Primitive Roadside Campsites— Johnson Ranch

View from Johnson Ranch Campsite 1
View from Johnson Ranch Campsite 1

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Roadside Campsites Regulations Sign

Campsite Specifics

Primitive roadside sites offer nice views, solitude, and a small flat gravel space to set up camp next to your vehicle. No shade, toilets, or other amenities are provided. The use of generators is prohibited in the backcountry.

There are two campsites at Johnson Ranch. These sites are located along the River Road, 15.6 miles from the west end near Castolon, or 38.4 miles from the east end near Rio Grande Village. There is a short 0.3 mile access road to the campsites.

  • Johnson Ranch 1 (JR-1) can accommodate 2 vehicles, 10 people, 4 horses.
  • Johnson Ranch 2 (JR-2) can accommodate 2 vehicles, 8 people, 2 horses.
 

Directions

Johnson Ranch campsites are located along the River Road, 15.6 miles from the west end near Castolon, or 38.4 miles from the east end near Rio Grande Village. There is a short 0.3 mile access road to the campsites.

 

Road Conditions

River Road is maintained for high clearance vehicles only. After rains, River Road is extremely muddy and may quickly become impassable to all vehicles. 4-wheel drive may be required.

 

Vegetation

Only minimal shade available at these campsites. The campsites are located in thick, brushy, riparian vegetation.

 

Views

Only minimal views from the campsites, but a 5-minute walk to the Johnson Ranch ruins provides a magnificent view of the south Chisos, the Rio Grande, and the cliff face of the Sierra Ponce in Mexico.

 

River Access

The river is accessible by following winding livestock trails through thick mesquite. Access is easiest from the JR-2 campsite.

 

Cautions

To minimize the possibility of theft, secure belongings when away from these campsites and while sleeping. Do not leave the site unattended for long periods of time. Check on road conditions with a ranger. 4-wheel drive may be necessary after rain.

 

Remarks

Nearby ruins are the remains of the Elmo Johnson Ranch. This combination trading post, cotton farm, and goat ranch was in operation until the 1940’s. During the 1930’s the U.S. Army constructed an airstrip here. Camping is prohibited near the ruins.

Campsite Photos:

 
Johnson Ranch Campsite 1
Johnson Ranch Campsite 1
 
Johnson Ranch Campsite 2
Johnson Ranch Campsite 2
 
Ruins at Johnson Ranch
Ruins at Johnson Ranch

Last updated: March 9, 2021

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Big Bend National Park , TX 79834-0129

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