Scenic River Road (FM 170)

Farm Road 170, El Camino del Rio – for over 60 miles this narrow, especially scenic highway dives up and down steep ridges, across desert and through canyons alongside the river, past splendid, empty Chihuahuan Desert landscapes. En route are a few trails, picnic tables and viewpoints, plus parking areas and side tracks to the river for primitive camping, fishing and boating access. One of the more unusual picnic spots is towards the east of the park at The Tepees, Madera Canyon – a collection of Indian-themed shelters beside the road with good views over the Rio Grande; another interesting site is the remains of the Contrabando Movie Set, a Mexican-style village used for several films such as Rio Diablo and Streets of Laredo, but now presenting quite an aged and authentic appearance. For camping there are three official sites beside the river (Colorado Canyon, Madera Canyon and Grassy Banks), plus a few other secluded places where (free) overnight stays are possible, such as along the short side road to the West Contrabando Trailhead. (Source:

Mentioned in National Geographic's "Drives of a Lifetime"

Mentioned in National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime”

View a map of the driving route: