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Starry Skies and Campfires: Intergenerational Adventure in the Mountains of Far West Texas

Program Number: 9943RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/16/2013 - 6/21/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Fort Davis, Texas
Price starting at: $855.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Intergenerational
Intergenerational
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Program intended for grandchildren from 8 - 13 years of age.

The young and the young at heart unite for an educational adventure under the wide open sky of West Texas. Enjoy the rugged natural beauty and pleasant summer climate of the Davis Mountains. Swim in the natural artesian spring at Balmorhea State Park, learn the story of the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Davis and absorb fun lessons about the geology, botany and culture of the mountains and the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert.




Highlights

Hike and ride on horseback in the pristine wilderness of the Davis Mountains.
Savor authentic cowboy fare and music around the campfire.
Discover astronomy and stargaze at world-renowned McDonald Observatory.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day.




Date Specific Information

6-16-2013

Treat grandads to a special Father`s Day dinner at Mountain Trails Lodge on the first day of the program!




Fort Davis

Established as a major station on the Overland Route, the west Texas town of Fort Davis is situated amid the beautiful Davis Mountains. Home to numerous outdoor recreational and conservation parks, Fort Davis' clear skies attract stargazers, while abundant wildlife draws birders and nature lovers.



Accommodations
Homey cabins with two full beds, private bath, kitchenette and porch on 10 serene acres in the Davis Mountains.
Meals and Lodgings
   Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center
  Fort Davis, TX 4 nights
   Spring Creek Ranch
  Marathon, TX 1 night
 Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center
Type: Lodge
  Description: The lodge is located on 10 acres less than a mile south of historic Fort Davis, Texas. The relaxing, inviting atmosphere features lectures, entertainment, meals, and lodging all on site within easy walking distance. Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center, formerly Davis Mountains Education Center, in association with Elderhostel and Road Scholar, has provided educational adventures to adults and youth since 1989.
  Contact info: 501 E Musquiz Dr
PO Box 1138
Fort Davis, TX 79734 USA
phone: 432-426-3481
web: www.mountaintrailslodge.com
  Room amenities: Duplex cabins feature wireless Internet access, heating and air conditioning, and private porches. Each cabin has a coffee maker, microwave, small refrigerator, private bath with shower, reading lights above the beds, and sitting area.
  Facility amenities: From your front porch, enjoy wide vistas of the Chihuahuan Desert and foothills of the Davis Mountains. Star pad and telescopes are located on premises for star gazing with our staff astronomer. Classroom and dining areas are within easy walking distance. Parking is available at each room with secure parking on site during your program travels. Satellite television and telephone for local calls are available in common areas.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $94.00 Lodging is available nights before and after program. For those arriving via our El Paso shuttle, please remember that our shuttle runs on program start and end dates ONLY. If you wish to arrive early or stay late, you may rent a car at the El Paso airport and park it at the Lodge.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Spring Creek Ranch
Type: Other
  Description: Private working ranch in the mountains near Big Bend National Park. Owned and operated by the Carter family, who ran the horseback concession in Big Bend National Park for years. Craig Carter is a well-know Texas and western country singer.
  Contact info: South Highway 385
Marathon, TX 79842 USA
phone: 432-376-2260
  Room amenities: Rustic ranch lodge. No amenities. Bring your own hairdryers, shampoo and conditioner and any other toiletries or amenities you require.
  Facility amenities: Experience authentic Texas ranch living! Lodge has rooms with two twin beds with shared bathrooms, and some cabins a short walk from the main lodge. Tents are set up for kids and grandparents who want to truly experience life outdoors (Outdoor restroom and bathhouse nearby). Expansive covered veranda provides a lovely spot to watch the sunrise and sunset, listen to stories of ranch life, and enjoy fabulous West Texas BBQ and hospitality. Evening entertainment around the campfire, when musicians are available and fire conditions permitting.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Indoor plumbing in lodge. Shared bathrooms. Outdoor privvy for tent camping.


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
You may check in to Mountain Trails Lodge starting at 3:00 PM; Program begins with Orientation at 4:30 PM. You will be staying at Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast; Vans depart Spring Creek Ranch promptly at 7:30 AM Central time - Shuttle passengers to El Paso airport by 11:00 AM Mountain time; All others to Mountain Trails Lodge by 9:00 AM. You will be staying at Spring Creek Ranch the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. You MUST return Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center's Personal Information and Liability Release Forms before the program starts. Without these signed forms, you will not be allowed to participate in the outdoor learning program and the horseback or jeep tour. Look for these forms in a separate mailing directly from Mountain Trails Lodge.
  Parking availability:
Free parking at Mountain Trails Lodge during your program travels. We do have RV parking but do NOT have RV hook ups.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fort Davis, TX
  Nearest city or town:  Fort Davis, TX
  Nearest highway: Texas State Highways 17 & 118
  Nearest airport:  El Paso International Airport and Midland International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location:  Marathon, TX
  Nearest city or town:  Marathon, TX
  Nearest highway: US Highway 90
  Nearest airport:  Midland, TX
Travel Details
 

El Paso to Fort Davis

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Mountain Trails Lodge
phone: 432-426-3481
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$150 round trip ($75 one way)
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

3.5 

 

Distance:

 

200 miles

   

As a courtesy, the lodge offers shuttle service from El Paso to Fort Davis on program start and end dates ONLY. Participants must be at one of these pickup locations before departure time of 11:00 AM Mountain time on program start date: Hyatt Place El Paso Airport (915.771.0022), Wyndham El Paso Airport Inn (800.996.3426) or Microtel El Paso (888.771.7171). Shuttle returns you to the airport by 11:00 AM Mountain time on program end date. Pay on arrival at the lodge by cash, check or credit card.

 
Driving Directions
  From Eastern U.S. - San Antonio to Fort Davis Take I-10 West to Balmorhea. At Balmorhea, take the Highway 17 exit and turn left under the overpass. Follow Highway 17 South to Fort Davis. You will see signs to Fort Davis National Historic Site and McDonald Observatory. When you reach Fort Davis, Highway 17 merges with Highway 118 at a T intersection. Turn left, and continue past the Fort Davis National Historic Site (on your right). Just past the courthouse, go left at the "Y" towards Alpine on Highway 118 South. Travel 3/4 mile and turn left through the gate into Mountain Trails Lodge.
  From Northern US - Dallas/Fort Worth and Midland/Odessa to Fort Davis Take I-20 through Midland/Odessa to Pecos. Take the Highway 17 exit and turn left. Travel south on Highway 17 to I-10. Highway 17 and I-10 merge for about a mile. At Balmorhea, turn left under the overpass and follow Highway 17 South to Fort Davis. You will see signs to Fort Davis National Historic Site and McDonald Observatory. When you reach Fort Davis, Highway 17 merges with Highway 118 at a T intersection. Turn left, and continue past the Fort Davis National Historic Site (on your right). Just past the courthouse, go left at the "Y" towards Alpine on Highway 118 South. Travel 3/4 mile and turn left through the gate into Mountain Trails Lodge.
  From Western U.S. - El Paso to Fort Davis Take I-10 to Van Horn. Take the Highway 90 exit, and turn right at the light. Follow Highway 90 east through Valentine. Several miles past Valentine, you will see a sign for Fort Davis. Turn left onto highway 505. Follow Highway 505 northeast to Highway 166. Turn right, and follow Highway 166 East to the junction of Highway 17. Turn left and follow Highway 17 to Fort Davis. At the Y, bear right towards Alpine on Highway 118 South. Travel 3/4 mile and turn left through the gate into Mountain Trails Lodge. REMEMBER WHEN TRAVELING FROM EL PASO OR NEW MEXICO, THERE WILL BE A TIME CHANGE OF ONE HOUR FORWARD TO CENTRAL TIME.
Elevation Note: Fort Davis is located at 5,050 feet. Program encounters elevation near 7,000 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals, Regional Studies
(Sunday, June 16)
   
 Afternoon: 3:00 PM Check in at Mountain Trails Lodge. 4:30 PM Welcome and orientation session.
 Dinner: Special Father's Day meal at the Lodge.
 Evening: Overview of the natural world of the Chihuahuan Desert and "sky island" mountains in the region. Our presenter will explain the different landscapes and ecosystems, and discuss the botany and wildlife you will experience here.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Fort Davis National Historic Site, Balmorhea State Park, Swimming, Wildlife, Snakes and Bugs!
(Monday, June 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the Lodge.
 Morning: Explore Fort Davis National Historic Site, which depicts the history of buffalo soldiers, Native American inhabitants and skirmishes, and life at the fort for the soldiers and their families. Walk a part of the Butterfield Overland mail route and San Antonio-El Paso road as you participate in an educational program with uniformed rangers or volunteers.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch under cottonwoods and native oaks at Balmorhea State Park.
 Afternoon: Swim in the two-acre natural artesian pool and enjoy a nature walk to the desert cienega. Search for a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, turtles, snakes and endangered fish. On the way back, we'll visit Buzz the Snake Guy, where we'll view an exhibit of live reptiles and arthropods and learn about these fascinating desert creatures.
 Dinner: At the Lodge.
 Evening: Evening program on BUGS! Set up white sheets and turn on black lights to see what shows up. A fascinating array of colorful moths, as well as perhaps a scorpion or two, will not be able to resist the allure. Wear dark clothing and close-toed shoes.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, McDonald Observatory, Astronomy
(Tuesday, June 18)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the Lodge.
 Morning: Explore Chihuahuan Desert Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Your guide will lead you on interpretive hikes through botanical gardens, cactus greenhouse, mining history exhibit, and geology exhibit. In Modesta Canyon, visit a natural spring and look for water bugs. Walk through geologic layers of sedimentary and volcanic history.
 Lunch: At the Lodge.
 Afternoon: Join staff for a solar viewing program before exploring the world-renown University of Texas McDonald Observatory. See inside two large research telescopes, including the world's third largest single structure optical telescope: the Hobby Eberly Telescope (HET).
 Dinner: Regional specialty.
 Evening: Participate in a Star Party at McDonald Observatory. Identify constellations in the night sky and observe celestial objects through several telescopes manned by astronomers behind the visitor's center.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Horseback Ride or Jeep Tour, Marfa Lights
(Wednesday, June 19)
   
 Breakfast: At the Lodge.
 Morning: Experience the backcountry in the breathtaking Davis Mountains. On horseback or in a jeep, watch for wildlife, birds, and trees and plants indicative of the Chihuahuan Desert.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch.
 Afternoon: After your horseback ride or jeep tour, relax at Mountain Trails Lodge. Throw a frisbee, take a nap, or play games.
 Dinner: At the Lodge.
 Evening: Discuss Marfa Lights phenomenon and possible causes, then travel to the viewing area between Alpine & Marfa to look for these mysterious lights.
   
Accommodations: Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Alpine and Museum of the Big Bend; Marathon, TX, Historic Cattle & Railroad Town; West Texas Ranch BBQ; Music and Stories Around the Campfire
(Thursday, June 20)
   
 Breakfast: At the Lodge.
 Morning: Drive to historic Alpine, Texas. We'll visit the world-class Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University. A docent will give you a glimpse into the fascinating history of the Big Bend region - from pre-history (archaeology & geology), native American residents, and Spanish explorers to the more recent history of cowboys and ranchers, soldiers at the Fort, railroads, the formation of Big Bend National Park, and Sul Ross State University. A special program at the museum will include a hands-on craft or activity for adults and kids to enjoy together!
 Lunch: At the Reata Restaurant, named after the Texas ranch in the movie "Giant."
 Afternoon: Stroll down historic Murphy Street in Alpine and stop for ice cream at Murphy Street Raspa Company. Travel south through Marathon, Texas, to a real working West Texas ranch.
 Dinner: Traditional West Texas cowboy BBQ brisket cookout.
 Evening: Live like Texans in the 1800s! Kids and adventurous adults sleep outdoors in tents, others sleep in the ranch's guest lodge, in twin beds with shared bathrooms, or under the stars on the covered veranda. Cowboy singing and s'mores around a campfire (weather and fire conditions permitting).
   
Accommodations: Spring Creek Ranch
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Final Home-Cooked Breakfast, Farewells
(Friday, June 21)
   
 Breakfast: Early Vaquero breakfast at the Ranch.
 Morning: Vans depart Spring Creek Ranch promptly at 7:30 AM Central time. Shuttle riders transferred to the El Paso International Airport by 11:00 AM Mountain time. All others returned to Mountain Trails Lodge by about 9:00 AM Central time.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Fort Davis, TX Fort Davis
Two historic cemeteries are within walking distance of the Lodge. Participants can walk or drive to downtown Fort Davis, less than a mile from the Lodge. Fort Davis boasts a walking tour of its historic buildings and sites, the Overland Trail Museum, an 1800s broom shop, Davis Mountains Nut Company, and a few gift shops.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


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