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Unread 04-03-2009, 10:19 PM   #1
mtb416
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Black Gap Road, Big Bend. How Difficult is it?

I want to go on a camping trip to Big Bend NP and was looking into the backcountry roads there. The NPS website seems to try to make the Black Gap road look pretty difficult to discourage a lot of people from trying it. Has anyone driven this road? How difficult is it assuming you have decent driving skills and conditions are dry? Would it be a bad idea to go out with one vehicle?

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Unread 04-04-2009, 07:46 PM   #2
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I did it when I was at 2" of lift and 235/75's open/open and had no problem. We ran into a ranger on the river road and said it wasn't too bad if you had all terrain tires.
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Unread 04-13-2009, 10:36 PM   #3
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I did last month...it has washed out some to due to the recent rains, but I did it "muddy" and had no problems...its very fun
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Unread 04-16-2009, 12:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by yoda13 View Post
I did last month...it has washed out some to due to the recent rains, but I did it "muddy" and had no problems...its very fun
Thanks. I am really looking forward to getting down there. It's amazing that I'm a lifelong Texan but have not yet seen Big Bend. Any specific tips or hints you can give me to ease my travel?
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Unread 04-16-2009, 09:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtb416 View Post
Thanks. I am really looking forward to getting down there. It's amazing that I'm a lifelong Texan but have not yet seen Big Bend. Any specific tips or hints you can give me to ease my travel?
That makes two of us, we're hoping to go end of June or maybe blistering July we don't know yet but it looks fun.
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Unread 04-17-2009, 11:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtb416 View Post
Thanks. I am really looking forward to getting down there. It's amazing that I'm a lifelong Texan but have not yet seen Big Bend. Any specific tips or hints you can give me to ease my travel?
Just watch for rain, the flash floods are bad, when it rains, but its not very often....

Black Gap is the best trail down there, but Old Ore is a ton of fun too, as is the Paint Gap Road if you follow it all the way out to the end...pretty rocky

You need to do the River Road from start to finish as well, just to say you've done it, but besides some soft sand, it is not bad at all, unless its rained...

Once you have seen all of the national park, if you want a day of really remote wheeling that is pretty difficult in areas, drive over to Big Bend Ranch State Park and check out some of their four wheel drive trails...Some of the trails are quite challenging, but be prepared for desert pinstriping if you go over there...

But the Black Gap and Old Ore are not to be missed and the Paint Gap is very fun...have a great time...
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Unread 04-17-2009, 11:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
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That makes two of us, we're hoping to go end of June or maybe blistering July we don't know yet but it looks fun.
Even by May it gets BLISTERING hot out there, so take plenty of water...but you should have the place much more to yourself than I usually do spring break....enjoy it and see the post I made for the other poster above us...
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Unread 04-27-2009, 09:34 AM   #8
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The NPS doesn't want to deal with people breaking down out there or having to maintain the road anymore so they try and discourage motorists from using the "trail". Plus there's a lot of stupid people in this world, and they're being overly cautious as they always are.

I was just out there last month, and it's in pretty rough shape. That said, it's something I would have done in my stock WJ without really worrying too much about it. Properly prepared, absolutely, but it's something "Guzzler" could have handled just fine. What differentiates this road from the others in the park is the Black Gap itself, a semi-steep rock cut just about a lane wide and if I remember correctly about 40 yards long that has a wash-out at the bottom. It's this bottom part that's the problem. Obviously. It's usually stacked with rocks, but it still can have a nasty break over angle. I'd definitely would make sure you have skid plates if you're riding at stock height in the WJ, but it should be very doable.

(I like taking, and subsequently posting pictures so please indulge me. Besides, pictures make a post better.)



It doesn't look too bad in this photo really, but at least you get an idea of what to expect. It's nothing compared to anything you'll find in, say, Colorado, but it's the worst part of the Back Country road system in Big Bend.

The other concern with the road are the washes, they can sometimes be pretty deep. It's nothing that you should have too much trouble with... as long as it's dry.



My friend's 4Runner at stock height and street tires. No problems for him, so you should be alright.

It's really not that bad of a road, but you'll probably be the only one on it. So be prepared. Flats can be common in the Park, so at least have a decent spare and probably even a tire patch kit and pump. It's at least a 12 miles walk back to the nearest pavement, so keep that in mind.

I stole this image from Big Bend Chat: (A good online resource)



I've been told that the easiest route is heading south to north and that's the direction I've taken it.

Don't let the term "Park Maintained" fool you, the back country roads are not your typical graded county affairs. They cant get a little rough. Nothing technical though, just some slow going and most are a single lane wide. So watch out for oncoming traffic at the corners.

About the other roads in the park I got to see last month:

Glenn Springs is really loose, decent sized rock in stretches, but your 4WD should make easy work of it. It's especially narrow in places and as with most of the back country roads you can probably expect a couple pinstripes from the roadside brush after traversing it.

Pine Canyon is rougher, but plenty solid. I could probably get a Honda up it. (Very carefully mind you - don't want to lose an oil pan)

Maverick is plenty wide at almost two lanes, but it's washboarded for most of it's length and populated with some stretches of rock. I've have taken a Honda down this road with little issue.

River Road East is nothing really to worry about, but River Road West was going to be reworked after the beating it took in last summer's flood. Doing the entire length would probably eat up almost all of your day.

I have not yet driven Old Ore Road (This was my third time to the park), but I hear that it too is an all day affair.

As advised on every pamphlet, map and website when it comes to these roads, check with the Rangers when you get to the park on their current conditions.

I'll add more to this response later, I need a coffee.

Last edited by Texas WJ; 04-27-2009 at 03:04 PM..
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Unread 04-27-2009, 11:54 PM   #9
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I did Old Ore in March, it is not all day, but plan a good 4-5 hours. I did the River Road West too, its not bad and I did Black Gap right after it on the same jaunt...not bad at all, did all of that in about 6 hours. I have been on Black Gap both ways, and its easier going from south to north out of the gap, but its easier between the Glenn Springs Road and the Black Gap itself if you are headed north to south...in all honesty, either way is fun, and if you aren't in rainy weather, you just need some decent breakover, approach, and departure angles....its a fun trail, but nothing like Colorado or Utah. However, the trails over at the state park are a different story...
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RIP Mrs. yoda13... My life is better for having had you in it and you made me a better man...I can't wait to see you again...I love you always and forever, and for all eternity


If you want to help the sport of off-roading, and protect your right to do so, please visit the Envirobeat
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Unread 04-29-2009, 11:15 PM   #10
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Thanks for the great info TexasWJ and Yoda. I have a BB with some larger tires, so I don't have much more clearance than stock, but it should be sufficient going off what you guys have said. So now that I feel confident in driving it the real problem is if I had a mechanical failure I guess. It'd be nice to go with another vehicle, but that's probably not an option given my time table. I'm an avid backpacker, so hiking out, while it would feel like hell on earth in the summer, is doable if something does indeed happen. Thanks again.

I know what you mean by guzzler, 13 mpg
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