Castolon-Santa Elena Canyon Ride + ADD NEW ROUTE
- Trip Toolbox
In Big Bend National Park, begin at the intersection of 118 and Costolon/Santa Elena Canyon. Head south on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. The road ends at the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook and Trial unless you want to take the gravel Old Maverick Road back to Maverick Junction to make a loop.
You will see weeping vistas of semi arid dessert, mountains and cliffs, rock formations of a variety of rock types, and at the end the incredible cliffs that physically divide the U.S. from Mexico. No fence is needed. The forces of the universe make crossing nearly impossible. Yet, you can hike into the Santa Elena Canyon (in Mexico) if the Rio Grande is not running which it wasn't when I was there (April, 2012). Words are inadequate to describe Big Bend. Beautiful is not a word I'd use. Sublime is a better.
The road is a well maintained park road with many historical and geographic markers. It twists and turns with a few switchbacks and tight turns. The downer for some may be the speed limit of 45 and that the Park Service monitors speed. I made a friend who got a ticket. You may be able to go 52 safely which I did a lot. It's hard to keep it down in such open space and my V-Strom was impatient at being held back.
I guess this depends on the meaning of amenities. There are numerous hiking trails and off road rides one can take. There is no gas available so you need to gas up before entering the park. There is only one gas depot in the park which is near Panther Junction. Near the end of the road, there is a park store and visitors center. Various drinks and snacks are available as are restrooms and picnic tables in shaded areas. At the end there is a nice picnic area with some shade trees. I was able to park my bike in an unofficial space under a tree. It was 100 so I was grateful. There are numerous places to pull off and overlook parks. All are worth considering.
It is hard for me to believe this route has not been posted before. It is a fun ride and delightful, perhaps it will be more so on a cooler day. Some historic places include the Sam Neil Ranch and the Homer Wilson Ranch. Formations of note are the Chimneys and the Mule Ears.
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