202x SAN ANTONIO TO BIG BEND

Road Scholar 20562


Immerse yourself in the best of Texas as you visit remote state and national parks, explore Fort Davis Historic Site and stargaze at the McDonald Observatory. Explore Texas nature and culture from San Antonio’s Riverwalk to the mountains of Big Bend National Park. Cross the Chihuahuan Desert as a naturalist interprets all you see and scale the Chisos Mountains to explore Big Bend’s rugged landscapes. Visit Terlingua ghost town, Fort Davis National Historic Site and much more.

On Your Feet: Hiking up to one mile over varied terrain. Standing up to one hour, climbing two flights of stairs; No porterage. Elevations up to 7,000 feet. For someone like me, only 3 “short hikes” and they are optional. For ME, just two of them.

Best of all, you'll ...
* Explore the darkest skies in the country in a star party with an expert at the McDonald Observatory.
* Travel back in time with a visit to Fort Davis National Historic Site.
* See a wide variety of plants and wildlife as you journey through deserts and mountains of Big Bend National Park.


DAY 1 - Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Activity note: Must be able to walk on uneven surfaces up to a mile each day, handle your own luggage, and climb on and off motor coach without difficulty.

(D) Only a short round-trip flight to San Antonio and return. HOTEL CHECK-IN: Available from 3:00pm. REGISTRATION & ORIENTATION: 4:00p in a hotel conference room. Pick up your Road Scholar arrival packet containing your name tag, up-to-date schedule, list of participants, maps, and other important information we will review. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule, and answer any questions you may have.

During this program, you will explore the rugged beauty of the Big Bend National Park area, learn about the diversity of the geology, plant, and animal life of the area, and get an insider’s tour and a star viewing at the McDonald Observatory, Enjoy the kickback reception on the 2nd floor of the hotel, featuring free hot food and cold drinks.

Meet other participants at a welcome dinner at a restaurant near the hotel. Begin your week with an informative and humorous presentation about the colorful Big Bend region. Hotel: Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

DAY 2 - Travel to Big Bend Region, Scenic Stops, Alpine
Activity note: Travel approximately 400 miles by motor coach, sitting for long periods of time.

(BLD) We enjoy a hot breakfast buffet before boarding our motorcoach. Begin your excursion into the least-populated area of Texas by motor coach. We’ll stop along the way as we cross the scenic Hill Country and enter the dramatic Chihuahuan Desert. A Texas Master Naturalist will be with you on the entire trip and provide instruction about plants, animals and birds of the area during your journey.

Discover what archeologists know about life in this area from over 4,000 years ago during a brief stop at the Lake Amistad National Recreation Area visitor center near Del Rio, Texas. See what art on nearby rock shelter walls can teach us about early human and animal life in the area. Continue your journey across the desert and see first-hand the remoteness of the area. Eat a box lunch as you continue your westward journey.

Heard about "The Law West of the Pecos?" You'll get to see it first-hand with a stop at the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry. Step inside the Jersey Lily and begin your exploration of the desert in the adjacent cactus garden learning how to identify species you'll see along your journey. Continue across the desert and begin to experience the remoteness of the area.

After you arrive in Alpine, you’ll have a well-deserved chance to stretch your legs at your hotel, which features a manager's reception. Then, enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant. A local resident of the Big Bend area will introduce you to issues facing the region. You'll begin to see why some people thrive in the isolated region and wouldn't live anywhere else. Hotel: Hampton Inn Alpine

DAY 3 - Museum of the Big Bend, Star Viewing at McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis
Activity note: Behind-the-scenes tour of observatory involves two hours of walking to and standing in buildings and telescope/viewing areas- some uphill/downhill walking. Evening star viewing in amphitheater area, during which time you can opt to walk to telescopes on plaza, some of which require climbing a few steps to reach viewing platform.

(BLD) Enjoy a hearty breakfast at the hotel in Alpine, named one of the top ten small towns in Texas. We'll begin with a visit to the Museum of the Big Bend to learn about the life, history and culture of the Big Bend area and Northern Mexico. You'll see how the area was shaped by the confluence of cultures brought by Native Americans, Europeans and US citizens. Visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site, where you will develop a new appreciation of Buffalo Soldiers, early settlers, and native inhabitants of the region. Hear about life on a frontier military post, and the importance of mail coaches and freight wagons during the westward expansion of the United States. Visit the post hospital to get a glimpse of frontier medicine.

We'll enjoy a buffet lunch at a guest ranch located on the grounds of a local cattle ranch that is over 100 years old. A long-time resident of the area will talk about life out west and share some of the history of the area. Then head for the hills as you set out for the McDonald Observatory to take a private tour. You’ll see several of the large, state-of-the-art telescopes and hear about the research conducted there, where scientists and university students continue to make important discoveries. After your tour, spend some time looking through exhibits in the visitor center as you contemplate new advances in the world of astronomy.

Dinner in Fort Davis at a local restaurant. You may have some free time to explore the quaint town. Return to the McDonald Observatory for one of their famous star parties. Don’t miss this memorable opportunity to see stars and planets from one of the darkest and clearest night skies in the country with an expert guide. You’ll be able to see some objects with the naked eye as our expert describes objects in the sky, and get a chance to view others through the myriad of telescopes around the plaza. Hotel: Limpia

DAY 4 - Fort Davis; Mexican Border; Scenic Drive; Terlingua
Activity note: Some standing and walking in museum, board motor coach 4-5 times a day with minimal assistance

(BLD) Enjoy a full breakfast at your hotel. Visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site, where you will develop a new appreciation of Buffalo Soldiers, early settlers, and native inhabitants of the region. Hear about life on a frontier military post, and the importance of mail coaches and freight wagons during the westward expansion of the United States. Visit the post hospital to get a glimpse of frontier medicine. We'll head south and make a short visit to quirky Marfa, home of many artists who moved to the area seeking inspiration and tranquility.

We'll eat lunch in the border town of Presidio and learn about the colorful history of this town and its sister city, Ojinaga, Mexico. The drive from Presidio to the Big Bend park area is one of the most scenic in Texas. Sit back and enjoy the ride as you savor the beauty of the remote area. We'll check in to the Lajitas Spa and Resort, and you'll have some time to relax or explore the resort at your leisure.

Dinner is on your own at one of the restaurants at the Lajitas Resort. Your group leader will also offer those who want a lighter meal a chance to go to the nearby deli and general store for lighter fare. Hotel: Lajitas Resort (2 nights)

DAY 5 - Big Bend National Park; Santa Elena Canyon, Terlingua
Activity note: Participants may choose to take a one-mile hike to see the Santa Elena Canyon. The path is uneven in spots. Those who go to overlook will walk up and down a steep hill.

(BLD) Enjoy breakfast at the beautiful Lajitas Resort and Spa. We'll begin our exploration of Big Bend National Park with a scenic trip down the Ross Maxwell Drive. A local expert will tell you about plant and animal life in the area. Marvel at the views offered at the Sotol Vista overlook, then visit Santa Elena Canyon and enjoy one of nature's most beautiful places. If you wish, you may take a short (one mile – so no thanks) hike to a canyon overlook. Those who prefer not to hike uphill may enjoy the beauty of the river banks from below.

A picnic lunch is provided at the Big Bend National Park. We'll continue to explore the remote beauty of Big Bend National Park. You'll have some free time at the Lajitas Resort to relax and enjoy the view.

Our stop at the ghost town of Terlingua includes dinner at the famous Starlight Theater. With little light pollution, Terlingua's evening skies display brilliant stars. The restaurant features a front porch with rocking chairs to sit and admire evening skies.

DAY 6 - Driving & Hiking Big Bend National Park, Visitors Center, Alpine
Activity note: Participants will be given the opportunity to go on a short hike near the Chisos Mountain Lodge. Elevation near the lodge is approximately 5,000 feet.

(BLD) Enjoy breakfast at the beautiful Lajitas Resort and Spa. Return to the Big Bend National Park. We'll head up to the Chisos basin area, where you will see changes in vegetation and wildlife as you rise in elevation. You'll have an opportunity to go on a short hike near the Chisos Mountain lodge, if you wish.

Lunch at the restaurant in the Chisos Mountain Lodge, built in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. We'll visit the Boquillas Canyon area of the park to take a short hike on a nature trail, followed by a stop at the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Your day in the park ends as you head north through the Persimmon Gap section of the park. Say goodbye to the vast park as you exit through the north entrance and end your day of discovery.

Dinner in Alpine as you enjoy your final evening in the big sky country. Hotel: Hampton Inn Alpine

DAY 7 - Return to San Antonio; Farewell Dinner
Activity note: Primarily a travel day. Return to San Antonio via Interstate 10, with occasional rest stops along the way.

(BLD) A hot breakfast at your hotel is included. Bid farewell to the sprawling Big Bend region as you head out by bus. Stop in a scenic Hill Country town along the way.

Stop for a well-deserved rest to stretch your legs and eat a hot lunch along the way. Enjoy some great Texas barbecue and all the trimmings! Complete your return to San Antonio. Your group leader show a movie to watch as you travel and will share some thoughts to wrap up your westward journey. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. enjoy the kickback reception on the 2nd floor of the hotel, featuring free hot food and cold drinks.

Pamper yourself with a catered dinner in at the hotel after the long trip. Your group leader will lead a final discussion and present a slide show of photos collected during the week to wrap up your experience as you enjoy a catered meal. Hotel: Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk

DAY 8 - Program Concludes
(B) Free Time: Optional morning independent activities include a River Walk stroll along our hotel; or visit the Alamo or Historic Market District, which are located within walking distance from our hotel. Departures. Hotel check out is 11:00 a.m.