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

Big Bend & Texas Mountains

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

Click Here for Photos of the Big Bend Experience

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 tour have been saying…

What an incredible week. It was wonderful. I rank David and Lewis at the top of my list of for the success of the week. They were perfect… professional. Accommodating. Engaged. Helpful. Flexible. Informative. Positive. All the things that matter in creating an atmosphere of a great trip. The accommodations and food options were outstanding. The routing maximized the experience. Fantastic scenery. Will be back! – Larry

David and Lewis, The Big Bend bike adventure was a tremendous success! Thanks for your great support in every area… driving, loading and unloading, moving luggage, arranging great places to eat, putting together awesome lunches and arranging for fun places to sleep! It was a week of great food, great, fun, new friends, and an extraordinary biking experience! I look forward to my next adventure with Lizard Head! – Gabe

That was the most outstanding trip I have had on a bike. The trip to Carlsbad Caverns was well worth (it) and I’m glad you have included that in the trip. The accommodations were so unique and very comfortable. The restaurants and food offered were outstanding. The Guides were outstanding. I look forward to another Lizard Head Cycling Tour. – Jane

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.

2024 Tour Dates

  • October 20 to 26, 2024 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED
  • October 27 to November 2, 2024 (Book Now!)

2025 Tour Dates

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.

Why Should you Sign-Up Now and OPEN a Tour Date?
This is the proverbial chicken and the egg conundrum! We need our cyclists to first commit to the date that works for them so that we can commit to that date.

For starters, when you OPEN a date you get to pick your preferred departure date, and there is no penalty if the tour does not run. Once you pick your tour date, Lizard Head closes nearby dates and funnels all additional riders to your chosen date until the tour meets its 6 rider minimum.

BONUS: As an added bonus, we can also hold a spot for you on another tour date of your choosing. There is no fee to switch to another tour date.

In conclusion, if you want a tour to run, we need you to sign up and not wait for others to do the same! Waiting for others may mean that a tour date takes longer or does not confirm. Just Do It! Once a few riders jump into the proverbial waters, others will follow!

Big Bend and Texas Mountains: Overview

Reptile Rewards

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

Meeting & Ending Town: Guests fly into El Paso International Airport (ELP) and shuttle with Lizard Head to our Night 1 Lodging. Drivers can meet us at Van Horn, TX and leave their car for the week; we will pick you up on the way from El Paso to our Night 1 Lodging.

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: $3,350 per person with shared accommodations. Add $550 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (6-Nights).

Tour Discounts: Please see our Reptile Rewards & Tour Discounts page to learn more about Reptile Rewards, Tour Discounts, and Group Discounts. Tour discounts are not stackable with any other discounts or promotions – only the highest valued discount is provided. Please note that for discounts to apply the tour minimum must be met.

Tour Includes: 7-Days guide service, 6-Nights lodging, all meals (except for 1 dinner), daily lunch en route, entrance fees, energy food, liquid refreshments, in-tour shuttles, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (if available) are additional.

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. Please note that non-riders cannot check into hotels prior to guide arrival as the guides need to manage the check-in process. Checking in a large group can be challenging and take longer than normal, so non-riders need to hang back and be patient. Non-riding spouses and partners are welcome to join the Lizard Head meal plan which includes breakfasts and dinners for $75 per day. Note: Lunches are not included for non-riders driving their own vehicles due to the inherent variability of both lunch timing and locations. It is best for non-riders to plan to explore each day.

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

NOTE: The make, model, and specifications of rental bikes may differ from what is described below. Please contact us if you have any specific needs for a rental bike or have any questions about rental bikes.

Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott Bikes. 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 about our Rental Bikes and Equipment

Road E-Bike Rentals: Click Here for more information on our Road E-Bike Rentals including pricing. Please note that E-Bikes are not available for certain tours including those that involve camping. Please contact us for more information before registering for a tour. NOTE: E-Bikes are great, but our tours are designed to be ridden without motorized assistance. We offer "bumps" along the road so that everyone can stay together.

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

Lizard Head Cycling Guides provides most meals on all tours (unless otherwise noted) including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guides will prepare a daily lunch en route for nearly every tour, both road and off-road, as well as provide nutritious snacks at periodic aid stations during the day.

Most of our road tours utilize local restaurants for all meals and occasionally guides may prepare a dinner or two during a tour. Due to the nature of being "off the grid", most of our off-road tours feature guide prepared meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. FUN NOTE: When guides prepare a meal in camp and the guests sit around and watch, this is called "Guide TV". :)

We also pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests and needs, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works best for you during your tour. Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the 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.

Dinners: On our road tours, Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients and guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu including: appetizer, salad, entrée, 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 equaling 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*

*PLEASE NOTE: Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations, road construction, road closures, and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Also, the distances and elevation profiles shown below may not reflect the actual distances and elevations while on tour as these are provided here to give an idea as to the anticipated mileage and terrain. Please view this itinerary, the distances, and elevation profiles as a general outline as to what to expect while on this tour.

Day 1: Shuttle from El Paso & Carlsbad Caverns National Park

If you are flying in for this tour, book flights to El Paso International Airport (ELP). Lizard Head provides a Day 1 early morning shuttle from El Paso, Texas to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico where we will spend a few hours exploring this magnificent natural wonder, and then onto the Night 1’s lodging.

If you are driving to this tour, you can either leave your car at the designated meeting hotel in El Paso or meet us at the designated meeting hotel in Van Horn late in the afternoon on Day 1 and leave your car there for the week. A post-tour shuttle is offered on the last day of the tour back to Van Horn and El Paso.

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

Day 2: Presidio to Terlingua
39 miles with up to 2,540 feet of climbing

On this first riding day of our Big Bend and the Texas Mountains Tour, we begin with a highlight ride. After a morning shuttle from Marfa we start east of Presidio, Texas 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 climb on this day with a 10% average grade for about a half mile. We finish the day pedaling into the Barton Warnock Visitors Center and then a short shuttle to the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas, which is famous for its Annual International Chili Cookoff.

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: 39 miles +2,540 feet / -2,700 feet

Day 3: 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 miles +2,750 feet / -3,480 feet

E.F.I. Elevation Profile: 96 miles +7,855 feet / -5,350 feet

Day 4: 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 miles +5,125 feet / -5,125 feet

Day 5: Chisos Basin to Marathon
78 miles with up to 2,845 feet of climbing
45 mile lower mileage option

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: 78 miles +2,845 feet / -4,180 feet

Day 6: Davis Mountains Loop
63 miles with up to 3,500 feet of climbing
50 mile lower mileage option

This is another highlight ride of the Big Bend tour! Starting from Point of Rocks Roadside Park we ride a classic loop through Davis Mountains past the McDonald Observatory back to Fort Davis and to our hotel. 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 and availability.

Elevation Profile: 63 miles +3,500 feet / -4,080 feet

Day 7: Fort Davis to Wood Canyon
32 miles with up to 2,675 feet of climbing

The final day is a reverse ride of the prior days’ route back through the Davis Mountains. After departing Fort Davis the climbing comes early as we ascend towards the McDonald Observatory. From here it is rolling terrain for the next 15 miles until the last final stretch where we enjoy a fun and fast descent. The ride ends in Wood Canyon where we pack up and shuttle back to Van Horn and then end in El Paso.

Elevation Profile: 32 miles +2,675 feet / -2,100 feet

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 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 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

If you have not already, now would be a great time to consider adding travel insurance to your tour. You are welcome to use any travel insurance company you would like. We recommend Generali/Trip Mate.

Generally, if contracting COVID causes clients to cancel or interrupt their tour, trip insurance companies would treat it as any other illness as long as it is contracted after the insurance was purchased. Please check your individual plan documentation for details. Please note that quarantine is usually only covered if clients are actually sick with COVID. If a state requires quarantine upon arrival because of standardized state law, coverage is generally not covered. Again, check your individual plan documentation for details.

American Guests - use this link:

  • The Premium Plan is the only plan which offers Pre-Existing coverage so long as the plan is purchased prior to Final Payment.
  • The Premium Plan is the only plan that offers an optional Cancel For Any Reason - the policy must be purchased within 24 hours of initial trip deposit, the full trip cost must be insured, and if they cancel for Any Reason, it must be 48 hours prior to departure, and the reimbursement for an Any Reason claim is 60% of pre-paid, insured, non-refundable trip cost.
  • Customer Service can be reached at 1-800-874-2442 for coverage questions and policy modifications or to purchase by phone. Agency Code: LIZA0855

Canadian Guests - use this link:

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