Big Bend & Texas Mountains
Welcome to The Other Side of Nowhere
Traveling through the most western parts of the Lone Star State, this journey provides sensational scenery, amazing vistas and an abundance of remote low-traffic roads through the Chihuahuan Desert, the Davis Mountains, Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park. With vast stretches of lonely high desert roads interspersed with challenging mountain climbs, this tour is a road cyclist’s paradise and one you will not soon forget.
No fire can burn so bright, no projection can duplicate the colors that dance over the desert or the bare rock formations that form the backdrop. No words can tell you, and no painter hold it. It is only to be visited and looked at with awe, it will make you breathe deeply whenever you think of it, for you have inhaled eternity. – Ludwig Bemelmans on describing the beauty of the Big Bend region of Texas
Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour: Highlights
International Dark Sky Park
Big Bend National Park is designated as a Gold Star “International Dark Sky Park“, only one of nine parks to receive this prestigious rating on the entire planet. The Big Bend region has what is considered the darkest sky in the lower 48-states. With wide open vistas you will experience a night sky that has largely disappeared from most of the United States. Plan to stay up after dark to experience unique astronomical sights during your stay in the park.
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
NOTE: Skip ahead and watch from 2:56 minutes into the following video to see the riding inside Big Bend National Park to Santa Elena Canyon along the Ross maxwell Scenic Drive.
Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour: Dates
Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891.
2018 Early Spring Tour Dates:
Early spring tours are generally considered training camps. Fellow riders will have few miles in their legs, so don’t let the overall tour mileage worry you. Take it one day at a time and you’ll finish stronger and happier then before.
2018 Spring Tour Dates:
- April 8 to 14, 2018 (Book Now!)
2017 Late Autumn Tour Dates:
- October 22 to 28, 2017 (Book Now!)
- October 29 to November 4, 2017 (Book Now!)
- November 6 to 12, 2017 (Book Now!)
Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour: Overview
Tour Length: 7-Days Riding/6-Nights Lodging (Sunday through Saturday)
Starting Town: El Paso, TX (guests fly into El Paso International Airport – ELP).
Ending Town: El Paso, TX (guests fly out of El Paso International Airport – ELP)
Total Miles: 275-390 over 7-days of riding (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Mileage Range: 33-75
Ability Level: 2/3 (Intermediate to Advanced). Intermediate to Advanced cyclists will all enjoy the this tour. Expect beautiful rolling desert terrain, flat open distances and only a few long/steep climbs.
Tour Cost: $2,750 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
Single Room Supplement: $550 for a private room each night of the tour.
Tour Includes: 6-nights of lodging (Sunday through Thursday), 6-days of meals, guide service, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage & bike rental are additional.
Lodging Includes 6-Nights: (subject to change)
- Night 1: Hotel Paisono, Marfa, Texas (elevation 4,685′)
- Nights 2, 3, & 4: Big Bend Holiday Hotel, Terlinqua, TX (elevation 2,891′)
- Night 5: Gage Hotel, Marathon, TX (elevation 4,055′)
- Night 6: Hotel Limpia, Fort Davis, TX (elevation 4,892′)
Road Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.
Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.
Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.
Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free bike high performance rental per couple ($250 value).
Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.
☛ Also read Things To Do In El Paso either before or after your tour.
Meals On Tour
Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.
Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!
Overall Route Map
Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?
Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a “bump” via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is “off the front” and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They’ll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.
Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we’re well known for in our business. Daily shuttle options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy our tours through mileage customization.
Slow or Fast?
PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour. Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they’re surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people. Speed does not matter as long as you are moving on the bike.
Like we say to even the most reluctant cyclists: “You will be ready for a Lizard Head Cycling tour when you are finished with a Lizard Head Cycling tour”.
If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!
Please also see this blog post for more information.
Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour: Itinerary*
*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.
Day 0 (Saturday): Arrival in El Paso, TX
Guests either drive to El Paso, Texas, or fly into El Paso International Airport (ELP) on the day prior to the tour start on Sunday. The meeting hotel will be the Courtyard Marriott, El Paso Airport (6610 International Dr, El Paso, TX 79925) which offers complimentary shuttle service from the airport. NOTE: The Saturday evening hotel lodging is not included in the tour cost.
Day 1 (Sunday): Davis Mountains
Standard, 43 miles with up to 1,900 feet of climbing
E.F.I. (every freaking inch), 71 miles with up to 2,300 feet of climbing
Today we meet, pack and depart from El Paso very early as we have a long shuttle to our ride start at the western edge of the Davis Mountains. Starting late morning/early afternoon, we ride south through rolling high-desert terrain with a gradual climb for the first half of the ride past Sawtooth Mountain and around Mt. Livermore. The second half offers a smooth descent onto straight desert roads at the end of which we shuttle to Marfa, Texas. Those looking for more miles can optionally ride E.F.I. to Hotel Paisono in Marfa adding 28 miles for a total of 71 miles.
Day 2 (Monday): Presidio to Terlingua
59 miles with up to 3,700 feet of climbing
This day of our Big Bend and the Texas Mountains Tour is an epic one! After a morning shuttle from Marfa, we start just outside Presidio, Texas at Fort Leaton State Historic Site and ride along the Rio Grande with Mexico just to our right for nearly the entire route. As we continue to ride eastward we come upon the undulating terrain within Big Bend Ranch State Park and with it, one of the steepest climbs of our tour at 14%+ for about a mile. We finish the day pedaling into the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas and to our accommodations at Big Bend Holiday Hotel.
The following video gives a great visual of FM 170 along the Rio Grand from Presidio and through Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Day 3 (Tuesday): Terlingua to Santa Elena Canyon
48 miles with up to 2,800 feet of climbing
Today we start the riding early from Terlingua to the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon via the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
We will have lunch at the end of the ride near Santa Elena Canyon and then take a small hike to take in this majestic canyon and the Rio Grande River with Mexico merely a stone’s throw across. After our hike, we ride or shuttle back to the ghost town of Terlingua for another night of lodging at the Big Bend Holiday Hotel.
Day 4 (Wednesday): Terlingua to Chisos Basin
Standard, 33 miles with up to 3,785 feet of climbing
E.F.I., 66 miles with up to 4,950 feet of climbing
Again starting from Terlingua, today offers a “short” 33 mile ride with perhaps the most challenging ascent of the entire week near the end: a seven mile Category 1 climb up into Chisos Basin. Once in the basin, guides will prepare a well deserved lunch and afterwards, guests will have the afternoon to hike along many world class trails within the magnificent Chisos Basin, so don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes into the van prior to today’s ride!
After hiking, we shuttle back to Terlingua for a final night at the Big Bend Holiday Hotel. The E.F.I. option for today will be riding from the Chisos Basin back to Terlingua for a total of 66 miles.
Day 5 (Thursday): Panther Junction to Marathon
68 miles with up to 2,385 feet of climbing
Starting from Panther Junction, we ride north away from Chisos Basin, through Persimmon Gap and out of Big Bend National Park eventually making our way to the quirky west Texas town of Marathon. Early in the ride we will stop at the recently opened Fossil Discovery Exhibit, a self-guided exhibit with an amazing collection of animal and plant specimens spanning through 130 million years of geologic time.
After departing the exhibit, the terrain along the way is rolling and the wide-open desert views are spectacular! Our accommodations this evening is at the world-class Gage Hotel in Marathon, a true oasis in the desert.
Day 6 (Friday): Davis Mountains Loop
75 miles with up to 4,200 feet of climbing
Starting from Fort Davis we ride a classic loop through Davis Mountains back to our hotel. There will be time for a stop at the McDonald Observatory. This will be a day to remember!
Day 7 (Saturday): Fort Davis to Balmorhea State Park
33 miles with up to 470 feet of climbing
The final day is a another classic downhill route through the Davis Mountains to the largest spring fed swimming pool in the world, Balmorhea Springs. After a refreshing dunk to end the tour we shuttle back to El Paso to end the tour on Saturday afternoon.
Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs
Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.
Meals: Most meals are included. In total 5 dinners, 5 breakfasts and 6 lunches are included.
Breakfasts and dinners are in restaurants where clients either order off the menu or choose from a buffet. Fresh lunches that include salads, local fruit, vegetables and meats are served in roadside parks by the Lizard Head Cycling Guides. Any dietary preferences or allergies should be noted on the registration form. Each of Lizard Head Cycling’s lunches contains gluten free options.
If on any given night a guest is tired or not feeling particularly social, they can choose to eat early and retire. Lizard Head Cycling enjoys hosting its guests for meals each evening, but understands some of us may just need to lie down after a day in the saddle. A meal should not feel like marathon after a big day on the bike.
Ride Difficulty: The Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour is designed for intermediate to advanced cyclists with various levels of fitness. Each day there are additional mileage options for advanced riders. With the rolling terrain and only a few steep & long climbs, the Big Bend and Texas Mountains Bike Tour is a good tour for early season conditioning.
Tour Support: A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment supports Lizard Head Cycling’s tours. Cyclists keep a day bag that is accessible within the support vehicle.
The vehicle will sag and then pass riders to set up aid stations every 20 to 25 miles. This allows cyclists to linger at the back and then take a ten-mile, fifteen-mile or whatever mile “bump” forward to catch-up or get ahead of the group. Energy food, drink mixes, and fresh fruit are available throughout each stage.
The Daily Schedule: Cyclists ride their own pace. Lizard Head Cycling does its best to support riders in their varying desires and efforts. Cyclists can either use our tours to simply support their tour experience or to engage in a guided experience along the route.
Cue sheets with directions, profiles and locations of aid stations are given out for each stage.
General Tour & Cancellation Policies
Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides teams up with Seven Corners for travel insurance. Seven Corners offers:
- Travel Medical
- Medical Evacuation
- 24/7 Assistance
- Trip Cancellation
Be sure to go to our custom Seven Corners portal by clicking this link or by clicking the the banner on the right after confirming your tour with us to get a quote on travel insurance.