PRESIDIO

General.. The population is 3,310 and the altitude is 2,594

Isolated village on the Rio Grande that grew from an early Spanish settlement once protected by a presidio (fort). Surrounding terrain is arid, rugged, and often spectacular. The Mexican town south of the river is Ojinaga.

FORT LEATON STATE HISTORIC SITE AND BIG BEND RANCH STATE NATURAL AREA

- One of Texas’ most unusual historic sites, massive adobe fortress built by frontiersman Ben Leaton in 1848 immediately after the Mexican War at strategic site on Chihuahua-San Antonio Trail in arid West Texas by the Rio Grande. Leaton cornered the lucrative trade with he area Indians, supplied far-ranging U.S. Army patrols and was accused of encouraging Indian raids on settlements in Mexico by trading weapons and ammunition for stolen livestock. Of more than 40 original rooms around large patio, 24 are architecturally restored and roofed with cottonwood (vigas) beams, and sheathed with adobe. Restoration, not yet complete, eventually will include frontier furnishings of living and guest quarters, dining room, kitchen, storerooms, and granary. Interpretive exhibits trace the area history and culture; audiovisual program on desert ecology. 3 miles east of Presido on F.M. 170.

Visitor center at the fort introduces Big Bend Ranch State Natural Area; departure pint for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department bus tours the first Saturday of each month. Center also offers information about vehicle, hiking, and river raft access to the vast, primitive region. Experienced backpackers only; no developed facilities. Entry and user fees.

SCENIC DRIVE - EL CAMINO del RIO

, Spanish for “The River Road,” local name for F.M. 170, that stretches from Lajitas northwest to Presido and beyond into the Chinati Mountains. An excellent paved route, it is one of the most spectacular drives in Texas, plunging over mountains and canyons along the sun-drenched Rio Rande. Drivers are cautioned that the route encounters steep grades (15%), sharp curves, occasional loose livestock, and low-water crossings; special alert for large RV’s or vehicles pulling large trailers.