You can pursue a wide variety of activities at this park, including:
- Ranger Tours
- Hiking and Mountain Biking
- Horseback Riding
- 4X4 Touring
- River Access
- Nature Viewing
Check our Events page for scheduled tours and programs. Call the park at least seven days before your visit to book one of the tours listed below. Tour times depend on park interpreter availability.
Hiking and Interpretive Tours: Park rangers will introduce you to the unique Chihuahuan Desert plants and animals and the history and geology of the area. Along the way, you will take in some beautiful park vistas. These one- to three-hour tours are free.
Mountain-Biking Tour: Discover some of the most rugged mountain-biking country in west Texas on this free one- to four-hour guided ride. Bring your own bike or rent one from a local outfitter.
4x4 Tour of Archeology, Geology and Nature: This 4x4 road adventure can be tailored to your interests. A ranger will take you to remote and scenic areas of the park. This tour (in our Suburban) can accommodate up to six people and costs $150.
Trails provide the easiest access to many areas of Big Bend Ranch State Park. Our trails showcase nature, history and dramatic scenery, while capturing the spirit of this land. People of all ages, abilities and interests can find suitable trails.
Many trails are available for hiking, mountain-biking and horseback riding. Some trails are only for hiking because of rough terrain. Park maps show both routes and trails; routes are not suitable for bikes and horses.
Most hiking trails are primitive, with rock cairns and few signs. Experienced hikers can explore cross country. Always use a map when hiking at Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Two short trails near the Sauceda Ranger Station offer differing views of the park. The one-mile Ojito Adentro Trail crosses desert scrub into an oasis-like area with great wildlife viewing. The ¾-mile Cinco Tinajas Trail offers views into a deep canyon with a series of tinajas, or rock pools that hold water after rains. Other trailheads lie along FM 170.
The Puerta Chilicote Trailhead (see Fresno West Rim map) provides access to a system of trails in the wild and rugged areas of the Bofecillos Highlands and Fresno Canyon. Visitors can reach the trailhead in a two-wheel-drive car. From the trailhead:
- A five-mile (there and back) trail accesses the west rim of Fresno Canyon. Hikers will enjoy great views of Fresno Canyon and the Solitario “flatirons.”
- The 3.2-mile Cerro Chilicote Loop Trail makes a great day hike.
- More adventurous hikers can explore a series of connecting trails and loops dropping into Fresno Canyon, Arroyo Primero and lower Arroyo de los Mexicanos.
Are you interested in the park’s magnificent geology and capable of a strenuous self-guided day hike with some canyoneering? Then try this hike: In and Out of Time: Geologic Hike of Los Portales Shutup and the Righthand Shutup, El Solitario. Pick up the brochure and map at the Sauceda Ranger Station. Due to the rugged nature of the route, which includes a 750’ elevation gain/loss, a backcountry permit is required. You will need a 4WD high-clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead in Fresno Canyon.
Refer to park maps or speak to a ranger when choosing a trail for your activity. Always carry a map when hiking and biking in the park. For information on guided hike or bike trips, see the Ranger Tours section above or visit the Outfitters page.
Carry plenty of water and wear appropriate protective clothing. When biking, always wear a helmet and carry two spare tubes. Most importantly, have fun!
Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest: Mountain bikers descend on the park in February for this annual bike fest. Staff members lead three days of guided trail rides. In 2014, over 470 riders participated. The park’s Fresno-Sauceda Loop has been designated an “Epic” ride by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The 54-mile loop ride is the only Epic ride in Texas, and one of two in the southwestern United States.
For more information on hiking and biking at Big Bend Ranch State Park:
- Big Bend Ranch Biking Guide
- Contrabando Multiuse Trail System brochure
- Cinco Tinajas Trail and Leyva Escondido Loop Trail (PDF)
- Sauceda Nature Trail (PDF)
- Encino Trail (PDF)
- Horsetrap Trail (PDF)
- Exploration Map of Bofecillos Highlands and Cienega & Alamito Lowlands
- Exploration Map of Fresno Canyon
- Topographic Map of Fresno West Rim
- Walking Guide to the Sauceda Historic District
- Article on the Fresno-Sauceda Loop, designated an “Epic” ride by the International Mountain Bicycling Association
- “Mountain Biking Dream Ride at Big Bend Ranch", November 2009 issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife
- TPWD You Tube video: Mountain Biking Big Bend Ranch State Park
Exploring Big Bend Ranch State Park on horseback is a true “wild west” experience. Horses can be ridden in most areas of the park. Mules are allowed, also. Some campsites have pens. Agua Adentro Pens is the best base for a horseback trip.
Visitors with high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles can tackle nearly 70 miles of unmaintained dirt roads in the park. These roads were used for fence building, water line construction, livestock wrangling and mineral prospecting and mining. Download the Roads to Nowhere guide for detailed 4x4 drive descriptions.
For a day trip, visit the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo corridor to raft, canoe, picnic and fish. Several access points lie along FM 170. Colorado Canyon includes Class II and III rapids. This section of the river is not dangerous except during floods.
Raft trips can be arranged through local outfitters.
Most visitors come to the park for the scenery. Exposed geology is part of the scenery here in Big Bend country. Geology ultimately determines where and how the region’s plants, animals and humans live. As you soak up the dramatic scenery, remember that you are looking far back into geologic time. To learn more, visit the Nature page.
Birding: More than 300 bird species live in the park’s various Chihuahuan Desert habitats: grasslands, desert scrub, canyons, and riparian woodlands and thickets.
- For more information on birding in the park, visit the Bird-watching section of our Nature page.
- Birds of Big Bend Ranch State Park and Vicinity
Far West Texas offers some of the darkest skies in the continental United States. The park offers occasional stargazing programs.
- Check the Events page for upcoming programs.