Explore the incredible caverns, magical white sands, and unexplained phenomena of America's desert Southwest, while staying on real working ranches, eating West Texas barbecue, and gazing at stars like you've never seen them before.
Day 1 Travel to El Paso, Texas
Arrive at El Paso International Airport and transfer to your hotel nearby and meet your tour manager at 6:00 p.m. for a “Welcome to Texas” dinner in the Cattleman’s Steak House at the working Indian Cliffs Ranch. Meal: D
Day 2 Marfa, Texas
Heading southeast through West Texas, you’ll make a sightseeing stop in picturesque Marfa, home to artists and craftsmen as well as the puzzling “Marfa Lights.” Your destination today is the magnificent wilderness of Big Bend National Park, the eighth largest national park in the “lower 48,” isolated along 118 miles of the Rio Grande, where it makes a “big bend” roughly 325 miles southeast of El Paso. You’ll be guests for the next two nights at the park lodge located in the spectacular Chisos Basin. A delightful barbecue cookout dinner will conclude the day. Meals: B, D
Day 3 Big Bend National Park
As the Park Service puts it, “Here, you can explore one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States, and experience unmatched sights, sounds, and solitude.” Big Bend is a park for hikers, birders, photographers, for lovers of all things natural. Over 450 bird and numerous desert animal species, plus hardy varieties of cacti, wildflowers and other annual plants inhabit these harsh climes. Your guided tour along Ross Maxwell Drive features the Sam Nall Ranch, Sotol Vista Overlook, historic Castalon and breathtaking Santa Elena Canyon.
Day 4 Fort Davis National Historical Park and West of the Pecos Museum
Departing Big Bend, travel north into the Davis Mountains for a visit to fascinating Fort Davis National Historical Park, a major frontier military post established in 1854 to protect travelers, freight and mail from Comanche raiders along the San Antonio-El Paso Trail. Then, stop in the town of Pecos to explore the West of the Pecos Museum. This museum occupies the restored 1896 Orient Hotel and Saloon and features a wide array of western artifacts.
Day 5 Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Today’s featured sightseeing is splendid Carlsbad Caverns National Park, where you’ll descend by elevator for a self-guided tour of the incredible Big Room on a paved trail. This massive, eight-acre chamber has a 255-foot ceiling and is filled with beautiful, delicate formations, as well as huge columns, stalactites and stalagmites. Meal: B
Day 6 UFO Museum and Ruidoso
Continuing north, a visit to the International UFO Museum and Research
Center in Roswell may bring visions of flying saucers and little green men, but your afternoon sightseeing at the Historical Society of Southeast New Mexico will be much more “down to earth.” You’ll be guests for the next two nights of the exceptional mountain casino resort operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe in nearby Ruidoso, offering a wealth of guest facilities. Meals: B, D
Day 7 Billy the Kid Country and the Valley of Fires
A day for varied interests begins as you travel the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway to New Mexico’s Lincoln State Monument, the historic frontier community where Billy killed his guards and escaped from the Lincoln County Courthouse in 1881, only to be shot dead in nearby Fort Sumter by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Next is a visit to the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan to learn the story of America’s original symbol of forest fire prevention. Smokey died in 1975 and is buried here. Finally, sightseeing at the Valley of Fires Recreation Area in Carrizozo showcases the gigantic Malpais Lava Flow. Meals: B, L
Day 8 White Sands National Monument and Old Mesilla
Motoring through the Mescalero Apache Reservation, stop to see the historic St. Joseph Mission en route to Alamogordo. A final sightseeing highlight will be your afternoon visit to incredible White Sands National Monument, an awesome expanse of snow-white, gypsum sand dunes that cover 275 square miles and rise to a height of 60 feet. You’ll travel the 16-mile Dunes Drive and have an opportunity to scale convenient dunes along our route. Overnight accommodations await in Las Cruces, and a delicious “farewell” dinner will be served in historic Old Mesilla. Meals: B, D
Day 9 Fly home from El Paso
A group transfer from Las Cruces to El Paso International Airport for flights home departing after 12:00 p.m. Meal: B