Backroads of Big Bend

Welcome to West Texas and Big Bend National Park. From the rugged and rocky canyons of the Rio Grande to the breathtaking Chisos Mountains, we will explore this diverse landscape and take a deep dive into the region’s cultural history. Your guide and accompanying NPCA host will show you a lesser-known side of the park as we explore by foot and on water. You’ll leave with a deeper understanding of this landscape, its cultural history, and the ongoing challenges that make Big Bend an important priority for NPCA. Explore one of the wildest corners of America —and its unforgettable sights and solitude — all with the comfort of an NPCA small-group tour.

Download Detailed Trip Brochure (5 MB pdf)

Departure Date:

November 8-14, 2021 (2021 DEPARTURE POSTPONED TO 2022)

7 days/6 nights

Minimum/Maximum: 10 guests/13 guests


Why Travel with NPCA?

Our goal is to offer premium educational travel itineraries in the places we know best: America’s national parks.

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Schedule Highlights

  • Take a private tour of a historic site that tells the story of segregated education in Texas
  • Learn about the complex nature of the border region at the Boquillas border crossing
  • Gaze at the brightest stars at this International Dark Sky Park during a night sky program
  • Explore Fort Davis National Historic Site, a frontier military post, with National Park Service staff



Day 1: El Paso to Marfa: Arrive mid-afternoon at El Paso International Airport (ELP), the gateway to West Texas. On arrival meet your NPCA expert/host and guide. Transfer via private shuttle to the town of Marfa, Texas. Gather as a group for brief introductions and enjoy a group welcome reception and dinner at a local restaurant. The Hotel Paisano, Marfa (D)

Day 2: The Blackwell School to Big Bend National Park: This morning, we will meet with NPCA partners for a private tour of The Blackwell School, a historic three-room schoolhouse in Marfa that tells the story of segregated education in the state. NPCA is working with partners to preserve the original schoolhouse and grounds to establish a new park site, the Blackwell School National Historic Site. After a lunch with our partners from The Blackwell School Alliance, we head south to Big Bend National Park. End this day by enjoying dinner as a group in the lodge. Chisos Mountain Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 3: Paddling the Rio Grande: Water conditions permitting, we’ll have a full-day adventure paddling along the Rio Grande in canoes. We’ll travel through Santa Elena Canyon, with its striking 1,500-foot sheer canyon walls rising up from the water’s edge. Our float through this natural wonder is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After dinner, you will have the option to head outside for a magnificent dark sky program with the National Park Service. Chisos Mountain Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 4: Big Bend National Park: Head out for an NPCA exclusive visit with park staff at the Big Bend landfill. Big Bend is the only national park with a landfill within its boundaries. Learn how NPCA is partnering with the park to significantly reduce waste and improve waste management throughout the park. Then, learn about the complex nature of the border region at the Boquillas border crossing before heading to soak in the Boquillas Hot Springs. Chisos Mountain Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 5: Big Bend hiking and the town of Terlingua: Hike the Lost Mine Trail, a moderately difficult 4.2-mile trail through the Chisos Mountains. After enjoying stunning views of Casa Grande and Juniper Canyon, we climb up through juniper, oak and pine forests to rewarding views of Pine Canyon and the Sierra del Carmen in Mexico. Enjoy a picnic lunch and some down time at the lodge before we drive to Terlingua for dinner and live music at an important local landmark, the Starlight Theatre. Chisos Mountain Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 6: Big Bend to Fort Davis: Enjoy your last breakfast at Chisos Mountain Lodge and an optional morning nature walk with our NPCA host before embarking on a scenic drive to Fort Davis. On arrival, enjoy lunch and settle into our historic lodging. This afternoon, we will explore Fort Davis National Historic Site, one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars frontier military post in the Southwest. End the day with a visit to the McDonald Observatory for a dark sky program with NPCA and observatory staff.
Hotel Limpia (B, L, D)

Day 7: Fort Davis to El Paso and home: After breakfast, take the scenic drive to El Paso for departures home. (B)

Itinerary is subject to change based on weather and potential unforeseen park closures due to COVID-19.

NPCA TRAVEL ELIGIBILITY: NPCA is the only independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advocacy on behalf of the National Park System. We are 100% privately funded and we rely on donations from individuals like you. One traveler per group must be an active NPCA member to participate in an NPCA trip. An annual membership starts at $15 per person. Please make dues payable to NPCA by check or credit card at

TRAVEL SAFE WITH NPCA Your safety is our top priority. NPCA has worked diligently with each of our travel partners to develop important safety measures for all our trips. As guidelines and protocols evolve, we are committed to creating flexible options for those interested in rescheduling or booking new travel. For more information, check out our COVID-19 Travel Update.

MORE INFORMATION For full details on this trip, including inclusions, exclusions, accommodations, terms and safety protocols, please download the detailed trip brochure.

Download Detailed Trip Brochure (5 MB pdf)

MAKING RESERVATIONS To secure your space on this NPCA trip, please contact Jared Dial, NPCA’s Travel Program Manager, at 1-800-628-7275 or email

TRAVEL PROTECTION We strongly recommend purchasing important optional travel insurance that will cover you for a variety of travel-related contingencies, such as trip cancellation, interruption, and/or delay; baggage loss, theft, damage or delay; accident and/or sickness medical expenses; accidental death; as well as evacuation/repatriation coverage. Please note that a Pre-Existing Condition waiver is available if you purchase the policy within 21 days of making your initial trip payment. Also consider the optional “Cancel for any Reason” protection. All questions regarding the plan’s coverage should be directed to Travel Insurance Select through USI Affinity at 1-800-937-1387 or by visiting their website.

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calendary icon Date December 10, 2021
  • Cost:
    $4,545 per person double occupancy; $675 single supplement
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