Big Bend Conservancy
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This viewing station is at the La Cuesta river access on the West side of Santana Mesa, aka the Big Hill. FM 170 is paved from Lajitas to Presidio, though the hill can be challenging for older engines and vehicles with heavy loads. The viewing station is part of the park, so make sure and get a permit at either Barton Warnock Visitor Center or at Fort Leaton State Historic Site on your way.
"Does this mean high clearance?" - Not necessarily. I have seen all sorts of sedans and small cars make it just fine. What it means is that you go slow and use your best judgement regarding both the road and the weather. An Uplander should be fine.BTW, if you are looking for bird shots, get an early AM stop at Ojito Adentro. There is a nice little riparian area accessible by a short hike that should not disappoint.
Randomly enough, one of the best birding spots in the area is the cooling pond at Lajitas Resort. The water comes out of the well so hot that it has to be cooled before it can be treated, so a lush riparian area has developed around the pool and it attracts lots of migrating birds on their way through the region.
This quote is on the Ranch website "The Sauceda Ranger Station is 27 miles of rugged, dirt road from FM 170. This is the only way in or out of the interior of the park." Does this mean high clearance? Since it's been a day or two since I last walked the halls of higher education, I checked the definition of rugged, "(of ground or terrain) having a broken, rocky, and uneven surface" which makes me think maybe not, but borderline. I don't consider my Uplander high clearance, but it's not a go cart either. Has anyone ventured that road with something less than ideal?
I remember that road not needing 4X4 or anything, it's just washboarded-rough and will shake the color off your truck. I also remember someone on here giving me a tip. About 7 miles from the park entrance start watching for the canyon walls to start closing in (Bofecillos Canyon), you'll cross a small creek bed if I remember. There's a little pull off and if you walk back a short ways, there's some nice sites along the cliff. My son and I had a good time in the shade of the overhang studying the art.
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