Biking and Whitewater Haven on the Rio Grande
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Unlike most national parks, Big Bend allows mountain bikers on every trail, totaling to 150 miles of track. And with desert land, mountains, hot springs, and Rio Grande-riverside backcountry to bike, trek, and paddle, if you somehow do get sick of two-wheeling it, there are over a million acres to explore however you see fit. Winter temperatures hover in the pleasant 60 to 70-degree range — a far and welcomed stretch from the unbearable blood-boiling summer weather of the Southwest Texan Chihuahuan desert. In fact, what is considered off-season for most parks is perfect timing in Big Bend, with prime weather ranging from October to April. Take advantage of the whitewater opportunities and paddle Class II-III Rio Water through the half-mile-deep slotted gorges of Santa Elena Canyon while everyone else in the country is skiing. Half-day canoe floats are also offered year-round.
Fly: The closest international airport is El Paso, a five-hour drive. Southwest offers flights from Dallas-Forth Worth to Midland, which cuts the road travel to three hours.
Stay: The Chisos Mountains Lodge sits at an elevation of 5,400 feet in the heart of Big Bend, and rooms start at $134 per night. [chisosmountainslodge.com]