The road from Terlingua to Presidio is Scenic Highway 170, one of the most stunning roads in Texas. Terlingua is a ghost town a short drive away from Big Bend National Park. It used to be a mining town but when the mine shut most people disappeared. Now it functions as a stop-off point for road-trippers like myself and you!
This article is part of a series – read the first post about Driving Around Texas here
Once you’ve looked around in Terlingua, take the River Road in Texas, as some people call it, past some impressive hills and through beautiful valleys to Presidio. Most drivers don’t stop until Marfa, but if you are leaving Big Bend National Park and don’t want to stay in Terlingua, then at least you should stop in Presidio.
Presidio in Texas is a comfortable drive away from Big Bend National Park and Terlingua. The spring sunshine brings out the flowers that line both sides of the road, including Texas’s “national” flower the Bluebell. The Bluebells turn the countryside purple in March and April, so driving along scenic byway 170 should be top of your list.
Highway 170 from Terlingua and Stude-Butte
Highway 170, or the River Road, took me through Terlingua and Stude-Butte. Terlingua is basically a place where RV drivers and other holiday makers stop for the night or a week. The River Road more of less follows the Mexican border and there was a checkpoint halfway to Presidio. This was a military sort of checkpoint – the typical stuff from the movies. There were German shepherds, border guards and the lot! It took me by surprise to see all this, but the lady was very nice. She said she liked my car so I was through pretty quick! The things that a Mustang gets you in Texas!
Driving Through Big Bend Ranch Park Nature Reserve
Big Bend Ranch Park is a 311,000-acre state park located on the Rio Grande in Brewster and Presidio Counties. The road that crosses the park is one of the most scenic drives I’ve every seen. The road follows the curves of the hills, goes down into the valleys and along a river with bluebells and various other flowers carpeting the roadside.
Highway 170 late in the afternoon was very quiet and I even managed to catch a glimpse of the sunset. I took this amazing photo of the bonnet below just as the sun was about to set.
I was very lucky as I was able to see the most beautiful sections of the Big Bend Ranch Park nature reserve right before sunset. The sunset in itself was spectacular – probably the best I’d seen in Texas. I took some more photos of the Mustang’s hood with the sunset’s reflection on it then I put the pedal to the metal!
After the sunset I put the pedal to the metal and headed off to Presidio. It was a pretty straight road, with some bumps along the way. Apart from me there was hardly anybody else on the road except for a couple of border patrols so it was smooth sailing all the way.
The Presidio RV Park in Texas
I arrived in Presidio, TX in the dark and started to look for a place to stay. My original plan was to sleep in Marfa and check out the famous Marfa Lights but by the time I got to Presidio I was just exhausted. I really needed a good night’s sleep after the long track on the Marufo Vega Trail so I began a search online for a room.
Unfortunately I didn’t like the look of anything but I didn’t want to sleep in a car park near the Mexican/US border either. I then went online to look for a Motel 6 but there wasn’t one nearby. Luckily I found an RV Park and since I’ve never stayed in one I booked myself in. I’ve always dreamed of spending a night in an RV anyway. I picked DASP RV Park on the side of the road to Marfa, just north of Presidio.
A very nice couple runs the RV Park and I would highly recommend it for a short or long stay. As I was checking in the owner and I started talking about Bolivia. He asked me what I thought about Bolivians and when I said it was a beautiful place and that I loved Rurrenabaque, he told me his wife was from there too! The owner then gave me the keys to the RV and we drove there together to drop my bags off. He then invited me for dinner in their house. A photo of my RV is below, a typical 1960’s style machine.
Related: Del Rio in Texas
The RV had a kitchen, shower, living room and bedroom with a TV. After dinner I got back and had a shower but I was so tired I had to force myself to tidy up the car. I also repacked my rucksack and went to bed straight away.
The views of Presidio were pretty amazing from the RV park, which sat on top of an elevation. The town is in the valley and it was swimming in light at night, looking a little bit like LA from Mount Wilson.
Leon, The RV Enthusiast
In the morning I went to take some photos of the surrounding area and Presidio. There was a guy with his wife doing the same, so we started chatting. Just as I was taking a photo he asked me if I was taking a panoramic image.
Leon and I started chatting about the drive between Terlingua and Presidio and where they were from and so on. They had a massive 28 tonne RV. We started talking about fuel consumption, the water and fuel tank in the RV and that they were pulling their own Jeep after the RV. Leon said they always tow their own car so they can drive around the area easier.
What they normally do is drive from their home near Austin, Texas to places like the Big Bend National Park or Colorado each year. They pack up once a quarter and spend a few weeks away in their RV. Their fuel tank capacity in their RV was 150 gallons, enough for a return trip from Austin to Big Bend National Park with a little leftover!
The water tank in their RV was also 150 gallons and they had their own waste tank too, so they didn’t even need to hook up. The whole point of an RV park is to hook the RV to the mains, allowing for some more convenience. That way they consume less fuel and can use the water from the park. So it’s more convenient in an RV park but if need to they can use their own system.
Towing an Automatic Car
We also talked about his Jeep being automatic. I asked how he pulled it without lifting the front wheel? I said it must be difficult to haul it around as I thought he needed some special equipment to tow automatic cars. Turns out there is a switch in it which he can turn on or off during towing/driving. He invited me for breakfast with them – which was just perfect because I was super hungry by then!
Turned out he was also a pilot and had his own plane – parked inside his house! They lived with 30 other flying enthusiast along their own private landing strip, which I just found unbelievable. Basically, their house was right next to the airstrip, along with their 29 neighbors. When they felt like flying they just needed to drive their plane out of the house and fly off! That’s what I call living a good life! He gave me this photo of the house on the left.
We shared a few more photos during breakfast and then discussed our separate house building projects. We had so many things in common! He built his own house just like myself – he was very surprised to find out I just finished my own!
Unfortunately I had to get going because my flight was in three days so after breakfast I headed off to Marfa – but that’s another story!