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Riding the Big Bend in Winter

If you are looking for a winter motorcycling destination you could do worse than to consider the Big Bend of the Rio Grande in far west Texas. Comprised of Jeff Davis, Brewster, and Presidio counties the Big Bend country offers spectacular vistas of southwestern desert and mountains threaded by some of the best motorcycling roads in the country, connecting charming, colorful small towns and enormous national and state parks.

From November through March the area enjoys a sunny southwestern climate with daytime temperatures typically ranging in the 40s to 70s F. and often warmer in the low desert along the Rio Grande. Nights are cold, especially in the higher elevations. Rain is rare during the winter months although rain and even snow may occur when an Arctic cold front moves through. This seldom lasts more than a day or two, but check the forecast when making your plans.

The crown jewels of the region are Big Bend National Park on the Mexican border in the far south and Big Bend Ranch State Park to the west. Davis Mountains State Park, McDonald Astronomical Observatory, and Fort Davis National Historic Site are in Jeff Davis County to the north. These offer camping, hiking, back-road touring for street-licensed vehicles, as well as historical and natural history exhibits and museums.

Small towns with services and tourist facilities include Fort Davis, Marathon, the Study Butte/Terlingua/Lajitas micro-plex, Presidio, Marfa, and Alpine. Alpine, home of Sul Ross State University, is the largest at 10,000 population. All offer good restaurants, art galleries, museums, shopping, and drinking establishments packed with local color. All of these towns are used to touring motorcyclists and are biker-friendly.

March is a busy month with many visiting the area during the schools’ Spring Break, so reservations at the parks and motels are a good idea if you’re visiting then.

If I can answer any questions about the Big Bend for you please feel free to ask.

--- Randall
 

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Riding the Big Bend in Winter

If you are looking for a winter motorcycling destination you could do worse than to consider the Big Bend of the Rio Grande in far west Texas. Comprised of Jeff Davis, Brewster, and Presidio counties the Big Bend country offers spectacular vistas of southwestern desert and mountains threaded by some of the best motorcycling roads in the country, connecting charming, colorful small towns and enormous national and state parks.

From November through March the area enjoys a sunny southwestern climate with daytime temperatures typically ranging in the 40s to 70s F. and often warmer in the low desert along the Rio Grande. Nights are cold, especially in the higher elevations. Rain is rare during the winter months although rain and even snow may occur when an Arctic cold front moves through. This seldom lasts more than a day or two, but check the forecast when making your plans.

The crown jewels of the region are Big Bend National Park on the Mexican border in the far south and Big Bend Ranch State Park to the west. Davis Mountains State Park, McDonald Astronomical Observatory, and Fort Davis National Historic Site are in Jeff Davis County to the north. These offer camping, hiking, back-road touring for street-licensed vehicles, as well as historical and natural history exhibits and museums.

Small towns with services and tourist facilities include Fort Davis, Marathon, the Study Butte/Terlingua/Lajitas micro-plex, Presidio, Marfa, and Alpine. Alpine, home of Sul Ross State University, is the largest at 10,000 population. All offer good restaurants, art galleries, museums, shopping, and drinking establishments packed with local color. All of these towns are used to touring motorcyclists and are biker-friendly.

March is a busy month with many visiting the area during the schools’ Spring Break, so reservations at the parks and motels are a good idea if you’re visiting then.

If I can answer any questions about the Big Bend for you please feel free to ask.

--- Randall
Retirement sounds good. Texas, maybe the Dragon and even Sturgis is on my radar. Canada is cold in the winter. South sounds great.
 

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Sounds nice, I highly recommend the dragon or that region of tennessee. Alot of good roads through the mountains besides the dragon, but it is a must do ride if your ever close. Mid sept to early oct when the trees change or early spring time is best....
 

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As far as Big Bend goes, be prepared for all kinds of weather. Last Spring I was there and it was 99 degrees on Sat and 26 degrees on Sunday while going home, thank God I had my electric vest etc.
 

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I concur. The road from Terlingua to Presidio is alsome. The views are like none other. The temperatures can swing drastically within hours. I also suggest "Ride Texas" publication that comes out every other month. It features a lot of great roads all over TX, AR, LA, and NM.
 

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Big Bend area, Is it safe riding down there that close to the border??
If by that you mean, are you likely to be attacked by drug smugglers or Mexican banditos, why no, its safe enough. You are a lot more likely to be mugged in any large city. I used to motorcycle down into Mexico, a beautiful country, and never had any problems, but have not done so for the last decade or so due to the lawlessness that exists in much of the country. In many parts of Mexico there is no real difference between the narcos and law enforcement, they are all in bed together. That being the case I don't go to Mexico much anymore and I can't recommend that you do.

As I said, the Big Bend on the Texas side is safer than your average large city. The main dangers revolve around the fact that you are in a very remote, rugged, and sparsely populated region; if anything goes wrong it may be awhile before help arrives. Cell phone service is spotty. Traffic is very light with the main hazard being animals in the road; I don't ride after dark if I can avoid it. Riders should keep their speed down on twisty mountain roads, as if you leave the road, things are going to go bad quickly. The only hospital is in Alpine and it doesn't do much more than offer emergency room services and deliver babies.

Like many Texans I routinely go armed. It is legal to carry a firearm with a concealed handgun license or if you are in/on your vehicle. Texas law holds that your vehicle is part of your premises and you have the same right to possess a firearm there that you do in your home. That said, its best not to take it out and wave it around without due cause, and even with a CHL there are restrictions on where you may carry, for example, its illegal to carry inside establishments that derive more than 51% of their income from alcohol sales and have a sign to that effect posted.

--- Randall
 

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If by that you mean, are you likely to be attacked by drug smugglers or Mexican banditos, why no, its safe enough. You are a lot more likely to be mugged in any large city. I used to motorcycle down into Mexico, a beautiful country, and never had any problems, but have not done so for the last decade or so due to the lawlessness that exists in much of the country. In many parts of Mexico there is no real difference between the narcos and law enforcement, they are all in bed together. That being the case I don't go to Mexico much anymore and I can't recommend that you do.

As I said, the Big Bend on the Texas side is safer than your average large city. The main dangers revolve around the fact that you are in a very remote, rugged, and sparsely populated region; if anything goes wrong it may be awhile before help arrives. Cell phone service is spotty. Traffic is very light with the main hazard being animals in the road; I don't ride after dark if I can avoid it. Riders should keep their speed down on twisty mountain roads, as if you leave the road, things are going to go bad quickly. The only hospital is in Alpine and it doesn't do much more than offer emergency room services and deliver babies.

Like many Texans I routinely go armed. It is legal to carry a firearm with a concealed handgun license or if you are in/on your vehicle. Texas law holds that your vehicle is part of your premises and you have the same right to possess a firearm there that you do in your home. That said, its best not to take it out and wave it around without due cause, and even with a CHL there are restrictions on where you may carry, for example, its illegal to carry inside establishments that derive more than 51% of their income from alcohol sales and have a sign to that effect posted.

--- Randall
Learn something every day.
 

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Thanks Randall, I've always wanted to ride the Big Bend area. Sounds like we need to put that ride in our bucket list. We've ridden in 43 states, need to mark Texas, New Mexico and Arizona off our list..
 

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Gotta agree with TxMotorMike, the river road is a great ride. Lots of twisties and beautiful scenery.

Made that run a few years back. Started at Alpine, rode down to Presidio, down the river road to Terlingua and lunch at the Study Butte Store, then a long straight shot back to Alpine.

Been wanting to do it again!

-Shad-
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
... been wanting to do it again!
-Shad-
Come on down! Even in the summertime the Big Bend is a great place to ride. Although temperatures may get into the triple digits in the low desert along the Rio Grande, the higher elevations around Alpine, Marfa, and Fort Davis have some of the coolest summer temperatures in the state, and the low humidity takes much of the sting out of the heat. Even in the lower Big Bend afternoon thunderstorms may drop the temperatures by thirty degrees in a matter of minutes, and the evenings are almost always cool and breezy. It IS important to stay hydrated, which may explain why Brewster and Presidio counties have some of the highest per-capita beer consumption in Texas.
--- Randall
 
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