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Big Bend Ride 2004 Route Plan
October 2004

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Big Bend Trip (Starting out from Austin)

The Ride: A ride that covered over 1350 miles over four days through Big Bend Country. The ride departed from Austin and took us on the top rated scenic roads in Texas, including SH 90, SH 67, FM 170 (the river road) and SH 118. The trip included stops in Langtry at Judge Roy Bean's Saloon, Marathon, Marfa, Shafter Ghost Town, Presidio, Terlingua, Study Butte, Chisos Basin, Santa Elena Canyon, Alpine, McDonald's Observatory, Davis Mountain Loop and Fort Davis.

Day 1: 420 Miles From Austin head South to San Antonio (90 miles).

  • Go 410W to SH 90 West thru Del Rio to Marathon (330 miles).
  • Gas Stops: Uvalde (84 miles); lunch in Del Rio (70 miles); top off tank at Langtry (60) with quick visit to the Judge Roy Bean Saloon. Great view on right before exit.
  • Continue to Sanderson (61 miles) and on to Marathon (53 miles).
  • In Marathon, stay the night at the Gage Hotel, have dinner and relax!!
Day 2: 190 – 250 Miles   (Santa Elena Canyon, Terlingua Ghost Town, La Kiva Bar, ChisosMountainBasin)
  • Head South on SH 385 for 68 miles to Big Bend Park Entrance, then Panther Junction. Gas up at Panther Junction Visitor’s Center. Get maps, information on condition, roads to Santa Elena Canyon, Chisos Basin Lodge.  
  • At T intersection (SH 385 @ SH 118), go west on SH 118 toward Study Butte 13 miles to Santa Elena Junction; take left for 30 miles to Castolon/Santa Elena Canyon. Stop at Mule Ear Viewpoint. Eat lunch at the store in Castolon.
  • Backtrack on Santa Elena Canyon Road to SH 118; take right back toward Panther Junction for about 10 miles to the Chisos Basin Lodge Road. Take right for 6 miles to Chisos Basin Lodge. Check in and dump gear. 
  • Backtrack on Lodge road to SH 118; go west for 17 miles to Study Butte; take left on FM 170 for 6 miles to Terlingua Ghost Town. Eat dinner at Starlight Theatre. Backtrack on FM 170 toward Study Butte a couple of miles to the famous La Kiva Bar. It’s easy to miss. You passed it on the left going to the Ghost Town. (Look for large Big Bend RV Park sign). 
  • Backtrack 27 miles on FM 170/SH 118 back to Chisos Basin Lodge.
Day 3: 190 - 250 Miles (River Road to Presidio; McDonald’s Observatory: DavisMountainsLoop; Marfa)
  • From Lodge, travel back to Study Butte/Terlingua Ghost Town and eat Breakfast at Tracy’s Café.
  • Continue on FM 170 (the River Road) thru Terlingua and Lijitas to Presidio for 67 miles. Allow for several picture stops along FM 170. (Rated a top ten Biker Road in U.S.)
  • About 18 miles (Lajitas), look for Teepee Rest stop; next is Steep Hill with Pull Over Viewing Area at Summit (about 5 miles out of Lajitas); then Western Movie Set on left (Contrabando Creek).  
  • At Presidio (Gas Stop), turn right on SH 67 to Marfa for 60 miles.
  • In Marfa, visit Paisano Hotel, then continue on SH 17 to Ft. Davis for 21 miles.
  • In Ft. Davis, check in Limpia Hotel and Gas up. Make reservations for a late dinner; then head to McDonald’s Observatory.
  • From Ft. Davis, turn left on SH 118 for 16 miles to visit McDonald Observatory (Check out the two roads to the telescopes).
  • Next up is the Davis Mountains Loop. Continue past the Observatory on SH 118 for 15 more miles. Take left on SH 166 for a 65 mile loop thru mountains back to SH 17; left on SH 17 back to Ft. Davis.
  • Return to Ft. Davis for dinner (Limpia Hotel recommended).
  • Evening option: crash at the Limpia Hotel Bar (what we did); or, travel 21 miles to Marfa, then 8 miles east on SH 90 to view the Marfa lights.
Day 4: Iron Butt Ride Home– 460 Miles
  • In Ft. Davis, turn left on SH 118 to IH 10 for 52 miles. (Top Rated Biking Road).
  • Turn on IH 10 East for 83 miles to Ft. Stockton.
  • Continue on IH 10 for 35 miles to SH 190 (Iraan exit). Continue on SH 190 14 miles to Iraan; 79 Miles to Eldorado; 51 miles to Menard.
  • In Menard, take SH 83/SH 29 for 38 miles to Mason; continue on SH 29 for 34 miles to Llano.
  • Eat late lunch at the famous Coopers Barbecue in Llano; then take SH 71 for 74 miles back to Austin.


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