Located in Presidio, Fort Leaton State Historic Site offers visitors a chance to see a window into life in Big Bend in 1848, when Ben Leaton built a trading post at this site. The fortified walls protected the fort against raids from Native Americans and borderland outlaws such as Pancho Villa.
Know Before You Go
The rule of thumb in Big Bend is NEVER DRIVE PAST A GAS STATION! You should always stop and keep your tank full.
Take plenty of water anytime you venture out in Big Bend, at least 2 days worth, and make sure you have a good spare tire. Tow trucks are few and far-between in Big Bend, and that’s assuming you have phone service to call.
A short nature trail introduces you to the names of many of the areas native plants.
Check the website for upcoming events, or call ahead of time to speak with one of the rangers to arrange an educational tour of the fort.
You’ll hear the name Pancho Villa quite often while visiting along the Rio Grande, and one room of the fort is dedicated to Villa’s famous, and infamous exploits!
Several of the rooms of the fort have been decorated as they would have been during the Leaton’s time, giving you an idea of how the family would have lived.
The family table is even laid out with a huge spread of food! We visited the day before Thanksgiving, and I told my husband that was as close as he was getting to a home-cooked turkey this year!
The Visitor’s Center sells select sodas, water and souvenirs.
A small museum inside the Visitors Center depicts prehistoric life in the Big Bend. We really enjoyed the various maps of the area, and topical maps of both the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos in Mexico.
There are picnic tables around the parking lot, which makes for for a nice place to eat lunch.
For more information, follow them on Facebook. Click HERE to visit their page.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Purchase your Big Bend Ranch State Park permit for hiking and overnight camping. Camping in Big Bend Ranch State Park is primitive only. The Sauceda unit is closer to Fort Leaton than Barton Warnock in Lajitas, but it’s 20+ miles off the highway. Click HERE to read more.
Grab lunch or dinner at the Enlightened Bean, or Bean Cafe. They serve homemade Mexican food, and really good burgers and sandwiches also, a plus since my daughter doesn’t love Mexican (obviously switched at birth). We grabbed ours to go and ate at the picnic tables at Fort Leaton, because it was just too beautiful a day to be inside!
Fort Leaton sits on FM 170, known as the River Road or El Camino del Rio, which runs east from Presidio to Lajitas, and is considered by many as one of the most scenic highways in the state! Click HERE to read more.
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.
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.
Fort Leaton State Historic Site
FM 170 E, Presidio
Click HERE to visit their website.
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