A political boundary and one of the most recognizable lines on a Texas map -- the dual curves of the Rio Grande (known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo) -- is a fascinating route through two countries and cultures. You'll finish out the itinerary in San Antonio, a city that embodies and embraces the diversity and coexistence of the cultures.
Day 1: Arrive in El Paso
The largest metro area on any border in the world, this booming community of nearly four million people on both sides of the river wears its many layers of history on its sleeves: There are 17th-century Spanish missions, Victorian downtown storefronts, skyscrapers, suburban strip malls, factories, and poor Mexican neighborhoods. Base yourself in downtown El Paso, if you want easy access to cross into Juárez by foot, or by the airport, where you'll find more numerous accommodations options. The L&J Café is a great choice for dinner.
Day 2: Explore El Paso & Ciudad Juárez
In El Paso, we recommend the El Paso Museum of Art, San Jacinto Plaza, and the El Paso Mission Trail. Cross into Juárez on foot in the afternoon and shop the city markets, and then check out the historic plaza and 1668 mission before retreating to the Kentucky Club -- the alleged birthplace of the margarita -- and Nuevo Martino for dinner.
Day 3: Explore Candelaria en route to Big Bend National Park
Start the day with breakfast at the H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop. From El Paso, take I-10 and U.S. 90 back east to Marfa, then U.S. 67 to Presidio before diverting back northeast along the border on FM 170. The drive to Candelaria is scenic and has little traffic. Backtrack through Presidio en route to stay for the night in the Big Bend area. Grab dinner at the Starlight Theatre.
Days 4-5: Big Bend National Park
Make a point of exploring the river canyons in Big Bend, and take a few hikes in the park. Camp or stay at Chisos Mountains Lodge at night or stay in one of the gateway towns. (Unfortunately, there are no official crossings into Mexico in the vicinity and once-traditional unofficial crossings for dinner are now prosecuted.) If time permits, explore the adjacent Big Bend Ranch State Park. If you have more time for this trip, this is a great place to spend several days, perhaps taking a multiday rafting or canoeing trip on the river border itself.
Day 6: Del Rio
From Big Bend, get back on U.S. 90 and continue east to Del Rio. En route, visit Amistad National Recreation Area (a joint U.S.-Mexico reservoir on the Rio Grande) and the Pecos River before checking in at the Villa Del Rio Bed & Breakfast or another lodging. Have dinner in Ciudad Acuña, a colorful Mexican border town.
Day 7: San Antonio
From Del Rio head east on U.S. 90 about 150 miles for San Antonio. Spend the day ambling the River Walk, enjoying some Mexican food, shopping the import stalls at Market Square, or taking a tour of one of the famous local attractions such as the Alamo or the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.