B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Monday, 16 Oct 2017: Arrive Midland-Odessa Airport, TX; Welcome Reception (R)
Schedule your arrival no later than 4:00pm and take local transportation to the hotel. The tour will begin at 6:00pm in the hotel lobby where we will make introductions and enjoy a reception with light snacks and a drink. Afterward your WTT Tour Leader will have dinner suggestions for anyone who is still hungry. Overnight Midland TX - 1 night
Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017: Big Bend National Park; Scenic Walking Trails & Overlooks (B,D)
We depart this morning for the magnificent wilderness of Big Bend National Park, one of the largest and least visited national parks due to its remote location. It is a destination for hikers, birders, photographers, and lovers of nature. We’ll spend some time along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which showcases some of the historic and geologic features this region is famous for and offers many scenic overlooks, trails and exhibits along the way. Overnight Big Bend NP - 2 nights
Wednesday, 18 Oct 2017: Big Bend National Park - Float Trip on the Rio Grande (B,D)
An early departure this morning will take us to our float trip on the Rio Grande. Deep in the southwestern corner of Texas, the Rio Grande enters an arid, no-man’s-land of deserts and canyons that for centuries has been considered godforsaken. For rafters however, there’s liquid gold in these hills. The river winds through canyons as deep as 1,500 feet and open range land with views of faraway mountains, offering one of the country’s top river trips.
Thursday, 19 Oct 2017: Big Bend to Carlsbad with Stop in the Artist Town of Marfa, TX (B)
After a leisurely morning we head for New Mexico. We’ll make a stop in picturesque Marfa, home to artists and craftsmen as well as the puzzling “Marfa Lights.” Established in 1883 as a water stop for the San Antonio Railroad, this one-horse town has become an international destination for art lovers over the last few decades. In the 1970s, minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa and began creating giant works of art. We continue on to Carlsbad with stops at your Tour Leader's discretion. Overnight Carlsbad - 3 nights
Friday, 20 Oct 2017: Carlsbad National Park; Bat Flight Program or Sky Watching (B,L,D)
High rising ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, cacti, grasses and thorny shrubs...who would imagine the hidden treasures deep beneath this rugged landscape? Secretly tucked below the desert terrain are more than 119 known caves, all formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone. Today we’ll descend by elevator for a self-guided tour on a paved trail of the incredible Big Room. 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. Late in the day we’ll congregate in the Bat Flight Amphitheater to witness the spectacular night flight of the Mexican free-tail bats (subject to migration schedules). This miraculous event begins with a few bats fluttering out of Carlsbad Cavern and in a matter of minutes, thousands of bats follow and spiral up into the darkening evening sky. If the bats aren't flying, it's an opportune time for sky watching. The sky above the caverns is devoid of light pollution due to its location far from city lights. We may be treated to views of the Milky Way and thousands of stars visible to the naked eye.
Saturday, 21 Oct 2017: Carlsbad Caverns National Park - King's Palace Tour; Free Time (B,L)
Today is your opportunity to take advantage of ranger-guided tours. On the King's Palace tour we will leisurely stroll a paved pathway through four naturally decorated chambers of the cave with a ranger. We will descend to the deepest portion of the cavern open to the public. We will observe various cave formations explained by our guide. Rangers frequently conduct "black-outs" during this tour, briefly turning off all artificial lights to reveal the natural darkness of the cave. The park rangers offer a variety of tours with varying levels of difficulty for you to explore in your free time.
Sunday, 22 Oct 2017: Living Desert Nature Walk; Return to Midland, TX; Farewell Dinner (B,D)
We spend time this morning exploring desert life. Living Desert State Park has one of the best collections of desert life in the American Southwest. Several nature trails lead past cacti, agaves, yuccas, trees and bushes, including the distinctive spiky ocotillo after which the surrounding hills were named. After lunch, it's back to Midland, TX where we will spend the night near the airport for convenience. Overnight Midland - 1 night
Monday, 23 Oct 2017: Return Home from Midland, TX (B)
Sadly, our adventure has come to an end. The hotel provides a convenient airport shuttle. Each traveler should determine when they need to depart the hotel based on her flight time, allowing approximately 1.5 hours at the airport. Make arrangements through the hotel’s front desk for your desired departure time.