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 Road 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 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

Magnificent Desolation!

Magnificent Desolation!

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

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: 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

2019 Late Autumn Tour Dates:

  • November 3 to 9, 2019 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED 6 riders needed to make GO!

2020 Early Spring 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.

2020 Late Autumn Tour Dates:

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Big Bend and Texas Mountains: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 6-Days Riding/5-Nights Lodging (Sunday through Friday)

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)

Are you driving to this tour?  If so, ask us for details. Drivers can meet us near Marfa, Texas and leave their car for the week. They do not have to meet us in El Paso.

Total Miles: 275-390 over 6-days of riding (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Mileage Range: 33-75

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

Tour Cost: $2,750 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.

2020 Early Bird Discount: Take $300 off any 6-day or longer road bike tour and $50 off bike rental for 2020 tours booked by September 30, 2019 (NOTE: Western US tours only; this discount is not stackable with other discounts.)

Single Room Supplement: Add a total of $450 to the Tour Cost (includes 6-nights) for private rooms. Add $275- if rider is willing to share and no same-sex share is available.

Tour Includes: 5-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)

NOTE: 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.

Bike Rental

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. Ebikes excluded, pedal bikes only).

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

Read more on our Road Bike Rental FAQs page.

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 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: 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. 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: 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
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.

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 2,800 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 96 miles with up to 7,855 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 5,125 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 5,125 feet of climbing.

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

Day 4: 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 5: Davis Mountains Loop
75 miles with up to 4,115 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!

Elevation Profile: +4115 ft / -4115 ft

Day 6: 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, Texas to end the tour on Saturday afternoon.

NOTE: 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.

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: 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.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through MH Ross Travel Insurance. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below or Lizard Head Cycling Guides can also set-up a policy for its clients.

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.

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