riding day. My only regret is not having our other riding buddies along. I really miss Janet and that she is missing all the beautiful sights…  especially the Elk roaming around town. I will be back with Janet for sure. Until then Janet will have to be content with pictures and my stories…

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page.

Update: June 28, 2013 Here is a video of the day…

See you tomorrow when we ride more of Yellowstone.  I hope we see you down the road somewhere. Ride safe…

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

Our Favorite Motorcycle Roads In Texas

Texas is large and has many nice motorcycle roads of all kinds with varying types of scenery. We haven’t ridden all the places in Texas but have ridden many of them. The list below does not cover all the motorcycle roads but are our favorite motorcycle roads in Texas.

If you have a favorite road, please feel free to leave a comment telling us where it is and why you like it.

We will update this list as time goes by so check back from time to time to see what’s new.

RR 337 – 

 

View from RR 337

RR 337 is one of the three “Twisted Sisters” (some call them the “Three Sisters”) and is my personal favorite.  337 has many tight twisty curves with shear drop offs with nice changes in elevations. There are very scenic panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country. This road is not for beginner riders. There are signs that show the number of motorcycle riders killed on the road. Take it easy and enjoy the ride and views. The road is best in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom or during the fall when the leaves are turning. For a short detour and break stop by the “Lone Star Motorcycle Museum” 3 miles north on RR 187. The museum has a collection of motorcycles from around the world dating from 1910’s to modern.  Come hungry and eat at the ACE CAFE in the Museum. Try one of their famous Aussie Meat Pies. I like them…

SH 39 –

Boots on a fence on TX Hwy 39

SH 39 is Janet’s personal favorite. The ride goes from Ingram through Hunt on to U.S. Highway 83. The ride has many curves with low water crossings and crosses the South Fork of the Guadalupe River many times. SH 39 is very scenic and tree-shaded with nice homes on much of the ride. Take is slow and easy so you can enjoy the scenery. Otherwise you will miss something the fence lined with boots.

Willow City Loop –

Bluebonnets on the Willow City Loop during the Wildflower season

 

12 miles northeast of Fredericksburg just off SH 16 is “The Willow City Loop”. It is a 20 mile stretch of beautiful Texas Hill Country back road that any motorcyclist will love. Janet and I usually take this little detour when we are heading down SH 16. If you haven’t ridden the loop, then it is time to plan a trip. and experience what the Willow City Loop has to offer.

The narrow road winds up, down and around scenic hills. In the spring the loop is highlighted with wildflowers including bluebonnet , Indian paintbrush and more. There are many cattle guards, farm gates and low water crossing so observe the speed limit. The loop is enjoyed best at a leisurely pace and do watch for cattle and people on the road. Also be aware that there will be lots of car and bicycle traffic on the loop during the wildflower season. We prefer riding the loop during the week to avoid the traffic. There are lots of photo opportunities so plan on stopping to get good shots. The property is private along the loop so please be respectful and stay on the road way.

The ride is short and takes about 30 minutes to complete but it is well worth the trip. You will not be disappointed.

SH 17 –

SH 17 from Fort Davis to Balmorhea is one of my personal favorite roads in the Big Bend Area. The scenery is a must see if you are in the area. At times you think you are not in West Texas.

Leaving Fort Davis you travel through scenic Limpia Canyon in the Davis Mountains. There is a maximum speed limit of 55 mph. In Limpia Canyon, the road is narrow and has many nice motorcycle curves, with speeds as low as 40 mph. There are also several picnic tables in the canyon where you can stop and take in the wonderful scenery. There is one large picnic area just before reaching Wild Rose Pass. About 1.8 miles past the pass, the road widens and the speed limit increases to 70 mph from there into Balmorhea.

SH 118 –

TX Hwy 118 with Alpine in background.

From Kent to Study Butte, Hwy 118 has it all. There are over 150 miles of riding fun with great motorcycle curves and amazing desert scenery. To the north Hwy 118 runs through scenic, alpine of the Davis Mountains with tight twisting and smooth curves. The McDonald Observatory, sits at 6800 ft and is a must see in the area. Ft. Davis was originally a military outpost to protect settlers from area Indians. The fort is being restored and is a state historic site. Of all the forts we have visited in Texas and elsewhere it is hands down our favorite and another must see. Just outside Alpine are the semi-desert Del Norte Mountains. Further south you drop into the desert plains of the Chihuahua Desert, where you can see the distant mountain scenery of the Christmas and Chisos Mountains. Chisos Mountains are much more rustic and colorful as you approach Study Butte and Big Bend National Park. The desert mountain area is filled with unusual lava landscapes, rustic mountain scenery, smooth, fast sweeping curves. There are many wonderful vistas and spectacular panorama views around each curve.

SH 16 –

The best section of this very long highway is south of Kerrville to Bandera. It has some very tight curves with scenic views of the surrounding Texas Hill Country.

SH 170 –

TX Hwy 170 the “River Road” going west toward Presidio

Highway 170 is known to bikers as the “River Road.” Highway 170 extends from Study Butte to Presidio. From Study Butte heading west you will travel through the mining town of Terlingua, now a ghost town with a population 25. Terlingua is the home of the “International Championship Chili Cook-off”. From Lajitas is your ride down “one of the prettiest roads in America.” About 9.5 miles from Lajitas, on your left, is the old movie set Contrabando. Several movies were made there and is worth a look.

The River Road is a spectacular ride through lush, twisting river valleys through red and purple rock rising to 1000 feet above the Rio Grande River. The road is an excellent motorcycle road; twisting and dropping to the canyon floors along the Rio Grande river. You ride through the Bofecillos Mountains formed by two ancient lava flows to the “Big Hill.” At a 15% grade it is the steepest of any regularly traveled Texas highway. Just outside Presidio, take time to visit Fort Leaton State Historic Site, one of Texas’ most unusual historic sites. Fort Leaton is a massive adobe fortress built in 1848 immediately after the Mexican War.

RR 335 –

RR 335 (A Twisted Sister) to Camp Wood from TX Hwy 41

RR 335 is one of the roads that make up what bikers call the “Three Sisters”, some refer to them as the “Twisted Sisters”. RR-335 is one of our favorite roads. It follows along the west bank of the Nueces River and has some really great views. In the spring, when wild flowers are blooming, Verbena is the most prevalent wildflower on this road. Some of the fields and pastures looked like a sea of purple and the smell hangs in the air for miles and miles. Along the way is a ranch that raise all sorts of wild animals. Near the road were kangaroos with little Joeys, giraffes and further down we saw camels. RR-335 is a twisty roller coaster of a ride but doesn’t have sharp turns so it wasn’t so bad. We rode nice and easy to enjoy the scenery.

RR 336 –

RR 336 is one of the “Twisted Sisters” or “Three Sisters”. There was a sign warning that 10 motorcyclist were killed on 336 since 2006. It was twisty but not that bad. I’m sure most, if not all,  killed were on sports bikes and riding way too fast for an unfamiliar road. I like the other two sisters better but RR 336 is a fun scenic ride.

RR 1050 –

RR 1050 runs from Utopia to U.S. 83. It has nice curves riding through scenic hills of the Texas Hill Country with several changes in elevations. You will need to stop at Garner State Park. It has scenic camping and hiking trails.

RR 965 –

 

RR 965 from TX Hwy 16 to Fredericksburg past Enchanted Rock

This ride runs from SH 16 to Fredericksburg past Enchanted Rock. It has panoramic scenic views with nice curves and elevation changes. Take the time to stop and hike up Enchanted Rock for even more panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country.

Loop 166 –

Loop 166 is in far West Texas near Fort Davis. From Fort Davis take Texas 118 and turn left onto Texas 166. 166 passes Mt. Livermore and Sawtooth Mountain, then gradually descends, with panoramic views  to the south of the Sierra Viejo Mountains along the Rio Grande River. As you return again to  Fort Davis, you have views of the Puertacita Mountains and Miter Peak. Loop 166 reaches about 6700 feet on the loop which makes it the highest public highway in Texas. It take about 1.5 hours to ride. We try to plane the ride so we are back to Fort Davis before lunch before heading out to our next destination.

SH 54 –

TX Hwy 54 from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains Nation Park.

SH 54 runs from Van Horn to Gaudalupe Mountains National Park. It’s just a nice scenic road with panoramic views of the mountains in the distance. Not a lot of curves and the curves are very gentle.

Motorcycle Travel Information For The Big Bend Area of Texas

Big Bend, motorcycle, ride

Yucca at Chisos Basin with Mt. Casa Grande in background

This information about the Big Bend area of Texas was put together for motorcycle riders but much of it is applicable for people driving. I have collected lots of information on the Big Bend area for our travels. This is my attempt to organize it for others who are traveling there. I haven’t commented on everything but have included links to give you more information. So look for the links.

When you mention Big Bend people naturally think of Big Bend National Park but the Big Bend area is much more than just the park.

The Big Bend area is a geographic region in the western part of the state of Texas in the United States bordering Mexico. It is sometimes loosely defined as the part of Texas south of U.S. Highway 90 and west of the Pecos River. The area is arid, rugged, sparsely populated and has the Chisos and the Davis Mountain ranges. The area has more than one million acres of public lands which include Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. The towns in the area are Alpine, Presidio, Marfa, Sanderson, Fort Davis, Presidio, Study Butte, Lajitas, Van Horn, Kent and Marathon.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Big Bend area of Texas… everything is “few and far between”. You need to know where lodging, food and gas are  found well in advance of your trip. Weather can also be a big issue depending on what time of the year you plan to visit.

Big Bend National Park

What I like about Big Bend National Park is its vast size that covers more than 800,000 acres. Much of the park is accessed by paved roads so it lends itself to us road bikers. For adventure off-road riders or 4×4 there are many roads for you. There are many trails for hiking. The temperatures can vary by as much as 30 degrees due to the elevation differences. The best time to visit is in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. There is so much more to Big Bend that I could never do justice describing for you. So you may want to check out some of the links below.

http://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/big-bend-national-park

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm

http://www.visitbigbend.com/en/

Boquillas Canyon Big Bend National Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Because Big Bend Ranch State Park is only accessible by high clearance 4 wheeled vehicles or off-road bikes we haven’t had the chance to explore the park… yet… So you can check out what the park has to offer with the link below.

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_br_p4501_0152h.pdf

Weather

Because of the elevation differences in the area there are temperature differences of 30 degrees or more. In Big Bend National Park it may be 98 degrees at Santa Elena Canyon and in Chisos Basin some 20 miles by road the temperature can be 68 degrees. The reason is… 5665 feet difference in elevation.

Below are the averages for Alpine. These can vary from place to place in the area due to elevations. This table is provided only to give you an idea what the averages are. I would recommend you to check the particular town and areas you plan on visiting to get an accurate number. You can check with www.weather.com or any of the other websites.

Month Average High Average Low Record High Record Low Average Precip.
January

60

30

81

0

0.54

February

64

33

86

-2

0.59

March

70

38

91

10

0.46

April

78

46

97

20

0.6

May

85

55

101

29

1.48

June

90

62

107

38

2.62

July

89

64

106

52

2.74

August

87

63

103

49

2.93

September

83

57

101

36

2.6

October

77

40

97

21

1.4

November

69

38

87

-2

0.47

December

60

31

83

-3

0.59

Lodging

Cabin we stayed at in Chisos Basin Lodge in Big Bend National Park

During the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom lodging can be hard to come by and reservations are STRONGLY suggested. If you want to stay in Big Bend National Park during that time you should make reservations a year in advance! If you don’t you most likely won’t get a reservation. “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Even for towns (Alpine, Marfa, Marathon etc.) outside the park it would be a good idea to make reservations well in advance of your trip.

Big Bend, motorcycle, ride, April

Mission Lodge in Terlingua where we stayed…

Big Bend Area of Texas

Carriage House in Marathon where we stayed

Gas stations

Gas stations are a big issue when traveling by bike in the Big Bend area. It is a long way between gas stations so keep your tank topped off. In places like Marathon they roll up the sidewalks at 5:00 so most businesses are closed. There was only one gas station in Marathon and it closed early! So don’t get there late and expect to get gas.

Big Bend National Park has over 100 miles of paved roads so bikes with limited range need to keep their tanks topped off at one of the two gas stations in the park. The gas station at Panther Junction is the most centrally located gas station and is the only station in the park that has premium gas. The second gas station is at Rio Grande Village and it only has regular gas.

Outside the park, gas can be found at the junction of hwy 118 and 170 in Study Butte. Top off your tank. It is 80 miles to Alpine and 68 miles to Presidio to the next gas station.

When leaving the park via Hwy 385 top off your tank at Panther Junction in the park. It is 68 miles to Marathon from Panther Junction.

Distances Between Points

Alpine – Study Butte: 80 miles

Study Butte – Panther Junction: 24 miles

Panther Junction – Marathon: 68 miles

Marathon – Alpine: 31 miles

Alpine – Marfa: 27 miles

Marfa – Ft. Davis:  21 miles

Ft. Davis – Alpine: 24 miles

Ft. Davis – Balmorhea: 37 miles

Marfa – Van Horn: 74 miles

Ft. Davis – Kent: 53 miles

Food

Places to eat can also be an issue for the same reasons as gas stations.

Big Bend National Park:

Chisos Basin Lodge Restaurant  – Good food at a reasonable price.

Big Bend National Park Texas. Nice view

Restaurant at Chisos Basin Lodge

Marathon:

Places to eat in Marathon are very limited and only a couple of places are open after 5:00 PM. Some of the eating places have come and gone. One of our favorite places is “Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit” but it is not always open. You can get great fried pies and coffee at Shirley’s.

For other options check this link: http://www.urbanspoon.com/n/301/45467/Texas/Marathon-TX-restaurants

Big Bend area of Texas

Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit in Marathon

Alpine:

Alpine is a small college town and has many places to eat from fast food to fine dining. Our favorite fine dining restaurant is Reata Restaurant . It is a bit pricey but the food is great.

For other dining options can be found here. http://www.urbanspoon.com/n/301/45342/Texas/Alpine-TX-restaurants

Marfa:

The only place we have eaten is the Dairy Queen but there are several good restaurants there. For a list check this link. http://www.urbanspoon.com/n/301/45468/Texas/Marfa-TX-restaurants

Fort Davis:

There aren’t a lot of places to eat in Fort Davis. The one place that is always open and a place we like to eat is the Fort Davis Drugstore. Good food at reasonable prices. For other places check this link: http://www.fortdavis.com/restaurants.html

McDonald Observatory:

The Star Date Café at the Observatory is open for lunch on some but not all days. Check this link for hours and dates.  http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/visitors/StarDate_cafe.html

Study Butte:

We have eaten at the Big Bend Resort and Adventure Restaurant because it was close to the hotel. The food was good and reasonable. For other dining options check here. http://www.visitbigbend.com/en/plan-your-trip/wheretoeat/269-wheretoeatstudy.html

Presidio:

Every time we visit Presidio we always eat at El Patio Restaurant. Eat there and you will know why. For other options check here. http://www.urbanspoon.com/n/301/45497/Texas/Presidio-TX-restaurants

Van Horn :

Van Horn is an interesting little town, with many motels, gas stations, restaurants and history. When in the area you should plan stopping here. One of our favorite restaurants in Van Horn is Chuy’s 1959. Chuy’s has great Mexican food and reasonable prices. John Madden makes a point to stop here whenever he is passing through. For more place to eat check here. http://www.urbanspoon.com/n/301/45547/Texas/Van-Horn-TX-restaurants

Towns in Big Bend Area

Alpine  – Alpine is a small college town, with motels, shopping, gas,  and good restaurants. Sul Ross University has a Museum about the Big Bend Area that is a must see. We have stayed in Alpine several times and enjoyed our stay and would recommend it a central place to stay to visit the surrounding areas. One of the more fun places to stay is the Old Holland Hotel. It’s probably not for everyone but is worth looking into.

Fort Davis  – Fort Davis is a small West Texas town with a lot to offer. There is a walking tour that takes in much of the town. It is rich in history and friendly town folks. Just outside the town is Fort Davis National Historic Site. Of all the forts we have seen, and we have seen a lot, Ft. Davis is our favorite. It’s like stepping back in time.. because. We haven’t stayed in Fort Davis but plan to someday. It does have several places to stay in town and has a great place to camp at near by Davis Mountain State Park.

Lajitas Resort – The resort is always a fun place to stop and take a break. We haven’t stayed here but it would be a nice place to stay if you want some pampering. Check out the link for more information.

Big Bend area of Texas

Lajitas Resort

Marfa   – Is an artsy town… Yes, you read that correctly. If you are into art this is the place to be in West Texas. There are lots of things to see here and it offers some neat places to stay such as the El Cosmico.

Marfa Texas in Big Bend area

The Hotel Paisano in Marfa

Marathon – Home to the famous Gage Hotel. The Gage is a must see, stay or eat. Besides the Gage there are several other places to stay in Marathon. Reservation are recommended because of its proximity to Big Bend National Park. You don’t want to get here and not have place to stay. Restaurants seem to come and go but the restaurant in the Gage is always there for your fine dining pleasure. Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit is a place to get good pastries and coffee… if it is open. Gas is limited and not always open after 5 or 6 in the evening.

Big Bend area of Texas

Gage Hotel in Marathon

Presidio  – Presidio is as close as you can get to Mexico without being in Mexico. We always enjoy stopping here and we always eat at El Patio for some good authentic Mexican food. Don’t forget to stop at Fort Leaton just outside of town on Highway 170.

Presidio Texas

El Patio Restaurant in Presidio

Presidio Texas

Ft. Leaton outside Presidio

Study Butte / Terlingua  There are several good places to stay here with several places to eat and get gas. Again it is recommended to make reservations if you are planning to stay. It is easy access to Big Bend National Park.

Van Horn

Roads

Hwy 118 –

Texas

Map of Highway 118

From Kent to Study Butte, Hwy 118 has it all. There are over 150 miles of riding fun with great motorcycle curves and amazing desert scenery. To the north Hwy 118 runs through scenic, alpine of the Davis Mountains with tight twisting and smooth curves. The McDonald Observatory, sits at 6800 ft and is a must see in the area. Ft. Davis was originally a military outpost to protect settlers from area Indians. The fort is being restored and is a state historic site. Of all the forts we have visited in Texas and elsewhere it is hands down our favorite and another must see. Just outside Alpine are the semi-desert Del Norte Mountains. Further south you drop into the desert plains of the Chihuahua Desert, where you can see the distant mountain scenery of the Christmas and Chisos Mountains. Chisos mountains are much more rustic and colorful as you approach Study Butte and Big Bend National Park. The desert mountain area is filled with unusual lava landscapes, rustic mountain scenery, smooth, fast sweeping curves. There are many wonderful vistas and spectacular panorama views around each curve.

Big Bend area of Texas

Hwy 118 with Alpine in background.

Hwy 170 –

Map Highway 170 Texas

Highway 170 is known to bikers as the “River Road.” Highway 170 extends from Study Butte to Presidio. From Study Butte heading west you will travel through the mining town of Terlingua, now a ghost town with a population 25. Terlingua is the home of the “International Championship Chili Cook-off”.

Big Bend area of Texas

Rest stop on River Road Hwy 170

From Lajitas is your ride down “one of the prettiest roads in America.” About 9.5 miles from Lajitas, on your left, is the old movie set Contrabando. Several movies were made there and is worth a look.

Big Bend area of Texas

Contrabando movie set on Hwy 170

The River Road is a spectacular ride through lush, twisting river valleys through red and purple rock rising to 1000 feet above the Rio Grande River. The road is an excellent motorcycle road; twisting and dropping to the canyon floors along the Rio Grande river. You ride through the Bofecillos Mountains formed by two ancient lava flows to the “Big Hill.” At a 15% grade it is the steepest of any regularly traveled Texas highway. Just outside Presidio, take time to visit Fort Leaton State Historic Site. It is one of Texas’ most unusual historic sites. Fort Leaton is a massive adobe fortress built-in 1848 immediately after the Mexican War.

Hwy 385 –

map highway 358 Texas

Highway 385 is the gateway of Big Bend National Park. For the most part Hwy 385 is a typical West Texas highway with scenic views of the mountains in the distance. Once in the park it becomes more scenic and ends at the park welcome center at Panther Junction.

Big bend area of Texas

Hwy 385 looking north to Marathon.

Hwy 166 Loop –

map highway 166 Big Bend area of Texas

The mountains and plains around Fort Davis are a rider’s paradise. . The Scenic Loop mileage is about 75 miles. The elevation changes from about 5,000 feet in town to a maximum of 6,270 feet with lots of ups and downs of several hundred feet in-between.

Hwy 17 –

 

Motorcycle Touring Logs, long distance motorcycle touring, long distance motorcycle travel, motorcycle ride, motorcycle riding, motorcycle road trips, Motorcycle Touring, motorcycle travel, motorcycle trip, travel

Hwy 17 Ft Davis to Balmorhea

Highway 17 from Fort Davis to Balmorhea is one of my personal favorite roads in the area. The scenery is a must see if you are in the area. At times you think you are not in West Texas.

Leaving Fort Davis you travel through scenic Limpia Canyon in the Davis Mountains. There is a maximum speed limit of 55 mph. In Limpia Canyon, the road is narrow and has many nice motorcycle curves, with speeds as low as 40 mph. There are also several picnic tables in the canyon where you can stop and take in the wonderful scenery. There is one large picnic area just before reaching Wild Rose Pass. About 1.8 miles past the pass, the road widens and the speed limit increases to 70 mph from there into Balmorhea.

 Our Motorcycle Rides to Big Bend

If Big Bend looks like something you would like to do, you might like reading about some of our rides there. The above information was invaluable when planning these trips. These can also be good road trips if you are driving.

Please Follow and Leave Us A Comment

Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom right column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…