Exploring Big Bend National Park takes time as it’s huge! We took one day and drove out the gravel Old Maverick Road to Santa Elena Canyon Trail, and then around on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Santa Elena Road is rough, but no match for the truck. Once at Santa Elena Canyon, we did the short 1.6 mile hike to the end of the trail in the Rio Grande. The trail is easy, even paved in the switchback section. You aren’t here for the hike though, you’re here for the views! The entire hike gets you up above the Rio Grande in a very scenic rock walled canyon. We plan to paddleboard up the canyon in a couple days, that should be awesome.
Back at the truck, we drove around and looked at a couple more viewpoints. At Tuff Canyon we got out and hiked the 1 mile loop to the overlooks and down into the canyon where we checked out all the interesting rock formations before hiking up and out of the canyon. We stopped at Sotol Vista, which wasn’t as impressive as sotol forest in the Franklin Mountains. Tomorrow is going to be our first ride in the park. You can’t ride any of the trails in National Parks, but there are quite a few miles of gravel roads to explore.
River Road Ride
Derek’s mountain bike is sick. The bottom bracket clunks and feels like crap. We tried taking it to the one sports shop in Terlingua, TX but they didn’t have the special tool to take it apart so it will have to wait. That’s unfortunate because we have a few gravel road rides we want to check out in the next couple weeks. These roads are pretty rough gravel, rock, and sand and while his gravel bike will work, it would definitely be better if he could ride his mountain bike. That didn’t stop us. We rode River Road West out 16 miles or so and then turned around and came back. This is the southern most road in Big Bend National Park and winds around alongside the Rio Grande.
Did I mention the road is very rough with rocky and sandy sections? It’s remote, we saw 2 other people in the few hours we were out there. We like being off the beaten path and this fit the bill. The views are sometimes of the river, often of the surrounding mountains and rocky buttes. It has been pretty warm the entire time we’ve been in Big Bend State and National Park and today we saw temps reach 84! No complaints from me!