A 51-mile rough dirt and gravel road through the wild Big Bend backcountry along the Rio Grande, past old mines, ranch sites, and rugged desert. This drive crosses a large swath of remote and empty but beautiful desert on the south side of the park. Here and there the drive passes signs of human activities— an old mine complex, abandoned ranches, cemeteries—but overall, there are few signs of humanity along the drive. Although the route is called the River Road and roughly parallels the Rio Grande, most of the time it lies well back from the river. A number of short spur roads provide access to the Rio Grande in many locations.
Unlike the other drives in this book, this route follows dirt roads along its entire length. A high-clearance vehicle is necessary and sometimes, especially during and after a rain, four-wheel drive is required. If the road has been recently graded, it can be quite easy. Nearby Attractions: Other Big Bend National Park sites such as the Chisos Mountains, Santa Elena Canyon, and Boquillas Canyon; Big Bend Ranch State Park; and ghost town of Terlingua.
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