Our adventure begins at 7am in the multi-cultural border city of El Paso, Texas. Following introductions, we load luggage into our support van and drive to Marfa, a world-renowned Minimalist art center. We take time to view the permanent collection of artist Donald Judd at the Chinati Foundation, then continue to Alpine, the Gateway to the Big Bend. A visit to the award-winning Museum of the Big Bend provides insights into this incredible region. We cap the day with an ascent of Hancock Hill for panoramic views of Alpine and the surrounding mountains. There is time for a stroll through town or to relax at our lodgings, the historic Holland Hotel, before we gather for dinner. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 2.5-3.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 200?; Transfers: 3.5 hours.
We set out for Big Bend National Park and our ?rst hike at Persimmon Gap Draw. This often-overlooked treasure features outstanding views of the oldest exposed geology in the park. We visit the park?s Fossil Bone Exhibit, which celebrates 120 million years of paleontological history, and the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Our afternoon hike climbs through Panther Pass to the Lost Mine Trailhead where we take in spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains. We spend the next two nights at Chisos Mountains Lodge, nestled inside the mile-high Chisos Basin, completely encircled by towering pinnacles of volcanic origin. Big Bend is internationally recognized as a Dark Sky Park, so we take time in the evenings to stargaze. All meals included.
Hiking 6.8 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 1,300?; Transfers: 2 hours.
Today we discover the most famous hike in all of Texas: the South Rim Trail. The biological diversity and geologic history add to the grandeur of the Chisos?a true ?sky island? surrounded by an ?ocean? of Chihuahuan Desert. This is the only mountain range in the U.S. which is fully contained within the boundaries of a national park. Throughout the day we are rewarded with countless dramatic viewpoints, including those from the South Rim which spans miles into the distant Sierra del Carmen Mountains of Mexico and thousands of feet below to the Chihuahuan Desert ?oor. Returning to our lodge, we dine and take time for stargazing. All meals included.
Hiking up to 12 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 2,000?.
Today we experience a ?triple treat? and explore Big Bend?s mountains, desert and river ecosystems - all in one day. We begin hiking on the Window Trail, which descends through a canyon sandwiched between majestic mountain peaks. Photo opportunities abound as we make our way out of the Chisos Basin and onto the desert ?oor via the picturesque Oak Springs Trail. Utilizing a trail not found on maps, we picnic under the shady trees of a desert oasis. Next, we take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Santa Elena Canyon. A short hike showcases sheer limestone walls that tower 1500? above both sides of the Rio Grande River. The day ends at our accommodation in a restored mansion in the ghost town of Terlingua. All meals included.
Hiking up to 10 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 740? elevation gain and 2,100? elevation loss.
The Mesa de Anguila Trail is a hidden gem seldom explored by visitors to Big Bend National Park. The mesa sits high atop Santa Elena Canyon and marks the western border of the park. Our hike provides fantastic views of the bends of the Rio Grande, a brilliant example of how the park got its name. We visit the Barton Warnock Center to learn more about the region?s incredible natural history, and then drive along the Camino del Rio. The road twists and winds with the Rio Grande, crossing arroyos, climbing mountains, and hugging canyon walls. Reaching Big Bend Ranch State Park, we discover the beauty and diversity of this massive 311,000 acre park. Returning to Terlingua, there is free time to explore the Ghost Town before we gather for a farewell dinner at the iconic Starlight Theatre. All meals included.
Hiking 6 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 900?.
This morning we begin our return to El Paso. We travel the Texas Mountain Trail to Fort Davis to explore Fort Davis National Historic Site, one of the finest examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest. During our visit we learn how the fort served to protect settlers during the great westward expansion of the 1800?s and hear stories about legendary residents such as the Buffalo Soldiers. We hike on trails that offer fantastic panoramic views of the fort and nearby Davis Mountains. Following a picnic lunch, we transfer to El Paso with a planned arrival time of 4:30pm. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking 2.5-3 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 320?; Transfers: 5 hours.