Top Ten National Parks for Biking

Big Bend National Park
  |  Gorp.com
Ever see that bumper sticker"Don't Mess With Texas"? Bring your wheels to Big Bend National Park and you'll understand why. Bikers contend with safety concerns that seem straight out of the Old Testament, from flash floods to poisonous snakes. The routes are remote and travel over treacherous terrain.

So why brave a place the Spaniards dubbed El Despoblado (the uninhabitable region)? At 801,000 acres, Big Bend is one of America's largest national parks—and one of its least visited. This is a chance to leave civilization behind—to surround yourself with canyons, desert, and mountains. It will be a two-wheel, Texas-size adventure you'll never forget—just be sure to pack maps, patch kits and tubes, and more water than you think you'll need.

On the Road

If you can set up a shuttle, the biking opportunities in Big Bend are endless. From Panther Junction to Castolon via the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, cyclists spin across 35 miles (about three to six hours) of pavement and a number of steep hills. The route skirts the Chisos Mountains, passing photo-worthy geologic features and historic sites as it winds down to the Rio Grande Valley. Get an early enough start and you'll catch the summer sun striking the mouth of the Santa Elena Canyon at ride's end.

Hit the Trail

A shuttle is the way to go for Old Ore Road, which runs between Dagger Flats and Rio Grande Village. This trail will test your legs and lungs on 26 strenuous miles of loose gravel. With strikingly colored badlands flanking the high-desert scene and far-off peaks hovering hazily in the distance, the views are worth the effort. Head north to south for an easier ride and the best Chisos Mountains photo ops.


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