Southeast of El Paso and east of Presidio in the Big Bend regions, the 280,000 acre Big Bend Ranch State Park has miles of trails. Embracing some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Southwest, this state park encompasses two mountain ranges containing ancient extinct volcanoes, precipitous canyons, and waterfalls. The 19-mile Rancherias Loop Trail is available for serious backpackers. Campsites are designated, water must be carried, and all wastes must be carried out. Trail heads are located at both ends of the loop trail along FM 170, near the Colorado Canyon River Access.
Several short trails are ideal for day-hikes are available. Rancherias Canyon (9.8 miles round-trip) and Closed Canyon (1.4 miles round-trip) trails are accessible from FM 170, near the Rancherias Loop trail head. Two short hiking trails are located off the gravel park road in the backcountry, leading to Ojito Adentro and Cinco Tinajas. Plans are being made for the first portion of the Ojito Adentro trail to be wheelchair accessible.
At this time, there is little development, but certain areas of the park have limited recreational use and vehicular access. Visitors must contact either Fort Leaton State Historical Park (4 miles east of Presidio on FM 170) or Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center (1 mile east of Lajitas on FM 170) to obtain permits, pay user fees.
The scenic drive along the River Road (Texas FM 170), following the meanders of the Rio Grande, is among the most spectacular in the nation. Vehicular traffic into the park interior is allowed on the 35-mile, well-maintained gravel park road and several miles of designated, 4-wheel-drive trails. Motor homes and large recreational vehicles may not be able to enter backcountry park areas.
Camping Areas are located at Madera (Monilla) Canyon and at Grassy Banks River Access along FM 170. Two group camping areas, Contrabando and Arenosa, have self-composting toilets. Ten (10) small, designated primitive campgrounds along the gravel park road in the backcountry are accessible to high-clearance vehicles only.