Downhill Big Bend National Park, Texas 2021

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Celebrating 12 years leading bicycle tours in the best of all 50 states, where will you go next?
 
2021
 
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  • With the popularity of “Downhill Colorado”, we thought where else can we go that we can ride mostly downhill and is also warm in February. With that in mind, Downhill Big Bend is our new “downhill” adventure.
  • Introduce or reacquaint yourself to the Big Bend National Park in Big Bend, Texas – considered Texas’ best kept secret!
  • Take in stunning views and beautiful miles by bicycle as we ride through the 800,000 acre park home of over 1200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles and 75 species of mammals. Yes, Big Bend is larger than the State of Rhode Island.
  • Along the way be sure to take a picture of the smaller wonders of Big Bend, up close and personal.
  • We will bicycle by and see almost all the major areas of Big Bend National Park including the Chisos Mountains, the Chihuahua Desert, the Santiago Mountains and the Rio Grande and Santa Elena Rivers.
  • On your free day, take a soak in the pool and relax or ride the optional ride from Lost Mine Trail to Cottonwood General Store in Teralingua, Texas.
  • For the final day of riding, we cycle from the McDonald Observatory and Visitor Center in the Davis Mountains and ride down from the summit of the highest highway in Texas to Fort Davis taking in breathtaking views.
  • Unpack only one time as we stay at the same hotel for the entire bicycle tour.
 
Day 1, Saturday - February 27, 2021
 
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Welcome Dinner 
 
Our bike trip featuring Big Bend National Park begins in Alpine,Texas. Alpine is an oasis in the desert and known as the "Heart of Big Bend" in a nod to nearby Big Bend National Park - the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert ecology in the country. You will find the perfect spot for gorgeous photographs on your bicycle. Alpine is the home of the Sul Ross State University. Sul Ross State is a public university named for the Texas governor and civil War Confederate general Lawrence Sullivan Ross. The institution was made a university in 1969 that is governed by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System, which guides four universities, three community colleges and a technical college in the state. We meet at 4:30pm for the welcome meeting and dinner.
 
Dinner:
 
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Century Bar & Grill
In the heart of downtown Alpine, Texas the restaurant has greeted visitors coming from the rail line and beyond since 1928 -
Las Vegas, Nevada
 
Starter choices:
  • Bourbon Street Pasta - 8 oz Grilled Chicken, Three Shrimp and Andouille over Penne Pasta tossed in a Cajun Cream Sauce and served with a Garlic Bread stick.
  • Burger of the Century - 10 ounce Grilled Angus Patty on a Toasted Potato Bun with Romaine, Tomato, Pickled Red Onion, Horseradish Pickles, Mayo and/or Mustard on the Side.
  • Texas Rib Eye Focaccia Melt - 6oz of Rosemary Marinated Rib Eye, Provolone, Caramelized Onion, Grilled Portobello, Horseradish Cream and Grilled Bell Pepper on Focaccia, served with your choice of side.
  • Blackened Red Fish - Pan Seared Red Fish Fillet with a Creole Cream Sauce, Cajun Rice and a Side.
  • 12 oz Rib Eye - Grilled Rosemary and Garlic Ribeye with a Pasilla Blue Cheese Butter and Two Sides.
Lodging:
 
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Hampton Inn 
Alpine, Texas
(Stay at the same hotel for the entire trip)
  • Internet
  • Microwave
  • LED TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
Day 2, Sunday - February 28, 2021
 
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Persimmon Gap Visitor Center (Big Bend National Park Entrance) to Panther Junction
 
Introduce or reaquaint yourself with Big Bend National Park - it is Texas’ best kept secret! This park has an amazing mix of rugged Chisos Mountains, which is the center of the mountain highlands of Big Bend as well as the Chihuahua Desert. Chihuahua Desert is the largest desert in North America covering 200,000+ square miles. We begin our journey at Persimmon Gap with beautiful views of the Santiago Mountains and Santiago Peak. These were used as lookouts by the Apache Indians. Persimmon Gap was once used by raiding Native Americans following the Comanche Trail toward Mexico. The mountains cover a segment of the southern Rocky Mountains, extending southeastward. Big Bend was established as a national park in June of 1935, preserving the largest tracts of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. We will also ride by the open-air Big Bend Fossil Discovery Exhibit, including the site of a new species of duck-billed dinosaur that were just identified in 2019.
 
Breakfast provided by the hotel each morning.
 
Bicycling Route: 0 miles, staying at the hotel; or 18 miles, riding to the Big Bend Fossil Discover Exhibit; or 26 miles continuing all the way to Panther Junction. [The ride to the Fossil Discovery Exhibit is basically flat. The ride from the Fossil Discovery Exhibit to Panther Junction is a slight uphill, rising a little over 1000 ft in 9 miles.]
 
Lodging:
 
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Hampton Inn 
Alpine, Texas
(Stay at the same hotel for the entire trip)
  • Internet
  • Microwave
  • LED TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
Dinner:
 
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El Patio
Alpine, Texas
 
Entrée Choices:
  • Fajitas - chicken or steak grilled onions and bell peppers served with a sour cream guacamole, pico de gallo, rice and beans
  • Enchilas Plates - Red or Green Chicken Eniladas with rice and beans
  • Combination Plates - Choose from Enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and chile rellenos
  • Taco Plates - chicken or beef with all the toppings with rice and beans
Day 3, Monday - March 1, 2021
 
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Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village
 
Today’s ride begins at Panther Junction Park Headquarters/Visitors Center and ends at Rio Grande Village after 20 beautiful miles by bicycle. Along the way, you will take in stunning views of Dugout Wells picnic area (bathrooms).  You will see the beautiful windmill, which is still in operation. Bicycling in this area is allowed. Obey traffic laws and take proper measures to stay safe, wearing bright and/or reflective clothing. Bicycling allows you to see and hear some of the smaller wonders of Big Bend up close and personal from behind your handlebars. 
Breakfast provided by the hotel each morning
 
Bicycling Route: 0 miles, staying at the hotel; 21 miles, riding from Panther Junction to the Rio Grande River. [The route is a long gentle continuous downhill, falling 2000ft over 21 miles]
 
Dinner:
On your own
 
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Big Bend Brewing located a block from the hotel.
 
Lodging:
 
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Hampton Inn 
Alpine, Texas
(Stay at the same hotel for the entire trip)
  • Internet
  • Microwave
  • LED TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
Day 4, Tuesday - March 2, 2021
 
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Sotol Vista Overlook to Santa Elna Canyon River
 
The bike ride today is Mother Nature at her finest!! Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive begins today’s spectacular journey with a beautiful bike ride from breathtaking Sotol Vista Overlook to Mule Ears. The Sotol plants flourish here and have an interesting history. The quality of the road is excellent and the bike ride is smooth, paved and very easy to follow. You will have many pullovers for photo ops with a nice blend of desert beauty (our favorite picture was Mule Ears peaks) and mountains (our favorite was the Chisos Mountains) in the distance. When we arrive on your bicycle at Santa Elena Canyon, we will see that it serves as a backdrop for the view of the Chihuahua Desert! Beauty everywhere!
 
Breakfast provided by the hotel each morning.
 
Bicycling Route: 0 miles, staying at the hotel; or 21 miles, riding from Sotol Vista Overlook to the Santa Elena Canyon River; or 26 miles, continuing onto the Santa Elena Trailhead and back.  [The route is a gradual downhill for the first 11 miles and then is basically flat for the remainder of the ride.]
 
Lodging:
 
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Hampton Inn 
Alpine, Texas
(Stay at the same hotel for the entire trip)
  • Internet
  • Microwave
  • LED TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
Dinner:
On your own
 
Day 5, Wednesday - March 3, 2021
 
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Free Day or Lost Mine Trail to Cottonwood General Store in Terlingua, Texas
 
Cottonwood General Store in Terlingua, a ghost town famous for its annual chili festival and its residents. It offers stunning scenery, which includes a historic cemetery and many abandoned adobe structures. The Lost Mine trail features beautiful wild flowers and the trail is perfect if you want spectacular views. It offers an outstanding illustration to the flora and fauna of the Chisos mountains. The joys of Big Bend come up on the every top 10 list. Get there before 9am if you want parking. Don’t miss out - the views are amazing!
 
Breakfast provided by the hotel each morning
 
Bicycling Route: Free Day or 0 miles, staying at the hotel; or 25 miles, riding from Lost Mine Trail to Terlingua. [The route is primarily downhill with a few minor climbs; overall falling 3500 ft over the route.]
 
Lodging:
 
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Hampton Inn 
Alpine, Texas
(Stay at the same hotel for the entire trip)
  • Internet
  • Microwave
  • LED TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
Day 6, Thursday - March 4, 2021
 
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McDonald Observatory Visitor Center & Fort Davis Scenic Loop
 
Cyclists take on the Davis Mountains (outside Fort Davis) route to experience breathtaking views and thrilling descents. Today we will ride from the highest road in Texas which is adjacent to the world class McDonald Observatory that in January 2020 found the first Earth-size planet in a star's habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. We then end the day in Fort Davis. The region is said to be the most stunning scenery in all of Texas, earning the region the well-deserved nickname of The Texas Alps. Traffic is virtually nonexistent, and any drivers around swing wide to give cyclists lots of space. Take in the beautiful wildlife and enjoy your ride.   
 
Breakfast provided by the hotel each morning.
 
Bicycling Route: 0 miles, staying at the hotel; or 17 miles, riding from the Observatory Visitors Center to Fort Davis or 21 miles, climbing up from the McDonalds Visitors Center to the two Observatories. [The route from the McDonald Visitor Center to Fort Davis is a gradual descent falling 1500 feet. For the optional steep climbing: the ascent is about 1500 feet over just about two miles.]
 
Lodging:
 
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Hampton Inn 
Alpine, Texas
(Stay at the same hotel for the entire trip)
  • Internet
  • Microwave
  • LED TV
  • Hairdryer
  • Fitness Center
  • Swimming Pool
Dinner:
 
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Reata: Legendary. Texas. Cusine.
- "Reata Alpine remains a true destination restaurant" -
Alpine, Texas
 
Entrée Choices:
  • Pan-Seared Pepper Crested Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce
  • Seasonal Penne Pasta with choice of Grilled Chicken Breast or Jumbo Shrimp.
  • Carne Asada topped with Reatas Cheese Enchiladas.
  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas with Rice and Beans.
  • Reatas Chicken Fried Steak with Cracked Pepper Cream Gravy.
  • Martha’s Vegetable Plate.
  • CF Burger with aged Cheddar Cheese on a Kaiser Roll.
Day 7, Friday - March 5, 2021
 
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On the way out of town, make one last stop at Steph's Donut Hole, which reportedly has some of the best doughnuts in Texas! (We can neither confirm nor deny how wonderful they are!)
 
Breakfast provided by hotel each morning
 
 

Please note all trip information is based on previous trips and/or contracted lodging and restaurants and is subject to change based on availability or specific trip needs.
 
Riding difficulty:
  • Riders who are comfortable riding at least 10 miles per hour should have an enjoyable trip. The routes are primarily on low traveled, designated bike routes. Please see the daily routes descriptions for additional information. Of course, if a rider is tired or does not feel like riding, the SAG vehicle will transport the rider. All riders may ride at their own pace, slow or fast or anything in-between. 
Arriving by Automobile:
  • Drive to the starting hotel: Hampton Inn Alpine, 2607 West Highway 90, Alpine, Texas 79830; leaving your car at the starting hotel for the duration of the trip. Parking is free at the hotel.
Arriving by Plane:
  • Fly directly in Midland Intational Airport and Space Port, Texas (MAF) and then rent a car, driving 2 1/2 hours to trip start; or fly directly into El Paso International Airport, Texas (ELP) and then rent a car, driving 3 hours to trip start; or fly directly into San Antonio International Airport, Texas (SAT) and then rent a car, driving 5 1/2 hours to trip start.
Arriving by Train:
  • For a little more adventure take a train into town where Southern Pacific started service in 1882. Of course, Alpine is now serviced by AMTRAK at the Alpine, Texas (ALP) train station in the heart of downtown.
Deposit:
  • $200 to reserve your spot and the remainder due 45 days before the trip start.
What is Included:
  • Hotel lodging
  • Ride packets, including maps & cue sheets (directions)
  • Fully sagged, including ride leaders, luggage transport, SAG vehicle transportation and rider assistance
  • Breakfast each morning
  • Dinner with the group three evenings (see above)
  • Great riding, scenery, fun and enjoyment!
Bicycles:
  • Most participants bring their own bicycles
  • To ship your bike, we would suggest using shipbikes.com or bikeflight.com for shipping. To ship your bike to the hotel:  Hampton Inn Alpine, 2607 West Highway 90, Alpine, Texas 79830
  • If you fly, most major airlines including Delta, American, United and Alaska Air now waive the oversize fee for bicycles (sporting equipment) and just the standard luggage fee applies. Please contact your airline for all the details.
Weather in February/March in Big Bend National Park area:
  • Average High 77° 
  • Average Low 51°

 

Contact Information:

Vacation Bicycling, LLC
1860 Barnett Shoals Rd, Ste 103-514
Athens, GA 30605
Phone: 706-363-0341 or email your question on our short Contact Form
 
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Celebrating 12 years leading bicycle tours in the best of all 50 states, where will you go next?
 
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