BIG BEND Ranch State Park
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The Barton Warnock Visitor Center , located just east of Lajitas , provides permits , maps and sage advice from park rangers to visitors . For casual adventurers , there are many short hikes and informational guides along Highway 170 , and park signage clearly marks trailheads . Known as the River Road , the drive from Lajitas to Presidio alone is worth a day trip , as the winding highway follows the Rio Grande and provides stunning views and many roadside viewing points . Short hikes along the way provide glimpses of the fascinating geological history of the area .
The Hoodoos trail , a short jaunt with a fabulous view of highly eroded volcanic tuff formations , is one of two trails in the park that allows leashed dogs . The other , Closed Canyon , allows visitors to explore a narrow slit canyon . At 1.4 miles round trip , it ’ s a perfect introduction to the area . Visitors must be cautious , however ; if there is a chance of rain , even outside the immediate area , the canyon is prone to dangerous fl ash fl ooding .
Fort Leaton State Historic Site , just outside Presidio , is one of the gems of the State Park . The site has been occupied since the late 1600s , when the Spanish were attempting to establish presidios ( forts ) along the Rio Grande . The vast adobe structure was a private residence built to house a small handful of families , and dates back to the early 1800s . It later became the original county seat of Presidio County . For a fi ve dollar entrance fee ( free with a State Park permit ), visitors can tour the beautifully preserved and restored 23 acre site and see how life was lived on the frontier . A small visitor ’ s center and gift shop provides current park conditions for visitors beginning their adventure from the west side .
Summer temperatures on the Rio Grande can soar well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit , and careful planning and caution are necessary for a pleasant trip to the State Park . Permits are required for all camping , horseback riding and river trips , and it ’ s always wise to talk to a ranger about your plans to get the most up-do-date information on road and weather conditions . One gallon of water per person , per day is the standard minimum for hiking in the Big Bend but may not be adequate for advanced hikes . The State Park and the river road sometimes see sudden , extreme fl ooding from desert storms ; the many arroyos that cross the roads can wash away a vehicle in only six inches of water . If in doubt during a park adventure , it ’ s always best to err on the side of caution . As with all state parks , the collection of plants , animals and artifacts is strictly forbidden . Take only pictures , and make lots of memories !