Trail of the Month: Christmas Mountain, Big Bend Texas

Yeah, it's in the middle of nowhere, but that's why you're interested, isn't it? This 26 mile-long primitive road follows the early 1900s historic route used to transport ore from Mexican mines to the railroad station in Marathon.

Joining us this month as we March onward into 2022 is Brian Mcgill, otherwise known as @dirtwolf6. Brian leads the trail of the month to Christmas Mountain, which is nestled near the Big Bend National Park area. No, you won't find Santa and the reindeer trolling about in their big fluffy winterwear, but it's possible they will be down there in shorts and a Cali Raised LED t-shirt.

Brian has been in the off-roading scene since he grew up racing dirtbikes and racing cross-country. Camping and racing have always been a part of his life. "I just love being outside and away from the busy life in the city, it's just a great way to let loose and relax and have fun. GO EXPLORE!!!" We couldn't agree more, Brian.

Let's get to it!

The Christmas Mountains range is located just north of the western entrance to Big Bend National Park. The mountains are visible from Texas Highway 118 looking east, roughly where it starts to wind through the foothills just north of Study Butte/Terlingua. The range covers about 15 square miles and rises dramatically from the Chihuahuan Desert floor. The summit is 5,728 feet, with nearly 2,400 feet of clean prominence. There is no fee for access, but a $75.00 key deposit is required to drive up to the summit. Vehicles must be high clearance 4WD/AWD, and only one full-sized vehicle is allowed at a time. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are some of the recreational activities allowed.

Trail Info:

Name of the trail:
Old Ore Road, Black Gap Road, and Christmas mountain

Terlingua/ Big Bend National Park

Old Ore Road is 26 miles. The Black Gap is 16 miles. Christmas Mountain is 20 miles.

Best time of year to go:
I prefer to go in November, warm during the day but nice and cool at night

Key Features:
Great views. Nothing too challenging. It's really cool to see parts of the national park that not everyone gets to experience

Christmas Mountain summit Elevation: 5,728′.

No fee for Christmas Mountain, 30 dollars for National Park Entry that is good for 7 days I believe.

Phone Numbers for local help:
Terlingua ranch lodge (432)-371-3146.
Big Bend National Park (432) 477-2251.

Grid Coordinates:
29°25′31″N 103°26′32″WCoordinates: 29°25′31″N 103°26′32″W

Tire Pressure Advice:
I ran my pressure at around 20.

Rig requirements:
(Example, must be 4x4 with lift kit, or standard 4x4):
Any standard 4x4 should be ok!

About the Ride:

Tell us about your favorite part of this trail and what time of year did you go?
The best part of all three trails is just the views of the vast desert in big bend and Terlingua.

Tell us about the trip in general, did you have any scary moments?
It was just a fun trip easy wheeling but very scenic and beautiful desert

What was the coolest moment?
Driving up Christmas mountain in the fog was pretty cool. We didn't get to experience the views at the top but it started clearing up and we started heading back down

Was there any gear you gained a new appreciation for based on this trip?
Having walkie helped us communicate where there is no cell service

Would you ever go back?

Anything else you want to share with us?
Lots of cool stuff in Terlingua. Good food there as well!

What makes this a difficult or easy trail?
These trails are relatively easy it's more about the views

What keeps you Overlanding and off-roading?
Always going to see and experience new areas/ cities. I love exploring!

What’s your dream trail and why?
All the trails! I really want my next trip to be in the Ozarks. I want to do some water crossing and maybe some fishing!

Would you recommend this trail to anyone or more experienced folks?
I think anyone could do these trails. Nothing too difficult just be smart and safe and you shouldn't have any issues

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Overlanding and off-roading?
I'm 39 now. Grew up racing cross country dirt bike races always camped when racing. I just love being outside and away from the busy life in the city. It's just a great way to let loose and relax and have fun GO EXPLORE!!!

Instagram: Dirtwolf6

Places to visit while Overlanding on the trial is Terlingua, Texas. They have a ton of glamping hotels in the town making it a hipster ghost town. The most recommended thing to do in Terlingua is going to the starlight theatre and saloon. This old theatre showcases old western architecture and is known for its chili. Next is the cemetery. Dating back to 1903 the cemetery feature many people who died of mining accidents and the influenza epidemic in 1918. Lastly, there is a ton of artwork that is made out of modern rusty sculptures. Some featured around the town are a motorcycle and a dragonfly!


  • Can’t wait to get out there. Great write-up!

    Forrest 02/22/2023 at 12:02 AM
  • Headed there soon!

    Joe Myers 12/16/2022 at 03:48 PM
  • Looks amazing! Would love to get out there soon.

    Aaron K 04/21/2022 at 10:48 AM
  • The Christmas Mountain trail is fantastic. Like everything else out in that part of Texas, it’s a little weird. The Christmas Mountains are the property of the Texas State University System (TSUS). Terlingua Ranch serves as their gatekeeper. Call ahead ( 432-371-3146 ) to get your permit from the Terlingua Ranch Lodge office. They only allows two trips up a day: One in the morning and one in the afternoon. By all means ask Bill, the desk clerk, to tell you about his UFO sightings outside of Marfa, TX. He’s a trip.

    Jamie F 04/12/2022 at 04:19 PM
  • Terlingua has an awesome place to stay called the red Buffalo teepee. If you’re looking for a quiet-remote place to camp and want to be somewhat near civilization, I highly recommend! Can be booked on AirB&B

    Brandon Chapa 04/07/2022 at 12:24 PM
  • I’d like to go out here someday but I’m afraid of it being so close to the border

    Lucky P 03/17/2022 at 04:44 PM
  • I am looking forward to taking my new TRD Pro Tacoma out to Big Bend. Maybe next Spring!

    Russell 03/06/2022 at 10:43 PM
  • This looks like a dream come true, ultimate relaxation

    Ryan L 03/03/2022 at 05:08 PM
  • Man I would love to remote camp in Texas, God’s Country!

    Ryan L 03/03/2022 at 05:07 PM