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Big Bend National Park


Scenic Drives in Big Bend National Park

Paved Roads

Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction

28 miles (45km)
This road connects the north entrance of the park to park headquarters at Panther Junction. From Persimmon Gap the road descends a long, gentle, gravel slope to Tornillo creek and the Tornillo Flat. The Rosillos Mountains rise to the west, and to the east the Dead Horse Mountains dominat the skyline. Highlights include the trailhead to Dog Canyon and Devil's Den, the Fossil Bone Exhibit area, and hoodoos located along the Tornillo Flat.

Panther Junction nach Rio Grande Village

21 miles (34km)
From Panther Junction you can head southeast toward the Rio Grande and Boquillas Canyon. In twenty miles, the road descends nearly two thousand feet. Along the way are the Dugout Wells picnic area and nature trail, the Hot Springs Historic District, and the Rio Grande Village developed area. Boquillas Canyon is the longest of the canyons of the Rio Grande within the park.

Maverick Entrance Station nach Panther Junction

23 miles (37km)
This drive in entirely confined to desert scenery with excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Numerous roadside exhibits explore the wildife that might be seen along the drive. Junctions for the Chisos Basin road and the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive are located along this route.

Chisos Basin Road

6 miles (10km)
This road climbs five miles up Green Gulch and then drops into the Chisos Basin. The grade of the road is deceiving, being as much as 10% in places. This road was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and provides breathtaking views as you rise out of the desert and into the mountains.
Caution: The road to the Basin is not recommended for trailers longer than 20 feet and RVs over 24 feet because of sharp curves and steep grades.

According to legend, a lost Spanish mine is located in the Chisos Mountains. The Conquistadors used the Presidio de San Vicente as a prison and from there worked a mine in the area. The guards blindfolded the captive Indians and marched them from the Presidio to the mine, supposedly in the Chisos.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive (to Castolon and Santa Elena Canyon)

30 miles (48km)
This road starts along the eastern edge of Burro Mesa, skirts the western flanks of the Chisos Mountains, and descends to the floodplain of the Rio Grande. Spectacular historic and geologic features are some of the highlights of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
The eight-mile road section from Castolon to Santa Elena Canyon is subject to flooding during late summer rains, and can be closed on occasion. (Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive)

Park Info, Visitor Center, etc.

Data & Facts

Paved Roads: The Chison Basin Road goes up to nearly 6,000 ft (1.800 m).
Warning Sign: Bears and Mountain Lions - - Paved Roads: The Chison Basin Road goes up to nearly 6,000 ft (1.800 m).

Improved Dirt Roads: Paint Gap Road requires a higher clearance behind the PG-3 Campsite
Improved Dirt Roads: Paint Gap Road requires a higher clearance behind the PG-3 Campsite

Offroad: River Road - a whole day experience.
Offroad: River Road - a whole day experience.



GPS Coordinates

1 -- Panther Junction, Big Bend National Park
Decimal Lat: 29.328265 / Lon: -103.205577

2 -- Old Ore Road, North
Decimal Lat: 29.487714 / Lon: -103.098042

3 -- Old Ore Road, South
Decimal Lat: 29.202203 / Lon: -102.988061


Document Information
Source: National Park Service; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20080908
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