West Texas and Big Bend National Park
The Davis Mountains are known as the Alps of Texas. Find out why as you discover “Sky Island” forests, complex geology, Big Bend National Park and the human history of Fort Davis.
Rating (5)
Program No. 1948RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
18 meals
7 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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Welcome & Orientation
El Paso, TX
Hyatt Place El Paso Airport

Dinner: Buffet featuring traditional Mexican food this city is known for.

Evening: After dinner, meet the program leaders, review the week's schedule and get to know one another.

El Paso Mission Trail, Chihuahuan Desert Overview
Fort Davis, TX
Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center

Activity note: Bus ride from El Paso to Fort Davis is approximately 3-1/2 hours, with a pit stop along the way.

Breakfast: 6 - 8 a.m. Enjoy the Hyatt Place’s hearty breakfast buffet.

Morning: 8:00 a.m. Depart El Paso. Visit Tigua Indian Cultural Center and tour the oldest Spanish missions in Texas along the El Paso Mission Trail. Learn about early settlers to the bountiful river corridor, Spanish settlement, clashes between cultures, and the famous El Paso Salt Wars along this fascinating trail.

Lunch: Lunch in El Paso.

Afternoon: Travel to Fort Davis; check in to Mountain Trails Lodge.

Dinner: Authentic Tex-Mex cuisine at Cueva de Leon.

Evening: Learn to identify constellations and observe celestial objects in the night sky during a Star Party at McDonald Observatory.

Fort Davis National Historic Site, McDonald Observatory
Fort Davis, TX
Mountain Trails Lodge & Outdoor Learning Center

Activity note: Climb to elevations over 7,000 feet during tours of research telescopes.

Breakfast: In the Lodge dining room.

Morning: Meet in the Gathering Place for a lecture on historic cowboy culture. Travel to Fort Davis National Historic Site, where a volunteer will guide you through this well-restored, civil-war-era fort, which depicts the history of buffalo soldiers, Native American inhabitants and skirmishes, and life at the fort for the families of the guardians of the Butterfield Overland Mail route and San Antonio-El Paso Road.

Lunch: Lunch at the Lodge, provided by Stone Village Market.

Afternoon: Join staff at world-renowned University of Texas McDonald Observatory for a solar viewing program. Tour large research telescopes, including the world's third largest single structure optical telescope: the Hobby Eberly Telescope (HET).

Dinner: In the Lodge dining room.

Evening: Discover the natural world of the Chihuahuan Desert and Big Bend region. Our presenter will explain the different landscapes and ecosystems, and discuss the unique flora of the area.

River Road, The Chinati Foundation, Terlingua Ghost Town
Big Bend National Park
Lajitas Golf Resort

Breakfast: In the Lodge dining room.

Morning: Depart for Marfa. View permanent installations of Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain in the historic buildings of Fort D.A. Russell during a private docent-led tour of The Chinati Foundation.

Lunch: Picnic in the field.

Afternoon: Travel to Lajitas by way of Presidio, passing the historic silver mining town of Shafter and stopping to explore Fort Leaton. Meander the scenic river road that hugs the Rio Grande. Check into the Lajitas Resort & Spa. Later, travel to Terlingua Ghost Town; Indulge in the unique culture that emerged in this community during its unusual rebirth over the past decades.

Dinner: Dinner at the famous Starlight Theater, so named because for years it stood roofless while it entertained dancers and revelers.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, Santa Elena Canyon & Chisos Basin
Big Bend National Park
Lajitas Golf Resort

Activity note: The desert is dry and temperatures can be high along the Rio Grande. Pack your refillable water bottle!

Breakfast: Breakfast in Candelilla Café at Lajitas Resort.

Morning: Discover Big Bend National Park. Your program leader will set the pace depending on the interests and abilities of the group. You will visit the highlights, including the Chisos Basin, Castolon, Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, Santa Elena Canyon overlook, and Panther Junction visitor's center.

Lunch: Picnic in the field.

Afternoon: Continue to explore the vast expanses of this 800,000-acre national park. Participate in an optional hike to a scenic overlook.

Dinner: Enjoy a traditional Mexican dinner at Chili Pepper Café.

Museum of the Big Bend, Marfa Mystery Lights
Marfa, TX
Hotel Paisano

Breakfast: Breakfast in Candelilla Café at at Lajitas Resort.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and return to Big Bend National Park to explore its eastern edge and riparian ecosystem at Rio Grande Village. Leave the national park by way of Marathon.

Lunch: Dig into a hearty picnic lunch enroute.

Afternoon: Travel to Marfa by way of Alpine, stopping to learn about the history and cultures of the region at the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University. On arrival in Marfa, check into the Hotel Paisano, where stars in the movie “Giant” stayed during filming. Enjoy a bit of free time to explore downtown Marfa.

Dinner: Experience the eclectic cuisine of Marfa on your own.

Evening: Meet in the courtyard of the Hotel Paisano and travel to Marfa Lights viewing area to look for the elusive mysterious lights and discuss varying theories and explanations.

El Paso, TX
Hyatt Place El Paso Airport

Activity note: Bus ride from Marfa to El Paso is approximately 3-1/2 hours, with a pit stop along the way.

Breakfast: At a popular local restaurant.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. Discover the interesting history and eclectic culture of this small ranching community that was built as a railroad stop and later played a significant part in the economic and military history of West Texas. Today, Marfa draws visitors who try to explain the mysterious lights and who come to experience the community of artists who followed Donald Judd to the high desert plains.

Lunch: Free time to explore downtown Marfa and try lunch at a local food truck or eatery.

Afternoon: Mid afternoon, meet at the bus to depart for El Paso; check in to Hyatt Place El Paso Airport.

Dinner: At L&J Café, a locals’ favorite Mexican food restaurant in El Paso, across the street from historic Concordia Cemetery.

Program concludes.
El Paso, TX

Activity note: Participants departing from the El Paso airport should arrange individual shuttles through the hotel front desk.

Breakfast: Starts at 6:00 a.m. in the hotel lobby. Program ends after breakfast.

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