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Old 12-20-11, 03:42 PM   #1
longhaulblue
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Help with El Paso to Big Bend NP

Does anyone have advice on how to get to Van Horn from El Paso. Rt 20 merges into I-10. Can you ride the interstate in Texas? Is it advisable? What's an alternative route?

One idea of mine was to ride 62/180 out to Pine Springs, then take 54 to Van Horn. But it's a bit out of the way.

Are the Farm to Market roads mostly dirt roads? I don't mind hard pack dirt, but gravel is out of the question.

I prefer paved. Especially since the distances are pretty large.

I'd appreciate any advice from folks familiar with the area.

Thanks!
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Old 12-20-11, 04:49 PM   #2
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I've understood that it's ok to ride Texas interstates if there is no 'reasonable' alternative. My hobo cycling buddy Fred, the subject of a closed thread, told me that he has ridden a lot of miles on Texas interstates and never been ejected.

The Farm to Market roads in Texas are, in my experience, all paved, mostly in @#&! chipseal . OK if not fresh and you can take the lane. Light traffic.

Probably be cycling in BB next Spring. Be my first time there.
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Old 12-20-11, 05:09 PM   #3
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Rt 20 is the way to go. I 10 is no problem at all.



Van Horn 6 miles in the distance
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_5598.jpg (96.1 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5614.jpg (99.3 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5622.jpg (100.1 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5579.jpg (99.3 KB, 20 views)
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Old 12-20-11, 05:21 PM   #4
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Some Big Bend pics:
http://s256.photobucket.com/albums/h...view=slideshow
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Old 12-20-11, 05:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by longhaulblue View Post
Does anyone have advice on how to get to Van Horn from El Paso. Rt 20 merges into I-10. Can you ride the interstate in Texas? Is it advisable? What's an alternative route?

One idea of mine was to ride 62/180 out to Pine Springs, then take 54 to Van Horn. But it's a bit out of the way.

Are the Farm to Market roads mostly dirt roads? I don't mind hard pack dirt, but gravel is out of the question.

I prefer paved. Especially since the distances are pretty large.

I'd appreciate any advice from folks familiar with the area.

Thanks!
Fred Tipps rode it......NM to FL.

Here he is in Ft Van Horn


Later in Santa Fe TX
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Old 12-20-11, 05:45 PM   #6
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Many sections of freeways out west are bicycle friendly as there is no other way to get from point A to Point B.
Have ridden on I-10, I-17 and I-19 without any issues.
As long as it is not marked 'bicycles prohibited' then we use it.
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Old 12-20-11, 08:58 PM   #7
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Take Rt 20 till it merges with I-10. Its about 60 easy miles to Van Horn on I-10 (it's completely lawful). I listened to music with earphones to mitigate the noise.
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Old 12-20-11, 09:09 PM   #8
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Thanks, guys.

10wheels, I love the pics. It's everything I imagine the place to be. Do you have a GPX of your route? I see you rode around Big Bend Ranch State Park. Was that FM170 along the Rio Grande to Presidio, then north on 67?

I'm thinking of a spring ride, late March/April, thereabouts.
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Old 12-20-11, 09:45 PM   #9
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This is my modified southern tier route that includes big bend & state ranch. Here's the gpx.
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Old 12-20-11, 10:23 PM   #10
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Big Bend Sleeping Under The Stars, March 2010



Big Bend Desert

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Old 12-21-11, 07:13 AM   #11
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If you have some route flexibility, consider visiting Balmorhea State Park for a step back in time. It features a huge CCC constructed spring fed pool with water temps in the 70's no matter the time of year. The McDonald Observatory is also a cool place. It would be a heck of a climb to get to it but a fun, fun ride back down.
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Old 12-21-11, 08:06 AM   #12
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Here's an interesting alternative to go from EP to Van Horn. If one can take one's bike/gear on board the train car (carry on) take AMTRK to Alpine. Get off and ride the region in a figure eight fashion. The national park, Marathon, Marfa, Ft. Davis then Balmohrea. Or the other way around.
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Old 12-21-11, 12:41 PM   #13
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Thanks for the suggestions, reed523 and jspoonsr. I will keep it in mind.

Thanks BigAura for your gpx file.

I have a question about water. Do you recommend a 2 day supply? The distances are pretty large between towns. Or are there small stops that are unmapped where you can refill?

Thanks again!
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Old 12-21-11, 12:45 PM   #14
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I recommend you carry 6 bottles.
When we rode down to the Rio Grande from the Stillwell Ranch it was Hot and I used 1 bottle every 6 miles.
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Old 12-21-11, 04:23 PM   #15
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Thanks for sharing all of these pictures. This is very pretty country. Maybe someday I'll be able to ride in it.


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Rt 20 is the way to go. I 10 is no problem at all.



Van Horn 6 miles in the distance
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Old 12-21-11, 06:07 PM   #16
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Here's a few more pictures from a different kind of 2 wheeled point of view. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=327803 I didn't realize it at the time but this trip was one of those "defining moments" that eventually gave birth to my cross country tour this past summer. Have a great time!
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Old 12-21-11, 06:13 PM   #17
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I recommend you carry 6 bottles
I agree.
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Old 12-23-11, 02:20 PM   #18
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Hi Longhaulblue,

You might be interested in an article I wrote on CGOAB about riding the Big Bend area. Take a look at this link. It, too, has some pichers.

Spoon
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Old 12-23-11, 09:34 PM   #19
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Hi Longhaulblue,

You might be interested in an article I wrote on CGOAB about riding the Big Bend area. Take a look at this link. It, too, has some pichers.

Spoon
Thanks, Spoon.

I did a quick read of your CGOAB article. It's exactly what I need. I'll be sure to follow Nicole's journal too. The distances, availability of services, and accounts of vistas, are very helpful.

I was originally planning to fly to El Paso and ride out to Big Bend. But now that you mentioned that the Texas Eagle goes through Alpine, I might consider a train ride instead. I live in the greater Chicago area.

You seem iffy about stealth camping. Perhaps Big Aura can chime in here. From his pics, it seems he stealth camped.
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Old 12-26-11, 01:43 PM   #20
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You seem iffy about stealth camping. Perhaps Big Aura can chime in here. From his pics, it seems he stealth camped.
I did stealth on my way to Big Bend and in State Ranch. In the National Park I obtained backcountry permits to camp in the desert. I did this as a walk-in to the backcountry-permit ranger's office. The open zone permit allows you to camp anywhere within your selected section following these regulations. I rode my bicycle for a few miles out on a sand road, locked it up, and then hiked a mile from the road to my camping spot in the previously posted pictures. At night, after the moon set, there was no light pollution only starlight. It was definitely a unique and exciting experience.

If you decided to camp backcountry: do be prepared for LOTS of VERY SHARP desert objects. I use Marathon XR's and still got two flats in that desert area.
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Old 12-27-11, 09:55 PM   #21
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BigAura, I saw a pic of you and your bike on another thread (about weight). What is it you have strapped on top of your rear rack? Is that a large water bottle?

I've been wondering how to carry water for the Big Bend trip. I figure I will need at least 2 gallons or about 8 to 10 liters of water if I need to stop halfway between services. A 2 day supply.
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Old 12-28-11, 08:12 AM   #22
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BigAura, I saw a pic of you and your bike on another thread (about weight). What is it you have strapped on top of your rear rack? Is that a large water bottle?
It's a BearVault Food Container that I used on my Canada/Alaska tour.

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I've been wondering how to carry water for the Big Bend trip. I figure I will need at least 2 gallons or about 8 to 10 liters of water if I need to stop halfway between services. A 2 day supply.
Besides my water bottles I carry a soft Nalgene canteen. For the desert I supplemented these with standard recyclable plastic water bottles.
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Old 12-28-11, 08:44 AM   #23
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Big Bend Sleeping Under The Stars, March 2010



Big Bend Desert

Nice!
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