National Parks of New Mexico & Texas
Featuring Big Bend National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, White Sands National Monument

Departing: Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Limited Space

7 Day Package
11 Meals Included

$1499 Per Person / Double Occupancy
$1999 Per Person / Single Occupancy

On this comprehensive journey, we explore the diverse mountain and desert landscapes while learning  about the unique history and geologic phenomena in New Mexico and Texas. While the highlights are certainly the magnificent wilderness of Big Bend National Park, the massive yet delicate caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the glistening white sand dunes at White Sands National Monument, we’ll also visit unique museums, stroll through the eclectic small towns and taste the Southwestern cuisine as we admire Mother Nature’s handiwork in the American Southwest.

 Tour Highlights:  

  • Stay two nights in Big Bend National Park at Chisos Mountain Lodge (with private balcony) with a full day touring the National Park
  • Visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see the huge columns, stalactites and stalagmites, and attend the evening bat flight program
  • Visit White Sands National Monument – an awesome expanse of snow-white, gypsum sand dunes that rise to a height of 60 feet, and tour along the 16-mile Dunes Drive with the opportunity to climb the dunes
  • Visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park with a visit to the Visitor Center and The Pinery Butterfield State Station ruins
  • Memorable meals including dinner at Cattleman’s Steakhouse, lunch in Marfa’s Hotel Paisano and lunch in Old Town Mesilla
  • Visit the Fort Bliss & Old Ironsides Museum, Museum of the Big Bend, McDonald Observatory and the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park

Fine Hotels / Great Locations:

  • Night 1: Hampton Inn East - El Paso, TX
  • Nights 2-3: Chisos Mountain Lodge - Big Bend National Park, TX
  • Nights 4-5: Hampton Inn - Carlsbad, NM
  • Night 6: Drury Inn - Las Cruces, NM
Day By Day Itinerary:
Day 1
Tuesday, 5/8/2018 - Arrive El Paso
Optional transfers from home or our departure points this morning will have us at Los Angeles International Airport for our nonstop flight arriving in El Paso, Texas this afternoon. Those passengers not taking advantage of the optional group air, should arrive at the El Paso Airport by 12:30 p.m. Upon arrival a deluxe motorcoach will be waiting to transport us to Fort Bliss to visit the Fort Bliss & Old Ironsides Museum. The museum features artifacts, vehicles, weapons and an explanation of the history of both the U.S. Army at El Paso and the 1st Armored Division. This evening we arrive at the renowned Cattleman’s Steakhouse for an included Welcome Dinner. Located on a mesa towering above Indian Cliffs Ranch, this world-famous restaurant will take you back to the days when ranch-style cooking was an art form. You won’t find a more authentic western landscape that captivates the spirit of the old west – in fact Hollywood has made many legendary movies on this ranch.

Day 2
Wednesday, 5/9/2018 - El Paso to Big Bend
Following an included breakfast, we’ll travel through the part of the “Lone Star State” that features landscapes that are vast, quiet, and empty. But this is the Chihuahuan Desert – the largest desert in North America – and it is simultaneously unique and geographically diverse. We’ll enjoy an included lunch at Hotel Paisano in the “capital of quirkiness,” Marfa, Texas. This little town of less than 2,000 in the middle of nowhere has gained international fame because of artists, craftsmen, movies and the mysterious Marfa Lights. More recently, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were filmed here but there was that time in 1956 when the cast and crew of the film Giant blew into town with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Dennis Hopper all staying in the Hotel Paisano for several weeks. This afternoon, we continue  to the magnificent wilderness of Big Bend National Park, one of the largest and least visited national parks due to its remote location. The park is located on 118 miles of the Rio Grande River where it makes a “big bend.” We’ll stay the next two nights in the Park at the historic Chisos Mountains Lodge located in the spectacular cliff-surrounded Chisos Basin (5,400 foot elevation). Note that this lodge is the only lodge/hotel in the park and is an historic and rustic national park lodge. It offers a unique and nostalgic experience but may lack some of the amenities we expect from more modern hotels. Your room will not have a television or air conditioning and would be considered “basic.” However it features a private balcony and a location within the park that cannot be surpassed.
Day 3
Thursday, 5/10/2018 - Big Bend National Park
Following an included breakfast we’ll spend the day exploring one of America’s true hidden gems. The splendid isolation of this solitary mountain range surrounded by weather-beaten desert creates a truly magical place. We’ll drive through the heart of the Park along Ross Maxwell Drive, one of those breathtaking national park scenic drives that provides unforgettable stretches of road that unfold before you in a series of vistas and experiences. Highlights of our journey include the Sam Nail Ranch, the Sotol Vista and historic Castalon. The Santa Elena Overlook provides a stunning look down Santa Elena Canyon, cut into the limestone over the eons by the Rio Grande. Marvel at the 1,500-foot- high canyon walls and the fact that the left wall of the canyon is in Mexico, the right in the U.S. Enjoy the balance of the evening at leisure for stargazing from your private balcony! 

Day 4
Friday, 5/11/2018 - Big Bend to Carlsbad
After an included breakfast we journey towards Carlsbad traveling through an area that pioneer ranchers, cowboys, Buffalo Soldiers, Mescalero Apache, and Comanche have all called home. A brief visit to the Museum of the Big Bend, providing an overview of the region’s human occupation that spans the last 11,000 years. Continuing north we’ll climb into the 8,300-foot Davis Mountains, forming a “sky island” of temperate, forested environments amid the arid Chihuahuan Desert. This afternoon we visit the McDonald Observatory with a docent-guided tour of one of the large research telescopes. We continue to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, featuring the world’s premier example of a fossil reef from Permian Era. We’ll visit the Pine Springs Visitor Center and enjoy a short walk on a paved trail to see The Pinery, the ruins of the relay station on the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route. This evening we arrive in Carlsbad, New Mexico. 
Day 5
Saturday, 5/12/2018 - Carlsbad Caverns
Following an included breakfast, we visit the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park for up-close experiences with more than 40 species of animals and hundreds of species of plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert. This afternoon we drive south to the Guadalupe Mountains, an uplifted portion of an ancient reef that thrived along the edge of an inland sea more than 250 million years ago. When sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, more than 100 known caves of all sizes were left behind. We’ll visit the most dramatic of these caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We’ll descend by elevator into the “Big Room” for a self-guided tour on a paved trail of the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. This massive, eight acre chamber has a 255-foot ceiling that is filled with spectacularly beautiful and delicate formations as well as huge columns, stalactites and stalagmites. This evening we’ll congregate in the Bat Flight Amphitheatre to witness the spectacular night flight of the Mexican free-tail bats. This miraculous event begins with a few bats fluttering out of Carlsbad Cavern. Then, in a matter of minutes, a thick whirlwind of thousands of bats spirals out of the cave up into the darkening evening sky.
Day 6
Sunday, 5/13/2018 - White Sands
Following an included breakfast, we’ll journey west into the cool Sacramento Mountains and then down again to the military town of Alamogordo. Here in the heart of the Tularosa Basin is White Sands National Monument, were great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the world’s largest gypsum dune field. We’ll follow the 8-mile scenic roadway through the heart of the dune field with a stop for an included picnic lunch and an opportunity to scale convenient dunes along our route. We continue west through the White Sands Missile Range to Las Cruces. Later in the day we arrive in Las Cruces, nestled in the fertile Mesilla Valley between the majestic Organ Mountains and the meandering Rio Grande. 
Day 7
Monday, 5/14/2018 - Las Cruces & Farewell
Following an included breakfast, we’ll visit New Mexico State University and visit the Zuhl Museum which is home to 1,800 beautiful specimens of petrified wood, fossils and minerals. Then enjoy a Farewell Lunch at the world renowned La Posta de Mesilla in Historic Mesilla. This village hasn’t changed much since it became part of the U.S. in 1854. Billy the Kid once stood trial for murder in a Mesilla courtroom, and the Mesilla Plaza was once a stop for the Butterfield Stagecoach. We continue south to El Paso to board our scheduled nonstop flight to Los Angeles. Those passengers not taking advantage of the optional group air, should plan to depart the El Paso Airport no earlier than 4 p.m. Those with pre-arranged transfers will be returned to their respective drop-offs. 

Tour Inclusions:  

  • 6 Nights deluxe hotel accommodations
  • 12 Meals: 2 dinners, 4 lunches, 6 breakfasts
  • Services of a professional Good Times Travel tour director
  • Comprehensive sightseeing with local guides
  • Admissions per itinerary
  • Transportation aboard a deluxe touring motorcoach
  • Roundtrip airport-hotel transfers (with purchase of group air)
  • Luggage handling throughout the tour
  • Applicable taxes, fees and most gratuities

Additional Information:

  • Join this tour from home, one of the following departure points: CON, FV, LHS, SBL, or meet the group at LAX or in El Paso
  • A deposit of $200 p.p. is required to reserve space
  • Balance payment due 60-90 days prior to departure
  • Roundtrip group airfare available from $395 p.p.
  • Optional LAX transfers available from $69 roundtrip (home pickup available – call for a quote)
  • Travel protection/cancellation insurance is available and highly recommended
  • Tour Pace: On-the-Go (visit our common questions page for details on activity levels)
  • Activity level: High (visit our common questions page for details on activity levels)
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