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Big Bend River Road Four Wheel Drive Trail Trip
Big Bend National Park Covers Over 800,000 Acres. The River Road Four Wheel Drive Transverses The Southern End
Along the southern border of Big Bend National Park in West Texas lies the four wheel drive trail known as the River Road. It is roughly 51 miles long and crosses some very rough country. Four wheel drive vehicles should have high clearance since the road is often washed out in places. The trail crosses gullies and washes as well as mud holes when seasonal rains come.
It is one of the most remote spots in the United States and will be a rewarding journey for those who love solitude. You'll find old abandoned mines and see vast expanses of scenic desert untouched by man. The high Chisos mountains to the north and the mountains in Mexico frame the course of the River Road which follows the Rio Grande River.
You can begin your trip on the river road either by starting on the east side or west. On the west side of the River Road you begin by heading south off the main park road that leads from Panther Junction to Boquillas Canyon. You will first need to check in at the park headquarters at Panther Junction and obtain a camping permit.
The first campsites you can access off of the Big Bend river road four wheel drive trail are the Gravel Pit and La Clocha. This end of the trail is usually in fairly good shape and sees a fair bit of traffic. Farther along the River Road you will find more isolated campsites where you are less likely to see many visitors. Campsites like Talley, Gauging Station, Black Dike and Jewel's Camp offer an experience in solitude much of the year. You may see a variety of wildlife along the River Road in Big Bend, including mule deer, jackrabbits, armadillos, coyotes and even beaver at campsite such as Black Dike. The Rio Grande teems with catfish, though consumption is not recommended. Fishing permits are available at the park headquarter in Panther Junction.
Precautions For Driving The River Road Four Wheel Drive Trail In Big Bend
The River Road In Big Bend National Park Offers Splendid Isolation, But Be Prepared.
Only experienced four wheel drive enthusiasts should travel the River Road. Be sure and take extra gas, water (at least a gallon per person per day, more is recommended), spare tires, first aid, sunscreen and hats, and extra food. There is no cell phone coverage along the river road. You won't even find any English language stations on FM or AM radio.
If you are stranded on the four wheel drive trail do not attempt to take a short cut across the desert on foot. Take as much water as you can carry and follow the trail toward the end that is closest. Beware of rattlesnakes, scorpions and plants with thorns. Park rangers patrol the Big Bend River Road on an irregular schedule.
Be cautious when camping along some of the more isolated spots. Don't leave your vehicle unattended or valuables in plain sight. There have been numerous report of items being stolen by thieves who cross the shallow Rio Grande.
It is illegal to cross the river, which is the border between Texas and Mexico. In the past border crossings to Boquillas were permitted but they have been prohibited since just after 9-11. It is illegal to purchase items from vendors who frequently cross the border illegally. It typically takes all day to travel the river road. Going is especially slow along the western end past Black Dike to Cerro Castolon since the trail is very rocky in that area.
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