Bend Region - Rio Grande River Road

Average Rating - This road has been rated by 11 visitors

State: Texas
Date Submitted: August 1, 2005
Submitted by: Williebill
Motorcycle Road Length: 150 Miles

Written Directions

Start in Alpine TX and head south on 118 till you get to Study Butte TX where you need to go west on Farm to Market 170 road. Take that to Presidio TX where you need to get on US 67 and head north all the way up to Ft Davis.


During the April-May time each year, this is the best Bluebonnet viewing and picture taking area in all of Texas. It is a very quiet country farm road with plenty of places to stop and take pictures. Take your time and enjoy the country. This is a good cruiser route with plenty of gas stops along the way.

Road Quality  

This road is a very well maintained Farm to Market system with plenty of twists, turns, hills and flat straight-aways.

Roadside Amenities  

Good accommodations in Alpine, TX with several motels, etc. This is a college town. Study Butte has the Big Bend Motel and Mission Lodge and you can also stay within the National Park at the Chisos Mountain Lodge. Just don't venture too far during your travels without supplies and a full gas tank. At Contrabando, TX along the road to Presidio you can pull off and enjoy a permanent movie set that is still used for movies and commercials. There is also an old mission just outside of Presidio that you can visit. There are several pull-offs and you should just to breathe in the silence and isolation. This is also "open range" territory meaning that you may find livestock meandering on the road at odd intervals. Presidio has some accommodations also, but you might want to go up Route 67 out of Presidio towards Ft Davis and visit the sights there. Rt. 67 goes through Marfa, TX and Shafter, TX (a ghost town).

Additional Info

- View the weather forecast for this area from Yahoo weather .

Nickname (optional) Williebill



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Reviewed by Guest on December 6, 2010
(5 out of 5 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Jim
Comment: Nice write up, but your map is incorrect. The road from Study Butte to Presidio is labeled at 117, it should be 170. I was there 12/4/2010 and have a few tips. Once away from the bigger towns of Alpine and Marfa ... gas is available in Study Butte and Presidio. Plan accordingly. There is a bank with an ATM in Study Butte. Bring cash, this area hasn't quite caught up with the digital age. Be sure to visit the Study Butte store, its a step back in time. And they have premium gas for those who need it. The Starlight Theatre in Terlingua doesn't open until 5pm. The ghost town cafe in Terlingua serves up a decent burger. Presidio is a bigger town than I expected. Plenty of services and 24 hour gas.
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Reviewed by Guest on May 17, 2010
(3 out of 3 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Jim Marsh
motorcycle_year: 2007
motorcycle_make: Yamaha
motorcycle_type: Cruiser
Comment: Spend a night at the motorcycle-friendly Prude Guest Ranch just outside of Ft. Davis, have dinner at the Black Bear Lodge in the Ft. Davis State Park almost across the road from the ranch before going up to McDonald Observatory for a tour of the night skies using a number of telescopes on Tuesday & Saturday evenings. When touring the old fort at Ft. Davis, be sure to sit on the porch of the Commander's House during the fort-wide presentation of "Retreat". I would suggest you NOT go into Ojinaga Mexico- you might come back without a motorcycle unless you want to pay a substantial bribe to the border guards (theirs, not ours). The ride up "Panther Hill" between Terlingua (site of the World Chili Cookoff) and Presidio is a sight you'll never forget. Terlingua was at one time the largest cinnibar mine in the country (that's the ore they get mercury from). The ghost town of Shafter is worth a stop - at one time it was "The richest hole in the world", a huge silver mine going over a thousand feet deep. Visit the cemetery there where there are hundreds of miners buried, and a great historical montage. A very historical town. Overall, an unbelievably good ride that I've made many times. HINT: Take at least three times the water you think you'll need! YOU'RE IN THE VERY HOT DESERT!!!! General rule: If you're not urinating frequently, you're not drinking enough fluids. I lived there for years - believe it! Drink a lot of water.
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Reviewed by Weestrom Rider on September 8, 2011
(2 out of 3 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Weestrom Rider
motorcycle_year: 2007
motorcycle_make: Suzuki
motorcycle_type: Sport-Touring
Comment: Highway 118 out of Big Bend NP was one of the single best rides this summer during a 6200 mile trip. The road has a 75 mph speed limit outside of the NP and almost no traffic. It is characterized by a mix of long, open stretches and curves that tighten down as low as 20 mph max safe as it winds around and over mesas. It was a sport-tourer's dream to dive into these curves at 75-80 mph while not violating the law. Of course, the scenery was dramatic and worth the ride alone. The only minor inconvenience was having to stop at an immigration checkpoint. Again though, with no traffic, we had the opportunity to shoot the breeze for a bit with Border Patrol before moving on. Great ride!
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Reviewed by Guest on October 3, 2009
(2 out of 2 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Hacksaw
motorcycle_year: 2007
motorcycle_make: Harley-Davidson
motorcycle_type: Touring
Comment: This route is great from scenery alone. The roads are pretty good too. While in the Fort Davis area be sure to visit the Mcdonald Observatory 16 miles north of Fort Daivs. A great side trip that's worth the time.
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Reviewed by Guest on January 25, 2009
(2 out of 2 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Kenneth Williams
motorcycle_year: 2001
motorcycle_make: Kawasaki
motorcycle_type: Cruiser
Comment: This really is a great ride including staying in the park, camping out under the stars. Also you can ride to Van Horn and turn North to Carlsbad Caverns to make it an even greater journey
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Reviewed by Guest on August 1, 2009
(1 out of 1 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Vstar
motorcycle_year: 2007
motorcycle_make: Yamaha
motorcycle_type: Cruiser
Comment: This route is gorgeous. If you start in alpine and are looking for a hotel try the Holland Hotel in downtown Alpine. You can't miss it. They have really clean nice rooms, great people that work there, you get discounts at restaurants and other places in alpine, and they have probably the cheapest rates in alpine without giving up the quality of the rooms. They also are pet friendly, which is rare out here. It's also a historic hotel, so it has a lot of history that any of the workers can tell you about. If you need a stop in Terilingua go to the Terilingua Ghosttown and there is a little restaurant called the starlight theater. On weekends they have live music or comedy or skits going on while you enjoy a nice meal. There's also a hotel next to it (although you wouldn't know it was one) that is gorgeous. Rooms are great, and priced well. Go to the convience store next to the startlight theater and talk to the people there about the rooms. And when you wake up and walk outside the first time you'll marvel at the view (it sits on top of a hill there, you can see for miles!) After that take the rest of the route through to presidio and stop at El Patio for some good mexican food. The scenery on that route is amazing. There are even places that you can pull into the river and stand on land sticking out of it, depending on the tide. It's by far the best place to go riding. But once you leave terilingua you better make sure you have a full gas tank because there isn't anything between there and presidio.b I After that take your trip to fort davis and enjoy the McDonalds observatory there. After that go where ever you want, that's where I ended my trip when I took it!
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Reviewed by Guest on December 31, 2007
(1 out of 1 members found this review useful.)
Creator: TOM
motorcycle_year: 2006
motorcycle_make: Harley-Davidson
motorcycle_type: Touring
Comment: 118 is the best ride i've ever been on
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Reviewed by 75220CL on October 16, 2015
(0 out of 0 members found this review useful.)
Creator: 75220CL
motorcycle_year: 2013
motorcycle_make: Suzuki C90T BOSS
motorcycle_type: Cruiser
Comment: Just got back from a round trip ride from Dallas to Big Bend area. Incredible scenery, I'm a native Texan and never thought anyplace in Texas could be this stunning.

The ride on FM 170 from Terlingua/Lajitas to Presidio hugging the Rio Grande was the absolute highlight of the trip. This road has everything - scenic beauty, hills, curves, hills with curves, straightaways, and scenic turnoffs.

We only saw 2 other people on the road - one motorcyclist and one car coming the other direction. This is remote, so if anything breaks down - you're going to wait.

Do watch out for animals - we say javelinas and wild turkeys on the roadway. Also, there are low water crossings, so if it's been raining recently, there is probably gravel washed across the road.

Be careful and enjoy this ride, it's great!
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Reviewed by FJRFreak on March 16, 2015
(0 out of 0 members found this review useful.)
Creator: FJRFreak
motorcycle_year: 2007
motorcycle_make: Yamaha FJR1300
motorcycle_type: Sport-Touring
Comment: Did this ride just last week and I gave it 5 stars but I'd like to put an asterisk on that. The drive from Presidio to Lajitas along 170 is one of the prettiest, most fun roads I have ever been down anywhere. That section of road should be rated at a 7 or 8.
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Reviewed by trump rider on February 22, 2014
(0 out of 0 members found this review useful.)
Creator: Trump Rider
motorcycle_year: 2012
motorcycle_make: Triumph t-bird storm
motorcycle_type: Cruiser
Comment: I give this part of my trip a rating of 4,but the scenery is a 5.
I actually did this route backwards, started in Alpine went to Ft Davis then south thru Marfa to Presidio.All of those roads where in very good shape,little traffic and wonderful scenery.
The river road it seems got washed out in places awhile back.They have done a good job of patching but i found lots of loose gravel on the road and in the curves so I made sure to keep my speed down to 45/50 mph..
Had a late lunch in Terlingua which is a really cool place,then it was up 118 back to Alpine..HWY 118 is a very cool road good pavement and road one can open the throttle and blow out cobwebs
Still a most wonderful and epic trip for me and I would recommend it to anyone.
This all took place on Feb 14 2014 and the weather was great,highs in the mid 80s and lows in the 50s
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Reviewed by Guest on December 20, 2013
(0 out of 1 members found this review useful.)
Creator: rod
motorcycle_year: 1995
motorcycle_make: fzr600
motorcycle_type: Sport
Comment: I feel a bit odd writing this review because I didn't actually visit this area on my cycle. I came to the Big Bend to go river rafting. That river road was breathtaking however. Few people make it this far south because the Big Bend isn't really close to any major population centers. I've heard that the Big Bend National Park is one of the least visited in the nation. That's a real shame. There's a shockingly austere natural beauty here that you won't find anywhere else. You'll need a geologist to explain all the different colors on the landscape. By the way, the river rafting was well worth the trip even though the Rio Grande water level wasn't much above a trickle. Spectacular cliff walls that I'll never forget. We camped on the Mexican side overnight if you can believe that!

In my opinion, this is the most scenic motorcycling area of Texas. You should not pass up the chance to visit here if you can.
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