Big Bend Ranch Visitor Center Named for Bob Armstrong

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PRESIDIO – The man who proved instrumental in helping the State of Texas secure a 212,000-acre West Texas ranch 25 years ago that doubled the size of the Texas State Park System overnight was honored recently at the Big Bend Ranch State Park headquarters.

Honoree Bob Armstrong, his friends and family, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department representatives gathered earlier this month at the Sauceda Ranger Station in the ranch’s interior for the renaming of the Visitor Center after the former Texas legislator and land commission, and the unveiling of a bas relief highlighting his contributions.

The 81-year-old Texan fell in love with the ruggedly beautiful ranchland in 1970 while on a hunting trip and spent the next 18 years as a Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioner to purchase the property for a state park. In 1988, then TPWD land acquisitions chief Andrew Sansom negotiated the deal with ranch owner and oilman Robert Anderson to purchase the property for $8.8 million. Sansom went on to serve as Texas Parks and Wildlife director.

Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas’ largest state park, now encompasses more than 300,000 acres of scenic Chihuahuan Desert landscape that is blessed with abundant springs and other water features, a collapsed volcano, mountains and miles of Rio Grande frontage.

Visitors can hike, mountain-bike, backpack, paddle, ride horses or explore the park by vehicle (the park has two- and four-wheel-drive roads). The park offers 238 miles of multiuse trails and 70 miles of unmaintained dirt roads accessible to only high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. The Rio Grande area offers great day-use access. Visitors can float, fish and hike, or drive the scenic Camino del Rio (FM 170).

Primitive camping is available at vehicle-accessible, backcountry or equestrian sites. Lodging also is available at the Sauceda Ranch House and Sauceda Bunkhouse that are accessible by driving 27-miles of rugged, dirt road. Entry fees for persons 13 and older range from $3 to $5 a day.

For more information about Big Bend Ranch, call (432) 358-4444. To view Visitor Center images, visit: