A West Texas Motorbike Journey By means of Hill Nation, Large Bend, and Oil Wells


West Texas Motorcycle Ride Big Bend National Park
Bending although curves in Large Bend.

The seeds of this West Texas bike trip had been planted in December 2019 when my buddy Reed and I joined the EagleRider Membership. Members pay month-to-month subscription charges for credit towards bike leases, which roll over month to month and supply vital reductions versus standalone leases.

Along with the reductions, being membership members permits us to fly into a brand new space and hire bikes which can be completely different from what we trip again dwelling. We reside in Connecticut, so flying into Dallas saved us a 3,200-mile roundtrip that may have taken a number of days on every finish. As an alternative of grinding out miles simply to get to Texas and again dwelling, we spent that point leisurely exploring roads and sights.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride

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To beat the warmth of the Texas summer time, we deliberate our journey for mid-April. Reed and I are BMW riders, however for this journey we rented two late-model Harley-Davidsons: a Road Glide for me and a Heritage Softail Basic for him. There’s one thing particular about using the open street on a giant American V-Twin. We’re older guys who had been decked out in textile using gear and modular helmets, so we’re hardly Simple Rider rebels. Once we noticed a BMW GS in a resort car parking zone with “Journey Earlier than Dementure” on certainly one of its panniers, we might relate.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride
Phrases to reside by.

See all of Rider‘s Harley-Davidson protection right here.

We did a clockwise loop of roughly 2,300 miles over 9 days. From Dallas, we headed south to Texas’ funky state capital, Austin. The Harleys had been steady and cozy, the torque was intoxicating, and the horns had been good and loud, however the transmissions had been a bit clunky. After visiting the Texas Capitol, we rode east to Spherical Prime, a small vacationer city recognized for antiques. We had been disenchanted to seek out the vintage markets closed once we acquired there, however I managed to get a photograph with a roadrunner as tall as I’m – issues actually are larger in Texas!

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Harley-Davidson Street Glide Heritage Softail Classic
West Texas is extensive open.

The using improved west of Austin once we entered the legendary Texas Hill Nation, an space well-known amongst motorcyclists. Countless hills flip the various rural FM (Farm-to-Market) and RM (Ranch-to-Market) roads into paved rollercoasters. We loved good twisties, gentle visitors, and fairly views alongside the shore of Lake Travis and thru Inks Lake State Park. After using via Llano, we dropped the sidestands and stretched our legs at Enchanted Rock State Pure Space. In Fredericksburg, an enthralling historic city surrounded by vineyards, we ate sausages and loved reside music throughout a courtyard dinner at a German restaurant. 

Lower than an hour from Fredericksburg and west of Medina, we rode the famend Twisted Sisters. The three RM roads (335, 336, and 337) are stuffed with enjoyable curves and whoop-de-doos and are worthy of their repute. The Twisted Sisters are so widespread amongst motorcyclists that there are two-wheeled vacationer stops within the space, just like the Lone Star Motorbike Museum in Vanderpool and the Frio Canyon Motorbike Cease and The Hog Pen in Leakey. We handed many ranches; two of my favourite names had been Large Bucks Ranch and Center Age Unfold.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Hill Country Twisted Sisters
Having fun with rolling curves via Texas Hill Nation, dwelling of the well-known Twisted Sisters.

After an evening in Del Rio, we adopted U.S. Route 90 west alongside the southwestern border of the Texas Pecos Path area and inside a stone’s throw of the Rio Grande. Though our bikes had the identical 107 engines, the Softail’s tank holds 5 gallons whereas the Road Glide’s holds 6 gallons. That 1-gallon distinction turned evident once we hit an 86-mile stretch with no companies pondering we had sufficient fuel. We had been fallacious.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
Reed loved using his rented Harley-Davidson Heritage Basic.

Decreasing velocity and tucking in behind the windshield for the final 20 miles did the trick, however headwinds meant the Softail was working on fumes once we pulled into Sanderson. On the fuel station, a girl with a ’50s-style bouffant instructed us that pickle juice is sweet for combating dehydration. We had been intrigued, however we questioned if she was having enjoyable on the expense of us Yankees.

See all of Rider‘s touring tales right here.

At Marathon, we turned south towards our subsequent vacation spot: Large Bend Nationwide Park. Located in a pocket of West Texas the place the Rio Grande’s southeasterly course makes a pointy bend to the north, Large Bend is big, protecting greater than 801,163 acres (1,252 sq. miles), making it the seventh largest nationwide park exterior of Alaska. In 1976, Large Bend was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It comprises the most important intact portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, probably the most biologically wealthy and numerous desert ecosystems on the planet.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Big Bend National Park
Positioned in West Texas the place the Rio Grande turns sharply to the north, Large Bend Nationwide Park protects a part of the Chihuahuan Desert.

As a result of Large Bend is way from main cities and the 118 miles of the Rio Grande alongside its southern boundary serves because the border between the U.S. and Mexico, it receives comparatively few guests in comparison with different nationwide parks. That makes it the right vacation spot for many who love wide-open areas and don’t look after crowds.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride
Wildflowers had been blooming throughout our April trip.

That afternoon we loved Large Bend in all its glory. Mountain peaks topping 7,000 toes competed with colourful desert blooms for lovely surroundings. In Rio Grande Village, we discovered of a tramway system that transported lead and silver from Mexico throughout the Rio Grande to finally join with the railroad in Marathon. For migrants, crossing the Rio Grande would have been a matter of merely wading the low waters, however passing the Border Patrol checkpoint some miles inland (in open desert) is one other story.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride
The U.S.-Mexico border.

Highlights of Large Bend Nationwide Park embody the winding street as much as Chisos Basin, the Rio Grande Overlook, and Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which passes via Tuff Canyon on its approach to Santa Elena Canyon Overlook. Of the 304 miles of roads within the park, 123 miles are paved, 45 miles are unpaved however improved, and 136 miles are unpaved and primitive, so there are many miles to discover no matter your most well-liked floor – or bike. That mentioned, at our resort in Alpine, situated about 80 miles north of the park by way of State Route 118, one other visitor recounted how two Honda Africa Twins struggled in Large Bend’s sandy unpaved tracks, taking place so usually they gave up and had their bikes towed out.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Rio Grande Santa Elena Canyon
The Rio Grande’s Santa Elena Canyon.

After spending the morning at Fort Davis, a nationwide historic web site north of Alpine with a well-preserved advanced of buildings and customer middle, we launched into our most difficult trip of the journey. We headed south on State Route 17 to Marfa after which took U.S. Route 67 to Presidio. From there, we rode east on FM 170, often known as River Street. The 64 miles to Examine Butte-Terlingua wind alongside the Rio Grande via Large Bend Ranch State Park. Aside from the low water crossings, the street floor is mostly good – and the views are incredible – however riders want to remain frosty as a result of there are sudden elevation modifications, reducing radius and off-camber blind curves, and typically wildlife on the street.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Fort Davis
Fort Davis was a frontier army submit from 1854-1891.

After getting our fill of mountains, canyons, rivers, and memorable Rio Grande surroundings, we headed north via empty excessive desert to Fort Stockton, Odessa, Midland, and Lubbock, an space of Texas notable for the Permian Basin, an 86,000-square-mile space that’s dwelling to among the nation’s largest oil reserves. We rode for hours with oil wells scattered throughout the panorama in each path. To our shock, we additionally noticed dozens of huge wind generators towering above among the oil rigs, so some Texans are clearly hedging their bets. 

Simply south of Amarillo, we visited Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the place we took in expansive views of America’s second largest canyon, which is 120 miles lengthy, a mean of 6 miles extensive, and as much as 1,000 toes deep. The sprawling canyon was the topic of work by Georgia O’Keefe, who lived close by, and the positioning of a battle between Texas Rangers and Chief Kicking Wolf in Larry McMurtry’s novel Comanche Moon.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Palo Duro Canyon
Positioned close to Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in America.

Having accomplished a lot of our loop, we headed southeast towards Dallas. We took secondary roads via cities comparable to Turkey and Matador, the latter being the house of Bob’s Oil Properly, a vestige of the times when daring roadside structure attracted prospects – on this case a wood oil derrick towering above a fuel station.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride
Every little thing is greater in Texas. Phrases to reside by.

The skies darkened as we rode east, and in Crowell, a girl pulled over to inform us there have been tornados touching down close to our subsequent waypoint in Vernon. When an EMT reiterated the warning, we stayed put till the coast was clear. Once we lastly hit the street once more that night, it was a moist trip, however there was a lot lightning arcing throughout the clouds within the distance that we had loads of gentle to information us. Once we checked into our resort in Wichita Falls, we discovered they’d had heavy rain, wind, and golf ball-sized hail – one visitor had a damaged windshield to show it.

West Texas Motorcycle Ride Big Bend Ranch State Park
FM 170, often known as River Street, winds its means alongside the northern aspect of the Rio Grande between Presidio and Terlingua and varieties the southern boundary of Large Bend Ranch State Park.

On our final day, we blasted alongside state highways to Dallas, and for lengthy stretches, we loved explosions of shade from roadside wildflowers. Bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush had been considerable, and mid-April was the right time to see them. We all know higher than to mess with Texas, however we certain do admire all of the fantastic roads, sights, and sweetness we skilled within the Lone Star State. And thanks, EagleRider, for renting us the Harleys – they had been the right steeds for our journey.



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