Big Bend Chat

Big Bend Community => Places of Interest Surrounding the Park => Topic started by: ggowins on August 22, 2018, 11:43:56 AM

Title: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on August 22, 2018, 11:43:56 AM
Haven't seen any discussions recently on Chispa Road, either here or elsewhere on-line.   Does anyone here have current knowledge on the road?  I'm thinking about making a day trip when I'm in Fort Davis in a few weeks, combining this with Pinto Canyon Road to make a big loop. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: BlindWilly on August 22, 2018, 01:26:53 PM
That sounds like a fun excursion.  I was planning on heading down Pinto Canyon Rd this December when I visit with a group, but I couldn't find a good camp site (so far, anyways) near Marfa that will house my group. I might have to save that drive for the next time.
I didn't know about Chispa Road until now, so that could be fun to do what you plan on doing.

I think we will drop in from Marfa to Los Alamos camp on  169. The next day we plan on entering the NW side of BBRSP.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on August 24, 2018, 04:56:41 PM
Nice!  I've got to get to BBRSP.  Been meaning to, but haven't made the trip.

It is tough getting any kind of recent info on Chispa Road.  I have USGS quads showing the road, but no word on if any locked gates have suddenly appeared or if there are any known detours that have to be made.    The usual online map suspects (Google, OpenStreetMap, Mapquest) aren't much of a help at all.  They seem to show it ok on the north end of the road, but lose it after the county line heading towards Candelaria.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: presidio on August 24, 2018, 06:27:39 PM
It is tough getting any kind of recent info on Chispa Road.  I have USGS quads showing the road, but no word on if any locked gates have suddenly appeared or if there are any known detours that have to be made.    The usual online map suspects (Google, OpenStreetMap, Mapquest) aren't much of a help at all.  They seem to show it ok on the north end of the road, but lose it after the county line heading towards Candelaria.

Ah, this is where being an adventurer comes in.

Be an explorer, not a follower.

Can't get info? Don't worry about it. Gas up, carry adequate supplies, and go find out for yourself firsthand.

Worst that can happen is you have to backtrack.

I've never been on this road, but I'll hazard a guess that being a named route makes it a county road, regardless of whether you can find info or not. Being a county road, it will be open to travel, even if there are gates. Should there be gates, leave them in the condition found, open or closed.

If you start in Marfa, you probably won't easily find a knowledgeable person about getting to the far end, but if you start in Candelaria you can inquire locally if you must and undoubtedly, someone will know. However, starting in Candelaria may result in you coming out on US 90 someplace other than Marfa (say Valentine) or you may end up intersecting Pinto Canyon.

This is what real adventure (vehicle edition) looks like.

There are roads all over the desert and they are used regularly by locals. Not being shown on a map is meaningless. It is highly unlikely everyone in Candelaria backtracks all the way to Presidio (or even to Pinto Canyon) to go to Marfa.

Decades ago I drove Pinto Canyon from the river end back when nothing was shown on maps leaving Ruidosa. The Marfa end petered out on maps about halfway out from Marfa. It was abundantly obvious that a road just didn't go miles out in the desert and abruptly end, and it clearly was pointed toward Ruidosa. The logical assumption was that a road went all the way. I followed the obvious track out of Ruidosa and eventually hit the truncated road shown on the map.

Had the road out of Ruidosa uncharacteristicall y and unexpectedly ended, I simply would have backtracked and been richer for the experience of going someplace without a guidebook or needing advice from anyone.

Folks that cannot go anywhere without advance knowledge miss a lot.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on August 24, 2018, 07:08:58 PM
Oh, definitely.  My uncle and I are dirt road warrior explorers.    We've done more than our share of backtracking after not being able to go any further.  We had a trip earlier this year out to the Trinity Site and VLA, and did a ton of off-road exploring.  Headed to the top of Mt. Withington, then just started heading down forest roads.   

I'm just more curious about reports of any recent trips, and how heavily the Border Patrol monitors the area and what kinds of hassle we might get.   

Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: presidio on August 24, 2018, 10:23:07 PM
I'm just more curious about ... how heavily the Border Patrol monitors the area and what kinds of hassle we might get.

Undoubtedly, the BP works the area intensively and you may trip sensors on a route not heavily traveled.

However, the BP agents have no interest in folks who are pursuing legal activities. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't be contacted.

The BP has broad powers in border areas, and most citizens 'not from around here' have little to no understanding of that. But, the BP is not out to hassle anyone.

Generally, folks that experience difficulty can look to themselves as the source of such problems by being rude, snotty or uncooperative.

Despite complaints found on the internet, I've never experienced, seen or known anyone to ever have anything less than a professional contact with BP agents (someone likely will reference an opposite viewpoint).

You may or may not see them, but they will know you are there.

Go do the drive and have fun.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: presidio on August 24, 2018, 10:30:53 PM
We had a trip earlier this year out to the Trinity Site and VLA, and did a ton of off-road exploring.  Headed to the top of Mt. Withington, then just started heading down forest roads.   

If this was your first trip to these sites, what was your impression?

Did you go to the McDonald ranch house at Trinity?

The VLA is expansive, impressive and seemingly static. But, if you're there long enough you will notice dishes that have been repositioned (angle of aim, rather than lateral movement) during your visit, but you probably won't actually see them moving.

The San Mateo Mtns are very remote, despite the lower end being adjacent to I-25. I'm guessing you saw almost no one. Very attractive country and you did what I keep recommending to those whom seem only to ever go to Big Bend.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: Al on August 24, 2018, 10:46:08 PM
Presidio hit the nail on the head.  I've never had a bad experience with the BP and yes they know what's going on and always have, at least as long as I've been going out there. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on August 25, 2018, 09:39:32 AM
This was my second trip to the Trinity Site and the VLA.  I went a couple of years ago with my dad.    The Trinity Site is a great place to visit from a historical perspective, to get to stand right at the spot where the first atomic bomb was detonated.  There aren't many places in the world you can go to and say the trajectory of world history changed at this spot.     The McDonald Ranch house was also a very interesting spot.  When I went with my dad a couple of years ago, they were about to do a bunch of restoration work.  When I went with my uncle this year, they had a lot more signage up and had information about future preservation projects. 

From an overall perspective, I enjoyed the visit to the VLA.   On the two weekends each year that the Trinity Site is open, the VLA has an expanded open house.  When I went with my dad, the dishes were in the closest in configuration, while this year they were in the widest apart config.   It is impressive to see those enormous dishes move and get repointed. 

We saw one other car driving to Mt. Withington, then a few people camping at one of the sites we passed while exploring. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: presidio on August 26, 2018, 06:10:18 AM
We saw one other car driving to Mt. Withington, then a few people camping at one of the sites we passed while exploring.

Which is the way it is on lands not controlled by the NPS.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 13, 2018, 07:49:14 PM
We did the Chispa Road drive today.  Or at least attempted it.   We started from the north side and the weather was perfect.  Saw lots of interesting scenery.  About halfway to Candalaria, the road started getting really rough.   There were several washouts where at one point people tried to tame them with concrete.  It took some finesse, but we made it through them.  About a half mile past those, we came to a crossing that got obliterated during the rains last week.  There was a sandy four foot drop off into the creek bed.   We walked up and down the wash looking for an alternate path, but never found one.  So we decided discretion was the better part of valor and backtracked. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: BlindWilly on September 14, 2018, 08:07:35 AM
We did the Chispa Road drive today.  Or at least attempted it.   We started from the north side and the weather was perfect.  Saw lots of interesting scenery.  About halfway to Candalaria, the road started getting really rough.   There were several washouts where at one point people tried to tame them with concrete.  It took some finesse, but we made it through them.  About a half mile past those, we came to a crossing that got obliterated during the rains last week.  There was a sandy four foot drop off into the creek bed.   We walked up and down the wash looking for an alternate path, but never found one.  So we decided discretion was the better part of valor and backtracked.

Sounds like an adventure.  Did you take any photos or video?
I've been hearing reports of a lot of washouts with all the rain lately.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 14, 2018, 09:15:11 AM
Yeah, I took some pics as well as my aunt and uncles.  Super slow internet here, so will post them when I get back to Austin.  It is a great drive.  The scenery is always changing and the geology is outstanding! If we had a second vehicle plus some more tools, it would have been doable, but didnít want to risk it. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: Hang10er on September 14, 2018, 04:11:13 PM
The Trinity Site is a great place to visit from a historical perspective, to get to stand right at the spot where the first atomic bomb was detonated.  There aren't many places in the world you can go to and say the trajectory of world history changed at this spot.     



A few years back I was able to attend some WMD training and we spent a couple days in Mercury, Nevada.  While there we got to tour some sites to include the "Apple House", which was a house built and stocked with TV's, food, mannequins, cars, etc.  It was in the blast range of a nuclear bomb in "Area 1".  We also stood at a ground zero site (like the Trinity Site).  We stood at the exact spot where an atomic bomb was suspended and detonated.  It was one of the last ones detonated above ground.  We were told it was safe but we wore suits, carried dosimeters and I noticed we walked on a kind of dirt path and were told not to get off of it!! 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: House Made of Dawn on September 18, 2018, 11:40:10 AM

My uncle and I are dirt road warrior explorers.    We've done more than our share of backtracking after not being able to go any further.  We had a trip earlier this year out to the Trinity Site and VLA, and did a ton of off-road exploring.  Headed to the top of Mt. Withington, then just started heading down forest roads.   



The San Mateo Mtns are very remote, despite the lower end being adjacent to I-25. I'm guessing you saw almost no one. Very
attractive country and you did what I keep recommending to those whom seem only to ever go to Big Bend.



Wow, guys, I haven't heard mention of the San Mateos in twenty years. Back last century, I used to go there quite a lot. I had a project in the Sandia Mountains by Albuquerque, and another in the Organ Mountains by Las Cruces.  Whenever I was shuttling between the two, I tried to make time to hit the San Mateos.  Mount Withington is fun, and I especially enjoyed winter camping in the Apache Kid Wilderness. I'd drive my jeep as far as I could go in winter - usually up to Springtime Campground, and then snowshoe up to the summit of San Mateo Peak and the surrounding area for a couple days. Great stuff.  Never saw a single other person there. Thanks for jogging my memory. Haven't been back at all this century.

Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: presidio on September 18, 2018, 02:10:43 PM
Great stuff.  Never saw a single other person there. Thanks for jogging my memory. Haven't been back at all this century.

Never too late to go.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 17, 2019, 08:43:58 PM
We are going to take another stab at traversing Chispa Road this week.  We will be a bit more prepared this time, with two vehicle, as well as tools to work on the road if there are any washouts again like last year. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: BlindWilly on September 18, 2019, 03:37:01 PM
We are going to take another stab at traversing Chispa Road this week.  We will be a bit more prepared this time, with two vehicle, as well as tools to work on the road if there are any washouts again like last year.
What are y'all driving?
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 18, 2019, 05:35:35 PM
We are going to take another stab at traversing Chispa Road this week.  We will be a bit more prepared this time, with two vehicle, as well as tools to work on the road if there are any washouts again like last year.
What are y'all driving?

I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 with a diesel and Quadra lift
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 19, 2019, 04:37:32 PM
No joy again this year.  Decided to approach from the south this time, starting in Candelaria.   We made it to the gauging station, but the road was washed out completely, just the Rio Grande River.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: alan in shreveport on September 19, 2019, 09:38:31 PM
Bummer - got any pictures ?
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: BlindWilly on September 20, 2019, 09:45:59 AM
No joy again this year.  Decided to approach from the south this time, starting in Candelaria.   We made it to the gauging station, but the road was washed out completely, just the Rio Grande River.
Well poop!
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 22, 2019, 06:30:35 PM
Here are some pics of the short trip up Chispa Road from Candelaria.  First was a rough draw crossing, the next couple are from the gauging station.   The road goes across the river into Mexico, which was on the topo map.  But what was missing was that Chispa Road was supposed to continue up the US side of the Rio Grande.  A small dam was built and that area dredged out to make that pool 3.5 to 4 feet deep. 
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: Flash on September 22, 2019, 08:44:12 PM
Thanks for the photos. Curious, I looked around on Google Maps until I could spot the gauging station. Looks like a bypass was constructed around those bluffs and rejoins the older route of Chispa Rd.
- Flash
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 22, 2019, 09:18:34 PM
Well, damn.  We did think about that when looking at the topo after hitting the dead end, but didn't see any tire tracks going off that direction.  The only tracks went to the gauging station.   We did see the road that keeps going off to the east on the topo, but looking in that direction it kept going east, far away from Chispa Road.  Oh well, will have to try again next trip out.  We did drive Pinto Canyon Road, and that was a great trip.   
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: alan in shreveport on September 23, 2019, 06:52:42 AM
Not to sound like a broken record , but do you have any pics from your Pinto Canyon drive ?  Are there any ranch ruins, artifacts , etc. along the road ?  I plan on making that drive (Pinto C.) in November.  I've recently read  " In the shadow of the Chinatis" and it seems like some of the ranchers lived near the road. I haven't been able to spot anything on Google Earth.

The good news is, as you say, you still have Chispa Road on your to-do list.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 23, 2019, 07:54:12 AM
I'l have to see if one of my uncles have any pics of Pinto Canyon.  Unfortunately I didn't get any, except of the Pinto Canyon sign as you enter the ranch.  We did see a truck at a ranch house just off the road in one of the narrower canyons, as well as ruins of what looked to be an old mining operation in several places.   We didn't get out and explore because the sign asked you to stay on the road through the private ranch.  Interestingly, there is a new BBQ place opening up on Pinto Canyon Road just outside of Ruidosa.  They had their TABC application posted at the road stating they want to sell beer.

Not to sound like a broken record , but do you have any pics from your Pinto Canyon drive ?  Are there any ranch ruins, artifacts , etc. along the road ?  I plan on making that drive (Pinto C.) in November.  I've recently read  " In the shadow of the Chinatis" and it seems like some of the ranchers lived near the road. I haven't been able to spot anything on Google Earth.

The good news is, as you say, you still have Chispa Road on your to-do list.
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: alan in shreveport on September 23, 2019, 10:16:03 AM
"they want to sell beer."  - hopefully they'll have their permit by November
Title: Re: Chispa Road
Post by: ggowins on September 23, 2019, 10:25:52 AM
They have a website!

http://jimsbarbq.com/