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LJ2005 12-15-2013 07:15 AM

Big Bend.... worth the drive?
Hey everyone. I was just wondering if Big Bend's trails are worth the drive down from Killeen/Ft Hood. I'm wanting to do some sort of trip in the Jeep when I get back from Afghanistan. I was thinking this might be a fun place to check out. Who's been?

Rough Rider 12-15-2013 08:11 AM

Absolutely. YES.

Shane Rominger and I will be making our annual Big Bend trip in April. (Easter weekend) There have been several requests from folks who want to go with us. The details are as follows. Travel to the national park and wheeling on Friday, 4/18. Plan on targeting three specific trails, Old Ore Road, Glen Springs Road, and River Road. Though this may not seem like much, the shortest road out of the three is about 20 miles long and takes nearly 5 hours to complete depending on stops and breaks. River road is over 60 miles and is an all day event. It will take two full days to complete these trails. When and how we run these trails will depend on attendance and interest and be decided just before the event. Dagger Flats is a fun little trail and can be included in the Old Ore Road trail.

On Monday, 4/21 we will start wheeling in the state park. For those who have not heard or visited the state park, it is the most primitive park in Texas. You will have to bring sufficient food, gas and supplies to last the entire time you are there. The road leading to the entrance of the park is about 27 miles long, and I use the term road loosely. It is actually a dirt road that gets worse as you get further in. It takes over an hour to get to the ranger station once you leave the pavement.

Every trail in the park is unmaintained high clearance 4X4 trails. Shane and I have been twice. Once for a day visit and the last time we stayed 4 days. It was a blast and we only saw a fraction of the park. It will take numerous visits to see the majority of the park.

There are few accommodations in the park. There is a visitors center that sells shirts, stickers and such. There are showers located there as well. They do provide ice asking only for donations. There are plenty of primitive camping sites. If for some reason you forget something, the nearest town is Presidio and is a 4 hour round trip.

Anyone who want to join this adventure, please feel free to contact me. You have a 4 month lead time.

LJ2005 12-15-2013 10:31 AM

Hmm... This sounds extremely tempting and I think I'll even be on leave during that time. I've done practically all that hidden falls has to offer with a stock jeep on 31's. If i dont get my mods before this trip, should i have any problems? The videos i saw didn't look like there were many challenging sections. I'm looking at tubes, 33's, and a tummy tuck when I get back.

Rough Rider 12-15-2013 05:10 PM

A stock Jeep will do the National Park without difficulty. The state park is more challenging, but there will be plenty of winches if required.

LJ2005 12-16-2013 11:20 AM

Well i might definitely have to pitch this one to the wife. I might get a little bored with the trails themselves, but the wife should love the scenery. Sounds like I should have no problems out there.

042 12-16-2013 09:04 PM

Some of the info I've read on the state park mentions pin striping is likely. Have you guys found that to be true or is my latest read too far in the past?

Stosh1 12-16-2013 10:01 PM

In the NATIONAL Park, you should first go to the ranger station at Panther Junction. They have a large scale topographic display of the entire park with everything labeled and rangers on duty to answer all your questions. You could easily spend over an hour there deciding on where to go and what roads to take. Don't miss seeing Santa Elena Canyon and Boquilla Canyon. I took the Old River Road in my E350....rough, washboard, with some washouts, but not difficult........took 5 hours. They say Black Gap Road is the most difficult, so I avoided it.......but probably fine with a jeep. Take a look at Terlingua Ghost Town and have a burger at the Starlite there.....good place to eat and see some of the locals hanging around there. I haven't been to the STATE Park yet.

TLowry 12-17-2013 10:29 AM


Originally Posted by 042 (Post 6814105)
Some of the info I've read on the state park mentions pin striping is likely. Have you guys found that to be true or is my latest read too far in the past?

Most likely, even in the national park. I've ridden motorcycles on all the roads and always find cactus spines in my riding gear at the end of the day. Motorcycles is more narrow than jeeps.

Alamo_Beer 12-17-2013 11:36 AM

I just posted a ton about Big Bend in this thread:

Yes, desert pin striping is a very big possibility. But hey, it's a badge of honor right? :)

042 12-17-2013 06:59 PM


Originally Posted by TLowry (Post 6823889)
Most likely, even in the national park. I've ridden motorcycles on all the roads and always find cactus spines in my riding gear at the end of the day. Motorcycles is more narrow than jeeps.

I would be worried about getting cactus spines in my legs on a bike :eek: I guess that's what chaps are for.

Originally Posted by Alamo_Beer (Post 6825369)
I just posted a ton about Big Bend in this thread:

Yes, desert pin striping is a very big possibility. But hey, it's a badge of honor right? :)

My rig doesn't even have a thousand miles on it yet... It's way too soon for that kind of badge :p

Alamo_Beer 12-17-2013 09:50 PM

Bah, ya gotta break it in sooner than later! Lol. Congrats on the new rig!

TLowry 12-18-2013 07:52 AM

My rig is new too 042, not gonna stop me from doing what it's intended for. :D Still, Big Bend IS worth the drive. A lot of the roads in the park are 2WD friendly and would leave only dust and maybe mud (very scarce out there) on your Jeep.

As for chaps, don't wear em, more of a textile ballistic gear fan here. Leather riding gear and dirt bikes don't go together. Too hot and looks kinda of ... well,

042 12-18-2013 01:03 PM

Thanks Alamo. My attitude is completely the opposite regarding the mechanics; if it breaks, fix it. I'm gonna baby the paint though.

I can definitely understand not wearing the leathers for both reasons ;)

hangout 12-19-2013 09:13 AM

Oh man I would love to join Yall I'm uber excited now. Just sent pm

Rough Rider 12-19-2013 11:00 AM

042 - Pin striping is a definite probability in the state park. Consider it a badge of honor.

mrayb 12-19-2013 08:33 PM

Big Bend was a blast for me and my wife. She has a 13 JKU, and I have a 13 JK. It had rained, and the river was out. We got to do some baby rock crawling, and mudding. WAY TOO MUCH FUN!!!!!

Bearpaw 12-23-2013 06:33 PM

Got to talk to my better half but would be fun.

DigDug 02-19-2014 11:00 AM

Darn, just found this thread. I'll be out that way the following week chasing the BBORR and then doing some off-roading. Looks like I'll just miss you guys. Please let me know how the conditions are. I was planning to attempt the Black Gap Road in Big Bend as well. I'll be in a 2013 stock JKU Sport with 3.73s and anti-spin rear diff. The only mods are Rubicon take-off BFG Mud Terains.

Have fun and post some pics!

ATX14 04-26-2014 12:54 PM

Rough Rider, did you make it out to Big Bend? I'm curious about how the trip went and I'm thinking about going there myself.

TX_TJ 04-26-2014 03:37 PM

I have wanted to go for a while now. People tell me all the time that's its worth the drive. I'll try to get over there this summer.

jeepers29 04-26-2014 04:08 PM


Originally Posted by TX_TJ (Post 10175857)
I have wanted to go for a while now. People tell me all the time that's its worth the drive. I'll try to get over there this summer.

My understanding is that it is extremely hot out there in the summer. May want to plan a fall trip.

USMC Wrangler 04-26-2014 05:32 PM

Yep, it was 104 on Wednesday down on the east side of the park, and it's only April. I work and live in the park. It's all still very new to me, but I can give (or get) very updated backcountry road conditions. My buddy and I did a photo/video trip of Black Gap on 12/30/13. It's kinda long (20 mins or so) but I couldn't make myself cut much out. Both Jeeps are pretty much stock but still a very good time.

I have not made it over to the Big Bend Ranch State Park yet. I do hear the roads are more intense there and it is on my to do list. Mostly because I can't swing a set of appropriate tires to replace the stockers. Anyone have a set of lightly used 8-10 ply tires in 17" they can part with???

Also is a great place to get info on the parks down this way. Shoot me a PM when any of you are coming down. If I'm free, I'll meet up with ya to drive Black Gap!

ATX14 04-26-2014 07:30 PM

Thanks for the information about the park & I like your video. I'm ready to make my road trip after watching the video.

USMC Wrangler 04-26-2014 08:37 PM

Glad it helped. I know is nothing extreme, but it is fun to me. Let me know if I can help further or if you need another Jeeper with you when you hit the backcountry roads. The farther advance notice the sooner I can adjust my work schedule.

TLowry 04-29-2014 08:19 AM

I was there Friday on my motorcycle, it was 100F in Study Butte.

Fall can still be hot as well. I ride motorcycles out there in the winter and spring before the weather gets too hot.

We went in March in the Jeep and weather was perfect. Jeep did fine on stock lift and tires.

Ole Ore Road - YouTube

JKRolling 05-01-2014 04:34 PM

That looks like a good trail TLowry, perfect for a first run in the new rig!

DigDug 05-02-2014 09:20 AM

I just got back from Big Bend Ranch SP yesterday. WOW! If you like to explore without crowds, this is the place. There are no RV hook ups (the road into the park is too rough for most RVs) and the only showers are in the middle of the park at the old ranch house. I had a very nice chat with an employee at the park on what to see and do. He was 70 y.o. and arrived there a couple of years ago as a volunteer and now lives and works there.

He sent me to The Solitario in the eastern part of the park to a campsite called Tres Papalotes (3 windmills, I think). I left the Sauceda Ranger Station around 2PM. (One note on the Ranger Station, it is about an hour drive off of 170 near Presidio TX. It's 27 miles of rough road to get to the Ranger Station so you won't see much traffic from look-see tourists!)

After about an hour of driving I encountered a couple of older Jeeps with one person each followed a little later by a single gal in an F150 4x4! My kinda pioneer woman! They were both headed opposite my direction. From that point on I did not see another human being, campsite, tent, mountain bike, NOTHING. I drove for a total of about 50 miles on trails and roads all by myself. Not even an airplane in the sky. Camped under the stars in very windy conditions. Bring a good tent. It was around 4000 ft as I recall. It got down into the upper 40's overnite.

I explored the former Crawford-Smith house and ranch in Fresno Canyon. It's hard to believe that anyone ever lived here but it was on the old Marfa to Lajitas road that ran through the canyon. It has been abandoned since the 40's.

I headed back out to the Ranger Station before I saw another human being. I did not see the mountain lion that had been eating a deer on the road as described by the old gentlemen. It probably dragged its prey into the brush for a more private meal.

Water and ice are also available at the Sauceda Ranger Station. Gas is NOT. If you want to spend a lot of time in the park bring extra fuel otherwise you will have to go back to Presidio to refuel.

I didn't encounter any roads that my JKU with Mud Terrain KM's couldn't handle. There were a few 4-LOW hills but mostly very Jeep-able with standard ground clearance. I did not get on any of the 4WD Unmaintained roads (marked in yellow on their Discovery Map) because I was alone. The old man said they had to pull a Rubicon out the week before on one of those because of a burnt clutch. Pinstriping is free throughout the park. The brush in the park has 10 penny nails for thorns.

I would post some pics but my wife ran off with my USB cable. I'll try to post some later. I haven't been on Black Gap Road in the National Park so I can't give you a valid comparison of the two. As far as fees, facilities, personnel and crowds go...I give the State Park a thumbs up over the National Park. It seems the States always run things better than the Feds do....but that's another discussion.

BTW, the only entrance to the park is on the SW corner near Presidio. The old man tells me it keeps the riff-raff out! The easiest way to get into the park would be to land your C-130 on their 5500ft runway and then unload your gear right at the Ranger Station. ENJOY!

JustKause 05-02-2014 09:47 AM

Thanks DigDug for the latest insight, sounds like a great place! My neighbor has been there a few times but recently in his Jeep for the first time and he couldn't stop raving about it, saying we have to arrange a trip. Between his comments and those on this thread (I have subscribed by the way to follow the updates) this destination is definitely on my bucket list, and by the sounds of it I'll need to include multiple visits in that bucket to get a full appreciation. Now, just to figure out when I can fit the drive across state into my schedule at a time when I'm not going to melt out there! ;)

TLowry 05-02-2014 10:15 AM

Black gap is the only unmaintained road in the NP. It's jeepable and only has one hairy spot at the top of the hill. It shows up at 1:10 on this vid.

Black Gap - YouTube

USMC Wrangler 05-02-2014 11:48 PM

Thanks DigDug for all that info. I'm just waiting on appropriate tires to make the trip. I live only about 2 hours drive away from there and it's eating at me to go!

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