Texas Highway 170, Presidio to Study Butte

Texas Highway

Presidio To Study Butte

If this road is not the top motorcycle road in Texas it has to be in the top, at most, three. According to a article put out by the State it has been named one of the top ten roads in the US by National Geographic, however I have not verified that.

I have ridden this road in all four seasons and it is great, no matter the time of year. However, it gets real hot here in the summer and summer can last a long time. Most recently I was here the first of May and the temperature was already in the high 90's. Also, much of the road in down among canyons with a lot of exposed rocks which contain and reflect the heat so it can seem even warmer.

The ideal time to ride 170 would be in the spring or fall two or three days after a good rain. This is a desert climate and the Cactus Flower, Big Bend Texasplants are quick to flower. Cactus of all types and other flowers can be very beautiful as this photo shows.

Highway 170 is not close to anything. Out in this part of the country, nothing is close to anything. If you haven't ridden in this part of the country before you will be amazed by the views and open spaces.

From Presidio Highway 170 follows the Rio Grande to the south east. The Rio Grande is the border between Mexico and the US and is not much of river at this point. Walking across would not be recommended but it would not be difficult. As a result, the Border Patrol is all over the place.

There  are a couple of things you want to keep in mind while riding Hwy 170 or about any road in this area:

One, there are not a lot of bridges on this route. But, there are a lot of low water crossings. Essentially low spots in the road that the water runs over if and when it rains. These low spots collect quite bit of sand and gravel and often larger rocks. Sand, gravel and large rocks are not fun on road bikes so watch the low water crossings.

Bird in Cactus, Highway 170, TexasTwo, this is a desert and on first look, if you are not familiar with deserts, it looks pretty much uninhabited. However, it is very much inhabited by critters of all sizes, and depending on what you find, quite a bit of it is poisonous. One of the larger things out here are the Javelina, which most folks think are pigs, but are not. But, for our purposes, call them small, 200 or so pound 4 footed animals that can run out just in time to get hit. They are solid, so keep an eye out and don't hit one.

Now, back to the road:

Head east out of Presidio and you are riding over some not so very scenic roads. After a bit you pass Fort Leaton State Park (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/fort-leaton) which has a visitor's center and is quite interesting and worth a stop. After the fort the road goes over several of the low water crossings and shortly you enter Big Bend Ranch State Park (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/big-bend-ranch), the largest and one of the newest Texas State Parks. As the name suggests, the park was at one time a ranch and they ran cattle on this land. From the look of the land, that had to be tough beef.

Speaking of that type of stuff, notice the land across the river. In this area, Mexico is the productive area with irrigated fields and all sorts of crops.

After a few miles the canyon walls close in and the road starts to twist, turn, rise and fall.  The roadTrike on Highway 170, Texas becomes a riders road. It is tough to keep both eyes on the road as the scenery just keeps getting better and better.

Fortunately Highway 170 doesn't carry a lot of traffic but you do want to be careful as many of the hills are blind and you cannot see which way the road goes. There are pull outs along the way to see the views and there are also trailheads for those who want to take hikes.  After many miles of enjoyable riding and fantastic views there is one more thing to get your attention. Namely the steepest highway grade in the State of Texas and the views on the way up and from the top are spectacular.  You are going to way to stop at the top, look around and take some photos. Just make sure that you pull off of the road and leave the Highway 170 view, Texasbike in gear so it won't roll. After this, just follow the road through Lajitas and Terlingua into Study Butte.

In this area there are several, shall we say, interesting motels and restaurants if you are interested in stopping for a meal or the night. There is a very nice lodge in Big Bend National Park, but you will probably need a reservation.

If you want to keep riding, turn left and Highway 118, also one of Texas' finest will lead you back to Alpine where there are all sorts of fine places to eat and sleep.

Turn right and you head into one of my favorite places, Big Bend NP. This is a great place with all sorts of things to see. It is like no other place you have ever seen.

However, be advised that if you are not staying in the park, it is a long ride to Marathon before you will find a motel. Also, gas up in Panther Junction as there is no gas past there until Marathon.

As you have seen, this is a stunning land and Highway 170 is a stunning road. Myself, everytime I do this road I tell myself I need to come back and do it again, and I do.