Big Bend & Texas Mtns Bike Tour, Lizard Head Cycling Guides
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891

Big Bend & Texas Mountains Bike Tour

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Please click here to jump to the Overview section with all tour details including pricing.

Big Bend and Texas Mountains: Highlights

Welcome to The Other Side of Nowhere

Traveling through the most southwestern parts of the Lone Star State, our Big Bend National Park bike tour provides sensational scenery, amazing vistas and an abundance of remote low-traffic roads as it wanders 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

Must Watch PBS Documentary: Big Bend: The Wild Frontier of Texas

Riding from Presidio

Riding along the Rio Grande

Big climb on the way to Terlingua on Day 2

Northern Chihuahua Desert

The Northern Chihuahua Desert in Big Bend National Park

February bluebonnets get busy in late winter in Big Bend National Park with an average of 70 degrees and sunny weather! ????

Big Bend National Park

Climbing into the Chisos Basin

Big Bend wildlife

Construction of a USA-Mexico border wall means huge impacts to wildlife. Migratory corridors would be eliminated, dispersal events would no longer occur, and access to the Rio Grande river, would be cut off for both wildlife and humans.

International Dark Sky Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park is a designated “International Dark Sky Park” by the International Dark Sky Association. 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: Testimonials

Read what previous guests on our Big Bend and Texas Mountains bike tour have been saying…

My only complaint is that I am not still there on a ride. The hotels in Terlingua, Marathon and Fort Davis were marvelously Texan. Comfortable hotels with character are way too few in this country and world. Our crew, Dave, Liam and Leslie were all stars. They have probably spoiled me for all future tours. It seemed like anything we wanted at any time was delivered with a very sincere smile. It felt like they were having a good time because we were having such a good time. The food was the type of food I try to eat – not heavily processed, recognizable as food, and really tasty. Our crew also knows how to cook. That was a top 10 vacation. – Jim

Great trip last week!! Roy, Evan and DeAnne are excellent guides. There is nothing to improve! They worked together as though they had been a team for many trips. Loved the old Texas hotels!! – Ginger

Just wanted you to know what a great Big Bend trip we had:

  • energizing and supportive guides
  • fabulous food at each aid station and when meals were prepared by guides
  • guides were adept at problem-solving, communication, and adapting to conditions in the moment
  • seamless lodging and transportation logistics at start and finish of trip
  • interesting lodging every night, from historic to luxurious to the basic (but ideally located) Chisos Mountain Lodge
  • the guest astronomer who spoke to us in Fort Davis was a delightful surprise
  • and of course, BBNP is an epic park!

All in all, a five star trip. Thanks again – Suzan and Dave

Big Bend and Texas Mountains: 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

To easily register for a particular tour, please click the Book Now! link after the tour date listed below. This will select the tour name and the appropriate date on the registration form.

2022 Tour Dates

Please don’t fret about the mileage. Since fellow riders will have few miles in their legs, spring tours are generally considered training camps. Take it one day at a time and you’ll finish stronger and happier by week’s end.

  • February 20 to 26, 2022 (Book Now!)
  • February 27 to March 5, 2022 (Book Now!)
    A new moon on March 2, 2022 means dark stargazing skies at night!
  • March 6 to 12, 2022 (Book Now!)
  • March 13 to 19, 2022 (Book Now!)
  • March 20 to 26, 2022 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
  • March 27 to April 2, 2022 (Book Now!)
    A new moon on April 1, 2022 means dark stargazing skies at night!
  • October 23 to 29, 2022 (Book Now!)
    A new moon on October 25, 2022 means dark stargazing skies at night!
  • October 30 to November 5, 2022 (Book Now!

Tour Status Notes: NO STATUS = Date Set, no riders have signed up. TOUR OPENED = Tour Opened, rider minimums not met. TOUR A GO! = Tour is Go, rider minimums met. SOLD OUT = Tour Full, rider maximums met.

Big Bend and Texas Mountains: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 7-Days/6-Nights (A 6-Day/5-Night option is available for private groups, please contact us for more information)

Meeting & Ending Town: Van Horn, TX. Guests fly into El Paso International Airport (ELP) and shuttle with Lizard Head on Day 0 to Van Horn. Drivers can meet us at Van Horn and leave their car for the week.

Total Miles: 275-390 over 7-days of riding (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Mileage Range: 35-75

Ability Levels: Intermediate (2/3) , Advanced (3/4)

Tour Cost: $2,995 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

Non-Riding Spouses & Partners on Tour: If a non-riding spouse or partner would like to join you on tour and they have their own transportation, they can stay in your room for the cost of the tour's single room supplement. Non-Riding spouses and partners can join a tour's meal plan of three meals a day for $85 per day.

Single Room Supplement:

  • Add a total of $550 to the Tour Cost (7-Day Tour, includes 6-nights).
  • The cost is reduced by 1/2 half if a rider is willing to share and no same-sex share is available.

Tour Includes: 6-nights of lodging, all meals except for 1 dinner, daily lunch en route, guide service, entrance fees, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage therapy & bike rental are additional.

Lodging: (subject to change)

Meeting Hotel and Ending Hotel reservations and costs are NOT included unless specified otherwise. Guests are on-their-own to make reservations at the Meeting Hotel or Ending Hotel, or other nearby hotels.

Road Bike Rentals

The Scott Addict 10 Disc was designed from the ground up with those longer days in mind. With geometry that is less focused on racing and more on enduring, the Addict 10 will be your go to when you’re looking to put the miles in.

The Scott Addict 10 Disc features: Carbon Frame and Fork, Shimano Ultegra 2x11 Drivetrain, 34x32 Compact Gearing, 30mm Tires, and Hydraulic Disc Brakes. Approx. Weight: 16.89 lbs / 7.66 kg (without pedals)

Learn More: Click Here to learn more about our Road Bike Rentals including pricing.

Road E-Bike Rentals: Click Here for more information on our Road E-Bike Rentals including pricing.

Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free Road Bike Rental per couple for a one week tour. ($250 value. Pedal bikes only. E-Bikes excluded.)

Tandems and Recumbents Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on our tours.

If you have any further questions, please read more on our Rental Bikes FAQ page. You can also email us at or call us at 970.728.5891

Also read Things To Do In El Paso either before or after your tour.

Meals On Tour

Lunches: 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!

Dinners: 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.

Overall Route Map:

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

Definition of Ability Levels
= Intermediate (2/3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 1 to 3 times a week for a total of 50 or more miles.
= Upper Intermediate (3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 2 to 4 times a week for a total of 75 or more miles.
= Advanced (3/4) Rides and/or takes spin classes 3 to 5 times a week for a total of 100 or more miles. Has ridden multi-day tours and done a century ride.
= Expert (4) Rides 4 or more times per week totaling 150 or more miles. Rides E.F.I. with regularity. Has done numerous multi-day tours, century rides and races.

How Fit do I Have to Be?
If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equalling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. We like to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week long bike tour is to go on a week long tour.

Our average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so we take our time to stop, take pictures and see the sights. We have all day to reach our destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. We offer reduced mileage options for each day. Of course if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), we love to show them all the extra climbs, loops and hidden canyons that can be included!

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. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best. 🙂

Slow or Fast?
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 relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

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: Itinerary*

*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations, road construction, and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as a general outline as to what to expect on this tour.

Day 0: Arrival in El Paso, TX or Van Horn, TX

If you are flying in for this tour, book flights to El Paso International Airport (ELP) on the day prior to the tour start. Lizard Head will offer a pre-tour 3:00 PM shuttle from El Paso, TX to the meeting hotel in Van Horn, TX and a post-tour shuttle on Day 7 back to El Paso.

If you are you driving to this tour, you can meet us at the meeting hotel in Van Horn, TX on Day 0 and leave your car there for the week. At the end of the tour we will shuttle you back to Van Horn. Drivers do not have to meet us in El Paso.

Please refer to your tour confirmation documents for exact logistics and meeting hotel information.

Meeting Hotel and Ending Hotel reservations and costs are NOT included unless specified otherwise. Guests are on-their-own to make reservations at the Meeting Hotel or Ending Hotel, or other nearby hotels.

Day 1: Presidio to Terlingua
42-miles with up to 2,900 feet of climbing

Day 1 of our Big Bend and the Texas Mountains Tour starts the tour with a highlight ride. After a morning shuttle from Van Horn we start just outside Presidio, Texas at Fort Leaton State Historic Site and ride a beautiful route along the Rio Grande. On this ride Mexico is just to our right (30-feet away) for nearly the entire route. The terrain is undulating river grade (1% to 2%) as we ride through Big Bend Ranch State Park.  There is one significant on this climb on this day with  14%+ for about a one-quarter of a mile. We finish the day pedaling into the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas. Terlingua is famous for its Chile Cook off.

The following video gives a good visual of our Day 1 ride along the Rio Grand from Presidio and through Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Elevation Profile: +3690 ft / -3365 ft

Elevation Profile: +3690 ft / -3365 ft

Day 2: Terlingua to Santa Elena Canyon
Standard: 48 miles with up to 2,500 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 96 miles with up to 7,455 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 shuttle to the Chisos Mountains Lodge. The E.F.I. option is to ride from Santa Elena Canyon to Chisos Mountains Lodge for an epic 96 mile day!

Elevation Profile: +2751 ft / -3481 ft

Standard Elevation Profile: 48 mi +2750 ft / -3480 ft

E.F.I. Elevation Profile: 96 mi +7855 ft / -5350 ft

Day 3: Chisos Basin to Rio Grande Village
Standard: 30 miles with up to 785 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 60 miles with up to 4,725 feet of climbing

Today is a layover in Chisos Basin with options for hiking and for a ride from Chisos Basin to Rio Grande Village and back. On the ride we start from the Chisos Mountains for a 29-mile descent towards the Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Visitor Center near the river and Mexican border. After the descent cyclists can spend a few hours on the river at an excellent natural hot spring or can opt to ride back to the Chisos Lodge from the Hot Springs to make it 60-mile day with a stiff 4,725 feet of climbing.

E.F.I. Elevation Profile: 60 mi +5125 ft / -5125 ft

Day 4: Chisos Basin Layover Day

The Chisos Mountains are a biological “sky island” within Big Bend National Park. Rising thousands of feet above the northern Chihuahuan Desert the Chisos Mountains are home to a spruce and fir tree forest, black bears, panthers, and birds of seemingly every type. As a result, climbing from the desert to the Chisos is the biological equivalent of traveling from Mexico to Canada.

This layover day provides the opportunity to hike the numerous trails within the Chisos Basin and to simply relax within the biological heart of Big Bend National Park.

Day 5: Chisos Basin to Marathon
78 miles with up to 2,845 feet of climbing

Starting from Chisos Basin, we ride north over Panther Pass, descend down to Panther Junction, cruise through Persimmon Gap, and then 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.

Elevation Profile: +2845 ft / -4180 ft

Day 6: Davis Mountains Loop
75-miles with up to 4,115 feet of climbing
50-mile lower mileage option

This is another highlight ride of the Big Bend tour! Starting from Fort Davis, Texas we ride a classic loop through Davis Mountains past the McDonald Observatory back to our hotel in Fort Davis. It is a day to remember. The Davis Loop offers very quiet roads, beautiful scenery and challenging climbing.

Tonight after dinner if skies are clear and dark we take an optional shuttle back to the McDonald Observatory for evening stargazing. NOTE: The evening stargazing is dependent on the seasonal schedule of the observatory.

Elevation Profile: +4115 ft / -4115 ft

Day 7: 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 crystal-clear water of the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world, Balmorhea State Park. More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs where the water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round. After lunch and a refreshing dunk in the spring, we shuttle back to El Paso to end the tour.

Elevation Profile: +471 ft / -2042 ft

Elevation Profile: +471 ft / -2042 ft

Big Bend and Texas Mountains: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with 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: All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on the final day

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.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through TripAssure. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying insurance for a $2,500 tour ranges from $100 (standard plan) to about $200 (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:

  • The best options for our clients are either the Asset or Bridge plans.
  • The Asset-Plus & Complete plans both include a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option.
    • As a result these plans cost more.
    • The Cancel-for-Any-Reason option is only available when insurance is purchased within two weeks of initial deposit.
  • For information on Coronavirus, please click here.
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