Alpine, TEXAS 22 AlpineTexasGuide.com Outdoor activities Hiking and Camping Big Bend National Park, Davis Mountains State Park. Big Bend Ranch State Park, Davis Mountains Preserve oﬀer hiking, camping and backpacking. The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botan- ical Gardens near Fort Davis has four miles of hiking trails, a botanical garden, and a cactus and succulent greenhouse containing one of the largest Chihuahuan Desert cactus collections in the world. Biking The region oﬀers some of the most scenic bicycle touring routes and challenging oﬀ road biking trails in Texas. Plan your own adven- ture or consult with a local guide, outfitter or ranger. Motorcycling The Big Bend region includes two of the most scenic motorcycle touring routes in Texas: the 75-mile Davis Mountains scenic loop, which follows TX 118 and TX 166; and FM 170, which parallels the Rio Grande as it weaves between Terlingua and Presidio. Bird-Watching Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the Big Bend region of the Chihuahuan Desert. Popular birding sites are Davis Mountains State Park, Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and the Post Park, south of Marathon. Jeep Tours Several area outfitters can provide an unforgettable experience of breathtaking scenery, adventurous touring, wildlife viewing, and his- tory. Rock Hounding The region is famous for its beautiful agate and jasper. Collecting at road cuts is legal; collecting on parkland is prohibited. Collecting on private land requires the owner’s permission. River Rafting and Canoeing The Rio Grande is popular for rafting and canoeing. River guides are available through outfitters in Terlingua and Study Butte. Star Gazing The night skies of the Big Bend region are among the darkest in the nation. Attend a Star Party at McDonald Observatory, or step out- side anywhere and witness a spectacular heavenly display. REGIONAL PARKS Balmorhea State Park tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/balmorhea 56 miles north on TX 118 & TX 17 Swim, scuba dive or just relax at this oasis in the high desert. Enjoy the cool, crystal-clear spring-fed waters of this large outdoor pool. Camping, picnic facilities, cabins and restored desert wetlands. Cur- rently closed for renovations - check website for details. Big Bend National Park www.nps.gov/bibe 108 miles south on TX 118 to Park Headquarters at Panther Junction. At over 800,000 acres, Big Bend National Park is the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the U.S. The Park is known as “Three Parks in One”, with towering mountain, vast desert and thriving riparian environments, all sit- uated along the “big bend” of the Rio Grande. Big Bend Ranch State Park www.tpwd.state.tx.us 102 miles south and west on TX 118 and FM 170 This is the largest state park in Texas with 300,000 acres of rugged and remote Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande. The Barton Warnock Center on FM 170 just east of Lajitas serves as the park’s eastern visitor center; stop there for information.