Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day Nine at Big Bend: The River Road from Lajitas to Redford

Today we took a very leisurely drive on The River Road (FM 170) -- a distance of 37 miles (one way) from Lajitas to Redford.   Although it is a public highway, almost all of that drive is within Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Therefore, parking for hikes, etc. requires a day pass from the State Park.  We picked up our pass at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center at 8:00 a.m.   (Two days earlier we had spent a couple of hours here visiting their fascinating exhibits.)

Barton Warnock Visitor Center
Big Bend Ranch State Park (Texas)

After leaving the Visitor Center, we drove through the little town of Lajitas and entered the State Park where we were immediately amazed by spectacular views.

Our first stop was at the "Contrabando Movie Set" -- a small village or rancheria constructed in 1985 as a set for the border-western comedy "Uphill All the Way" starring Roy Clark, Mel Tillis, and Burl Ives.

Since "Uphill All the Way" nine different movies have been made on this set and later buildings constructed at this location.

The Rio Grande River is between the movie set and the mountains.

Looking toward the river
Some additional movies filmed here include:
1993 -- Rio Diablo
1994 -- Gambler V: Playing for Keeps
1995 -- Streets of Laredo
1995 -- My Maria (1996 Music Video of the Year)
1996 -- Dead Man's Walk
2000 -- The Journey Man

On set!

What a setting for a movie!

 Traveling on toward Redford we just could not stop taking photos!

The Rio Grande River.

At one point the River Road (FM 170) makes a very steep climb (15% grade) with unbelievable views from the top looking toward the river below.

Looking east from the top.

Looking westward from the top.

Looking back toward the spot where the previous photo
was taken at a pull-off just below the peak.  The Rio Grande
runs through a canyon just to the right of the peak in this photo.

Our next stop included a hike in "Closed Canyon."  At one point the walls of Closed Canyon are as high as a fifteen story building.




Flowers clinging to the wall of Closed Canyon.

A Hoodoo is described as tall skinny spires of rock that protrude
from the bottom of arid basins and "broken" lands.

The great views go on and on.



The Texas flag is a reminder that we are in
Great Bend Ranch State Park --
a State of Texas Park west of the National Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park is Texas’ largest
Texas state park, at over 300,000 acres.

Just a stone’s throw from Mexico to the south, Big Bend Ranch
State Park is in an area so remote and rugged that it has
been called El Despoblado, or “The Uninhabited.”

The River Road is a favorite for motorcycle rides.

We saw only one Border Patrol vehicle all day.
The bottom sign sounds quite threatening, however.

One of several river access points for boaters
in the State Park.

As we returned to Lajitas we saw views that we had missed
on the way toward Redford.

At the restaurant where we ate dinner this evening our server said that the drive from Lajitas to Redford was his second most favorite drive in all of North America.   Many other bloggers have said that the Lajitas to Redford drive is one of their favorites.   We definitely agree.  We recommend that anybody visiting Big Bend National Park would also set aside an entire day for the drive from Lajitas to Redford and back.