El Camino del Rio “The River Road”; FM 170 from Lajitas to Presidio

The drive along FM 170 from Lajitas to Presidio, known as El Camino del Rio or The River Road, offers beautiful views of the Rio Grande as the road dips, curves and rises with the land.  It also contains one of the steepest inclines in the state, at 17%.  Pack a lunch, fill up the gas tank and spend the day exploring this Texas treasure!


Know Before You Go

Fill up your gas tank before you head out, there aren’t any stations between Lajitas and Presidio.

Pack a lunch to eat at one of the stops along the way, or bring your passports and cross the border at Presidio for lunch in the town plaza.  Want to see more of Mexico?  Head 25 miles south to Peguis Canyon, where 4000′ high cliff walls house the Rio Conchos.

Big Bend Ranch State Park 

Texas’ largest state park consist of over 300,000 acres, and stretches along the Rio Grande River and FM 170.  Various spots along the highway allow for camping and hiking with a state park permit, purchased in either Lajitas or Presidio.  Unlike most state parks, camping in Big Bend Ranch State Park has only primitive camping.  Click HERE to read more.


From Lajitas, one of the first stops along the road is this old building, part of a one time movie set.  Used for many movies, such as 1993’s Rio Diablo and ’95 Streets of Laredo, the building is empty.  The Rio Grande sits just feet away.


A great stop along the highway is these fun tables under teepees, with a beautiful view of the Rio Grande below.


One of the hiking trails along the river.  This one takes you to see the hoodoos, rocks that appear to be balancing on smaller rocks.  Although they appear to be placed there by man, they are actually a result of erosion of softer layers of rock.


Before you get to Presidio, keep an eye out as you drive under the cables of the old gauging station that crosses the river.

Chinati Hot Springs (on my Big Bend Bucket List)

Spend an hour or the evening at Chinati Hot Springs, which offers guest rooms and day use of their hot springs baths.  From Presidio, continue 37 miles on FM 170.  Due to the popularity of the springs, reservations are required, even for day use.  Click HERE to visit their website.

More Things to do in the Terlinqua/Big Bend Area

Terlingua isn’t a town, but refers to the region, which includes the Ghost Town, as well as the hamlets of Lajitas and Study Butte.  Here is just a few of the things to do….

Big Bend Stables and Lajitas Stables offer 1/2 day, day and even 3 day trips into the Chihuahua Desert!  We loved it, and it’s an incredible way to experience Big Bend!  Click HERE to read more.

Just past Lajitas and the Big Bend Ranch State Park, the Rio Grande tumbles across the landscape.  Far Flung Outdoor Center offers river rafting trips from a 1/2 day to 30 days!  They also offer jeep, ATV and hiking tours!  Please click HERE to visit their website.

See the pictographs on Indian Head Mountain.  Ancient man left his mark all over the mountains of Big Bend, but one of the easiest to see is in Study Butte.  Indian Head Mountain road takes you right to the Big Bend National Park boundary (not an entrance), and the pictographs are located right off the road.

Big Bend National Park is huge, and you could spend your entire trip there, and not see a fraction of the park along, much less anything of the rest of the region.  There is a restaurant, RV and tent camping, lodging and high-demand cabins.   Click HERE to read more.

The Boquillas Border Crossing, in the Big Bend National Park, is a small boat that ferrys you, not your car, across the Rio Grande for $5 a person.  You can then take a burro into the Mexican tourist town of Boquillas for lunch and shopping.  Passports are required.

Lajitas Golf Resort and RV Park host luxurious rooms, a golf course, restaurant, spa, shops and the only swimming pool I could find in the area!  We didn’t have time, but I heard their zipline across the canyon is breathtaking!  Click HERE to visit their website.

Big Bend Ranch State Park is 300,000 acres stretched along the Rio Grande River.  Camping is all primitive.  Click HERE to read more.  The Visitors Center has an interesting interpretive center and garden.

Ojinaga, Mexico lies just across the border from Presidio, and is not really a tourist town, but does boast a good restaurant in the plaza.  Be sure and take your passports for everyone in your family, you can’t get into Mexico without them, and you can’t get back.   

Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun! 


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