Tucked like a secret into a sweeping bend of the Rio Grande is Big Bend National Park, a hiker’s paradise, birder’s mecca, stargazer’s heaven, and explorer’s jackpot.
October 28-November 3, 2017
March 20-26, 2018
March 31-April 6, 2018
October 27-November 2, 2018
DAY 1: EL PASO, FORT DAVIS: Get to know your guide and traveling companions on the 200-mile drive from El Paso to Fort Davis, through the wide-open ranching country of West Texas. In Fort Davis, we’ll visit the McDonald Observatory before our welcome dinner and orientation.
DAY 2: BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK: This morning we visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site, a restored cavalry post where African-American soldiers were stationed. Named “Buffalo Soldiers” by the Cheyenne and Comanche Indians, the soldiers played a critical role in western history, and constituted nearly 20 percent of all cavalry forces on the American Frontier. This afternoon, we travel through Persimmon Gap into the hauntingly beautiful Big Bend National Park, with its rugged mountains, deep river canyons, and stretching desert vista. It’s hard to find a quieter place on the planet. We’ll stop at the Panther Junction Visitor Center for an overview, then settle into our accommodations in the heart of the park.
DAY 3: BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK: We venture out to Big Bend’s legendary Rio Grande Village area this morning to walk amid the huge cottonwood trees lining the river corridor. The group has a chance to meet with park staff to talk about the issues facing Big Bend National Park. A nice picnic lunch and little siesta in a shaded campground refreshes your senses for a visit to the dramatic limestone cliffs of Boquillas Canyon.
DAY 4: BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before this morning’s hike in the Chisos Basin. The Chisos Mountains are an “island” mountain range, rising above the landscape. Extensive shrubs at these higher elevations shelter Sierra del Carmen white-tailed deer, as well as mountain lions and bobcats. Watch for other wildlife uniquely adapted to the region, including mule deer, coyotes, javelina, Big Bend geckos, and Texas horned lizards. Tonight stroll out into the desert to star gaze and listen for coyotes and common poorwills.
DAY 5: BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK: A variety of experiences await today, beginning with a hike along the massive walls of Santa Elena Canyon, a magnificent limestone gorge carved by the Rio Grande. The afternoon features a “guide’s choice” hike, possibly to Cattail Falls, where ferns grow from rocks near a small pool. For a special treat this evening, dinner is at the Starlight Theatre, a lively restaurant and bar at the edge of the park. Enjoy the subtle evening desert colors or first stars on the way back to the hotel.
DAY 6: BIG BEND AND MARFA: A final early morning hike in the Chisos Basin sets the panoramic views of the Chihuahuan Desert into your memory. Bidding adios to Big Bend, we make the 2.5-hour drive to our historic hotel in Marfa. The afternoon is yours to relax by the pool or explore the many galleries in this fun little art community. Tonight, celebrate the trip with a festive farewell dinner.
DAY 7: EL PASO FOR DEPARTURES HOME: After breakfast at the hotel, depart for the El Paso airport for early afternoon flights home.
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