Presidio sits on the borderland of Texas and Mexico, where locals often say, “the River has never divided us”. The two largest rivers in this region of the Big Bend join one another here in Presidio: the Rio Grande and Rio Conchos. It has a long and documented past as a cultural crossroads and has served as a traveler destination for centuries. Native tribes and early settlers were drawn to the rich soil of the area historically known as “La Junta de los Rios”. Water is life and that truth is accentuated here in the unique landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Presidio, located in the furthest regions of stunningly gorgeous west Texas, lies at the crossroads of a plethora of “bucket list” activities. This pleasant town, located in the Big Bend Region just minutes from the Mexican border, is the ideal base for experiencing the region’s fascinating culture and picturesque landscapes.
Early peoples, and later European explorers, were drawn to the area for its confluence of waters. This is, after all, where the Rio Grande and Rio Conchos meet. The first Spanish settlers came to the region in the 16th century and, over the years, established numerous missions and garrisons. Presidio’s name comes from its role as the Mexican fortress, Presidio del Norte, whose ruins are in present-day Ojinaga, Mexico, Presidio’s sister city just across the border.
Today, visitors flock to the area to enjoy its wide-open spaces, outdoor adventures and majestic beauty. The town is the starting point for well-known scenic drives, including the east and west stretches of Highway 170, or FM 170. The “FM” in the highway’s name stands for “farm to market,” reflecting the route’s original function as connecting farms to the town center.
From Presidio, head out on day trips to the west or east, to experience the unique beauty of the Big Bend Region. A portion of FM 170 East, known as The River Road, has been named one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Scenic Drives in the U.S. It parallels the Rio Grande for nearly 30 miles, dishing up spectacular colors and textures as the river cuts through the Bofecillos Mountains and descends into the Rio Grande Valley.
Presidio enjoys a close relationship with Ojinaga, Mexico. Both travelers and locals cross back and forth across the border regularly. Present your passport at the Presidio/Ojinaga International Port of Entry for a trip to beautiful, engaging Ojinaga, a safe and charming place to shop and savor authentic Mexican cuisine prepared by friendly locals. Ojinaga is also a winning place to explore nature. Embark on a day hike or a paddling trip on the Rio Conchos. Outfitters in Presidio are happy to set up trips and guide visitors.
Cars and motorbikes, which have long been associated with the American road-trip mentality, are deeply ingrained in Presidio culture. The area’s collection of tiny villages and picturesque byways attracts bikers. The Presidio International Drag Strip is a high-energy drag racing event for vehicle enthusiasts, with racers competing along a 310-foot racing strip built by local enthusiasts. Spectators cheer for their favorite drivers from parking lot tailgates.
With rugged canyons, dusky desserts, blue-green rivers and azure blankets of bluebonnets, you’ll find that west Texas has a special brand of wilderness and plenty of opportunities to soak it in. Located near Presidio is Texas’s largest state park: Big Bend Ranch State Park, a 315,000-acre facility within the Chihuahuan Desert. Nature lover? You have arrived! The park has 238 miles of multi-use trails where you can hike, bike and ride horses. While visiting, be sure to take a peek or two at the beautiful night skies. This special paradise has been designated an official International Dark Sky Park and is part of the largest International Dark Sky Reserve in the world, which ensures stargazers have access to untainted views of the night skies without light pollution.
The town of Presidio also welcomes travelers with its quaint local eateries and accommodations, regular events and historic sites like St. Teresa de Jesus de Avila Catholic Church, whose origins date back to an early 19th Century Spanish mission. With friendly folks and stunning scenery, Presidio guarantees you’ll make new memories—and some new friends, too.