June 23, 2014
This is the epitome of west Texas desert riding - you are in the middle of nowhere with views for miles and you love it! The riding overall isn't mind blowing, however the state of mind I found myself in while traversing this amazing landscape left nothing to be desired. In my opinion, you make the trek to this far away corner of Texas for the overall experience - isolation, history, scenery, ambiance & tranquility the desert offers...the riding is a bonus!
The majority of the riding is done on rarely used jeep roads but there are plenty of dried up river beds you'll find yourself in & some parts of the park has plenty of singletrack. These singletrack sections are found closer to the highway and they are excellent - designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. They made great use of the terrain & I consider these sections the cream of the crop as far as the riding is concerned. Personal favorite is the Chimney Rock cutoff but I recommend hitting all the singletrack on the way in & on the way out...it's like getting to ride 2 trails! Some flow better in 1 direction vs the other but they are all rideable either way.
An awesome loop that most everyone with any mountain bike experience should be able to complete and enjoy is the Contrabando Dome Loop. This is an amazing ride around, you might have guessed it, a huge dome. There are some nice climbs, great descents, a ton of amazing views & you'll pass several historical sites including a couple ruins of old rock cabins. If you're looking for a couple hours long ride this is the best bang for your buck.
There are literally thousands of different options for how you could route a ride through this vast landscape. I haven't even scratched the surface of what there is to offer out there. The shear scale of the place makes a lot of what's doable for a ride dependent on where you're staying. I've always stayed down the road in Lajitas at the RV park during the Chihuahuan Desert Dirt Fest in February. From here to get to the far ends of the park you're looking at a 50 mile day minimum...but don't let that scare you - there are desert oasis, petroglyphs, historic ruins, mine shafts & countless forms of geographic eye candy to keep you busy for many, many trips to this amazing park.