Riding horseback is a great way to explore almost 300,000 acres of the Chihuahuan Desert landscape, in Texas' largest and most remote state park. Big Bend Ranch offers approximately 238 miles of multiuse trails that are suitable for horses. Equestrian activities are also allowed in backcountry areas unless specifically excluded.
Bring Your Own Horse
Visitors are welcome to bring their own horses to the park. There is an equestrian fee of $2 per horse per day, in addition to other park fees. All users must obtain a backcountry use permit for day use or overnight. Equestrians must bring their own weed-free horse feed. All horses must have documentation of a current Coggins test. This rugged country is hard on horses and horseshoes, so make sure that you and your horse are physically fit. Call the park ahead of time to inquire about the availabilty of water for your horse while on the trail.
Six equestrian-oriented campsites are available, most of which offer corrals and water:
Agua Adentro Pens is located along Camino a la Sauceda, the 2WD main road that accesses the park. The site consists of three large shade shelters, several livestock pens with an active water trough, three fire rings, picnic tables, and a dry, vault toilet. The area is so large that it easy to move any horse or travel trailer around to make camp more comfortable. Located in the west-central part of the park, the site offers unlimited access to miles and miles of ranch roads and trails to explore.
Escondido Pens is located near Sauceda Ranger Station and is approximately 2 miles off of the main park road on a 2WD high clearance road. The site consists of woven wire pens, an active, spring-fed water source, two shade ramadas, picnic tables, a dry, vault toilet and two fire rings. The upper Leyva watershed and its many wonderful features are easily accessed from this campsite.
Fresno Canyon Campsite, located in the bottom of Fresno Canyon, is accessible by 4WD road. No horse trailers are allowed. It is necessary to ride saddle stock to the campsite, but camping gear can be hauled in with a 4WD vehicle. The site consists of 2 hitch rails, 2 picnic tables, and 2 fire rings. No holding pens are available. Seasonal water may be located approximately ¼ mile from the campsite where livestock can be watered; otherwise, plan to carry in water for your horses. The grandeur of the west side of the Solitario and the historic Fresno Canyon are at your tent’s doorstep.
Jackson Pens is located on the rugged 2WD high-clearance road that accesses the Solitario area. Check with the park beforehand before attempting to drive your trailer down this road. The site consists of woven wire pens, an active water trough, a fire ring and picnic tables. From here, one can ride into the collapsed volcanic caldera of the world-famous Solitario.
Javelin Pens is located on the rugged 2WD high-clearance road known as the Madrid Road. Pulling a horse trailer is not recommended. The site has the remains of pump jacks and other ranching artifacts, and an operating well. The site also consists of woven wire pens, 2 picnic tables, and a fire ring. Non-potable water is available. The Rancherias trail and the heads of several canyons are convenient to the pens.
- There is an equestrian fee of $2 per horse per day.
- Fires may be built in fire rings only, and the collection of fire wood is prohibited. Firewood should be hauled in or purchased at Sauceda.
- Be sure to bring drinking water. Potable water is not available at any campsites; all water must be treated.
- Water for your horse is available at all campsites except for Fresno Canyon.
- Check with park staff about the availability of water for horses while on the trail.
- Big Bend Ranch State Park is about as remote as you can get and the park store at the Sauceda Ranger Station has limited inventory, If you think you need it – bring it!
- This country is hard on horses and horseshoes. Make sure your horses are fit and that you have spare shoeing equipment.
- Information on commercially guided tours and outfitters.