Family Road Trip to Big Bend

This was an impulse decision. Since we have been wanting to go for a while now. I just happen to have an extended weekend, so we decided this afternoon, why not go to Big Bend and see it. Even if we do just a little. Maybe we will plan better next time.

Since the journey is about 11 hours from us, we decided to start today. So we are leaving at 9pm for San Antonio. Spend the night there and heading to Big bend the tomorrow.

I have 5 Jerry Cans, so I decided why not put them on my car? I might need them or I might just give one or 2 away for free if I meet anybody stranded. I have 2 spares and all my things to change my tire, if I do have a flat. But I am hoping my All terrain offroad tires would be up to the task.

We are leaving in an hour.

We got gas before getting home, then I just finished loading the car. Leaving after posting this.


I'd minimize the amount of weight you put on the roof strictly for center of gravity related reasons. Not to mention with those bad boys upright you're probably losing 1-2 mpg. Try laying them down (cap facing forward & upward) and you should be in good shape. On future trips, may want to only keep two cans up there. I took my '89 from DFW to BBNP last October and we were never in danger of running out of gas.
Have fun! Should be a good trip.


Adventure Photographer
Yep, even pulling an overloaded Adventure Trailer with my Montero, we only used the fuel in our plethora of fuel cans.... to shed the weight. My friend's Ram Charger's bumper was mangled by the weight of the trailer requiring me to pull it for a ways until we could fix the bumper.

You can see 4 fuel cans on the roof, I had an additional one up there too. Granted, we were offroad so the wind drag was not a concern.

The only real concern I can see is that you may have a break-over clearance issue if you try doing Black Gap. If you get hung up, just use your car's jack, jack up each corner and place rocks under your tires to increase your clearance. Don't do anything unwise.

Enjoy the trip.


New member
Yo bud loose at least 3 cans you will not need them.
Been down there are sufficient gas stations down there.
Lay your empty can down and fill it up in ft Stockton if you want.
Have fun

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I don't know if I need to worry about center of gravity on this trip since I would not be ding anything hardcore. As for the cans, I you guys are right in saying I will need only 2 or none at all. I am at Big Bend now and can see how one can plan to not run out of gas, but I also see if you plan to camp on the trails, it would be a wise thing to bring extra gas. So, 2 cans should be ok. The way I have the 5 cans now, I am definitely losing extra miles. But its ok.

I plan to do the Black Gap trail tomorrow. But the lady at the Panther Junction Visitor Center scared me by saying it is pretty bad now. So, I will see how far I can go into it. If I meet a tough situation, I hope I can make a u turn where I will be.

Actually, there are not many gas stations here. I almost ran out of gas driving from San Antonio today. We drove from San Antonio to Del Rio. Then crossed over the borders into Mexico. Came back and drove to Big Bend. We almost ran out of gas. But we were a little lucky. I was at 25 miles t empty when we found a gas station. It would have been ridiculous for me to run out of gas with 5 Jerry Cans on my roofrack. But glad we made it.
So we left Houston at 9pm last night and made it to our hotel in San Antonio at 1am. We went to bed by 1:30am. Got up at 6:30am and got on the road for Big Bend. We drove on US90 to Del Rio.

Got to Del Rio and decided why not cross the international borders and see how life is on the other side at this border. Well, we were in for a new surprise and scare.

So we cross over the US side. Get to the Mexico side and first we saw is armed guards. Quite young guys fully armed. Our little girl starts expressing her concern saying she is scared. We reassure her. I wanted to take pics, but saw signs for no cellphones. So, I could not take pics. When it was our turn to drive up, I pulled up and them and all of a sudden a LOUD ALARM went off. More like a LOUD SIREN. Well, everybody there; workers, passer-bys and armed guards turned their attention to US. One guard walked up to me and asked if we had anything t declare, I said no. They asked us to pull up to an area for a search. WHAT???

We comply. I park the Armada, but still running. Guards says turn it off. I comply. Guard could not speak english very well. But this is how the discussion ensured;

Guard: "Step out the vehicle and come and pen the trunk. We have to do a search of your car."
I comply. Guards starts walking around my car and inspecting suspiciously.

Guard: "Are you carrying any babies?"
That was a shocker to me. My windows were already down and they could see the 3 of us in the car, so that question took me by surprise. Didn't expect it. Well, I answered.
Me: "No"

Guard: "Are you carrying any guns, alcohol or tobacco?"
Me: "No"

Guard: "Open the trunk."
I comply. He asks me to open my 2 coolers. I did. One full of drinks(soda only), water and fresh grapes. All under ice. I move a little of the ice around for him to see.
Then he asks what are in the boxes up my Armada. I tell him. He asks, "Why do you have soo much gas on my car?"
Me: "It is for my road trip to Big Bend while I am on the trails, so I don't run out of gas."

Guard: "So, why are you going now to Mexico?"
Me: "Just to see how it looks."

Guard: "Ok, thank you. You can go now."
Me: "Can I take a picture of my car, with the trunk open as it sits right now?"

Guard: "No!"
Me: "Ok, thank you."

I lock up my Armada, back up and we get into Mexico and drive around a bit. It had rained a bit and the streets were deserted and looked scary. The few people we saw gave us some long stares, I almost felt as if someone would hijack us to try to steal our car. Well, we decided the atmosphere did not look friendly enough. So, we headed back for the borders.

As we were about to leave Mexico, guess who was crossing the street on foot with a bunch of tacos and a cup of drink? The officer who had asked me all those questions a few minutes ago about why we were getting into Mexico fully loaded as the Armada looked. I let him cross safely and we mad our way to the US side.

They asked us what we were doing in Mexico. We said we just stopped to check it out. They gave back our passports and off we went on our route to Big Bend.

Immediately after this pic below is when we got to the checkpoint where our Armada triggered the siren and alarm, causing some excitement there at the border.
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oh acuna. Fond, happy, sinful memories of acuna.

I can't wait to see your write up and pictures from Big Bend. I'm positively itching to get out there.
After getting back into the US, we made a quick stop at Amistad Natioanl Recreation Area before hitting the road for Big Bend.

We then continued our journey. After almost running out of gas, we got to this gas station and was lucky to fill up. Asked to use the restroom and the key that was given to me was let's just say my first time seeing it. Here is a pic of the key.

We got to Marathon and stopped at a small restaurant for lunch. Then I went to a gas station to fill up and to fill up 3 of my Jerry Cans. Well, I ended up not filling up the Jerry Cans when I saw what came out of the Jerry cans. They are all brand new. I had read that always rinse them with some gas before using the first time. Well, I put some gas in 2 of the cans, rinse and as I pour them out, instead of transparent gas coming back out, it is brown gas coming out. So, I suspect rust in the inside. So, I will not use these brand new Jerry cans. I will sell them or I will give them away, if it doesn't sell. If you know why this will happen, kindly advice me.

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Big Bend National Park, at last!!!

Off to Panther Junction Visitor Center. This is where the last gas station is closest to the trails. I filled up after paying for my park pass. Then we went to our hotel for the night: Chisos Mountains Lodge. The drive to this place has some great curves and some great views. The only bad thing here is that there is a warning for mountain lions. As they have an incident in the news where a mountain lion attacked a young boy right here where we are spending the night.

Links to the articles;

And though this place is not packed full tonight, there is still quite a lot of people with kids around here. We decided to go to ed quite early to be on the safe side. Oh, there is no tv in the rooms and no phones. Also my wife and I have no cellphone receptions down here in this valley. No radio reception in the car too, except XM. No ac in the rooms too. And the rooms are pricey. But this evening has been so cool, weather wise. So, can't complain much.

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First thing we did today was drive over to the Hot Springs Historic Area. I was not too pleased with their hotsprings as it was very small and it seemed man-made. I have seen a more beautiful hot springs in Arkansas. Non the less, this was god, warn and refreshing. We sat in it for a while and then decided to swim in the dirty Rio Grand river, where the other side was Mexico. On our way 15mins walk to the hotsprings, we came across a few things being sold where the seller put the things out and just left a message that says pay for whatever you take. So, take what you wish to buy and put your money there. Well, we did not want anything so we just walked past by. We met a few people there and a french expatriate with his wife and 4 kids. He parked his grey colored Suburban way close to the road and they were about to hike a long way to the park when we met them. I asked why they parked so far away, then they told me they were cautioned that only 4x4 vehicles could get close to the hotsprings. Of which, I advised them that they should be fine and the said they would follow me. They were very happy when we got to the springs and they realized a minivan was parked there. So, they were thankful to have met us who saved them from walking for 3 miles round trip, to get to the springs, instead of half a mile round trip, when you park at the right place.

Enjoying the soothing feeling of the hotsprings water. After this, we went swimming in the dirty water in the back. A couple of people came and were swimming also. The water was cool, s a different feeling from the warm hotsprings water.

Dinner. This was a very good and tasty bison burger.

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