These are maintained roads where a high clearance 2WD vehicle is able to travel safely at low speeds on long dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. All primitve dirt roads may be rocky with areas or soft gravel or sand that makes travel unsafe for sedans or RVs.
Some road sections may require a high clearance 4WD vehicle, in four-wheel-drive, driven by a driver experienced in 4WD drive techniques to drive the road without getting stuck.
As always, road conditions are highly dependent on weather; rains often make these roads more difficult to pass.
26 miles (43km)
Used in the early Twentieth Century to transport ore from Mexican mines to the railroad station at Marathon, the Old Ore Road generally follows the route of used by mule and pack trains a century ago. The road provides excellent views of the Chisos Mountains across the Tornillo Creek drainage to the west. The Ernst Tinaja, located approximately five miles from the southern end of the road, is a popular destination.
Passing through the foothills of the Dead Horse Mountains, the Old Ore Road usually requires a high-clearance vehicle; four-wheel drive is strongly recommended due to some rugged terrain.
16 miles (26km)
The Glenn Springs Road skirts the east side of the Chisos Mountains, then bounces over the southwest flank of Chilicotal Mountain to the site of the Glenn Springs community. As the road descends from Glenn Springs to the River Road, it generally becomes smoother.
4 miles (6km)
From the Glenn Springs Road this short road leads to the Pine Canyon Trail. There are four backcountry roadside campsites located along this road.
5 miles (8km) From the Glenn Springs Road this short road leads to the Juniper Canyon Trail and Dodson Trail junction. There are two backcountry roadside campsites located along this road. This road is rocky and rough and usually requires four-wheel drive.
8.5 miles (14km)
This road connects the Glenn Springs Road with the River Road. This road is generally not maintained by the park, and is four wheel drive required at all times.
51 miles (82km)
The River Road traverses the southern portion of the Big Bend. While generally following the course of the Rio Grande, the road usually runs a considerable distance from the river, especially in its middle section. Due to the length and usually rough condition of the road, allow a full day to drive from end to end. Numerous backcountry roadside campsites are located along the road, allowing for an extended exploration. The west end of the road is lesser used, and generally in a rougher condition; the road crosses numerous washes, and is often impassable after rains.