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STARGAZE 2019, an astronomy and art adventure in West Texas

May 15-19, 2019 - ,
Trip length5 days
Ticket typeAll inclusive
Group size15
LodgingShared Double or Non-Shared Single Occupancy

An extraordinary experience at Big Bend National Park.

Enjoy the incredible beauty of the Rio Grande. Majestic mountains, beautiful riverscapes, and stark desert views. Experience the vibrant art culture in the small West Texas town of Marfa, and explore the night sky with experts from the famed McDonald Observatory at an evening star party. If that sounds awesome, it's all in addition to the extraordinary hiking and friendships you'll find along the way. Of course, if you're excited to catch up on some reading or catch a few extra zzzs, that's fine too. Choose as much or as little adventure as you want!

Itinerary

Day 1 - Travel to Big Bend National Park + Window View Trail

Enjoy the comfort of a premium coach as we set out at 8:30a from Austin towards Big Bend National Park. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch (as well as on-the-road snacks) on the way, and arrive at Chisos Basin Campground with enough daylight to set up camp, and take an optional short group hike to Window View Trail. Then settle in with new friends for dinner and a relaxing campfire.

Day 2 - Explore Big Bend + Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive + Chihuahuan Desert + Rio Grande

After a hearty breakfast, the park is yours to explore. If self exploration is your thing, grab a buddy and hit the trails. With mountain, desert, and river hikes, Big Bend has everything for your hiking appetite. Want to see the famed Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive? Set out through the park with fantastic views of the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and Rio Grande. There are scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way, and the short walks to Sam Nail Ranch and Homer Wilson Ranch and a visit to the Castolon Historic District will give you a glimpse into Big Bend’s past.

Day 3 - McDonald Observatory + Star Party at Rebecca Gale Telescope Park

Wake up to the small of fresh coffee, and get ready for another exciting day of adventure. This isn’t an ordinary day, however. We’ll begin the day exploring some of the mountain trails, and end the day with a Star Party at the McDonald Observatory. Enjoy night sky constellation tours and views of celestial objects through a number of telescopes (varying in size up to a 24-inch Ritchey–Chrétien telescope) in the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park. It’ll be a late night as we head back to camp and enjoy good company and maybe some more stargazing!

Day 4 - Marfa, Texas + Art Walk + Prada Art Installation by Elmgreen and Dragset

After refueling with your favorite breakfast items, it’s off to Marfa, the famed artsy city of west Texas. We’ll arrive in Marfa around noon for some self-guided exploration after visiting the much-photographed Prada store in the desert (art installation). Then, we’ll meet up in the late afternoon for the trip back to camp. Want to explore more of Big Bend National Park or relax around camp instead of heading to Marfa? That’s A-OK. The trip to Marfa is optional. After a big day of adventuring or relaxing, it’s time for dinner and relaxing by the fire — another epic day in the books.

Day 5 - Final day at Big Bend + Travel to Austin

Wake up will be a little earlier today so we can enjoy breakfast together and break down camp. Then it’s time to pack up and head back towards Austin Texas for an evening arrival (around 8p).

The Location

Chisos Basin Campground, perched high in the rugged Chisos Mountains, is one of the most sought-after campgrounds in Big Bend National Park. At an altitude of 5,400 ft., the campground is surrounded on all sides by tall, rocky cliffs and is conveniently located near some of the park’s most spectacular and popular trails. This campground offers excellent views and mild temperatures. Also found in the Chisos Basin area is the Chisos Basin Visitor Center, the General Store and the Chisos Mountains Lodge, which houses the only restaurant in Big Bend National Park.

What's Included

These parts of the experience are included

  1. Three meals a day and snacks
  2. Spacious rainproof tent
  3. Professionally cleaned sleeping bag + sleeping pad
  4. Flashlight for personal safety
  5. All camping fees
  6. All transportation for the duration of the event
  7. Scheduled tour admissions
  8. Event swag

What's not included

Your flight is not included in the ticket price. (We recommend using Kayak or Google Flights to search for your air ticket.) Plan to be at  at 12:00 am on May 15, and depart no earlier than 11:59 pm on May 19. We will drop off on May 19 directly to .

Consider as you sign up

To protect your travel investment, we recommend the purchase of travel insurance.
Additional terms and conditions apply.
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"Mendel and his crew have created something special with this. It manages to be thrilling, adventurous, inclusive and safe all at the same time. I had a blast and I can't wait for my next geek adventure." - Cameron Cutler

Accommodations

Lodging

All tickets include rental of everything you need to comfortably tent camp:

  • Coleman Sundome 3 person tents (2 people per tent unless otherwise requested).
  • Sleeping bag, pad, flashlight.
  • Utensils, plates, cups, and other mealware are included.
  • Free tent camping is included with your ticket price.
  • All meals + snacks are included.
  • Lawn games are included

Are there showers and restrooms?

Restrooms are a short walk from the campsite in the main camping area. Solar showers will be made available for use by all campers.

Food

All meals are included. Accommodations will be made for dietary restrictions (i.e. vegetarian, gluten, dairy, allergies, etc). Please fill out the relevant information in your welcome survey and we will do our best to accomodate your needs. Three meals and snacks will be provided each day.

Sample Menu

Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, pancakes or potatoes, coffee / tea

Lunch – Cold cut or peanut butter sandwich, fresh fruit and veggies, chips, soda

Dinner – Foil packs (hamburger, fresh veggies), yellow seasoned rice, soda, dessert: S’mores

Waving hello from the top of Iceland ;-)

"I never wanted this event to end because it felt like the beginnings of some really excellent friendships. Hiking, sitting around a bonfire, laughing and eating with everyone was amazing and inclusive." - Jackie M.

Packing List

Below is a list of suggested gear to bring with you on your trip. It’s not an exhaustive list, just a list that will help make sure you have the essentials.

As you pack, think about these two ideas:Assume there might be precipitation. Backpacks should have waterproof covers (some are built into backpacks, so check yours), hiking boots should be waterproof, and clothes should be made of quick drying material (denim is ok to bring for a night on the town, but won’t be comfortable during a hike if they get wet). Temperatures can vary between day and night, and from day to day. Think about dressing in layers (3-5 top layers that can be taken off and put on throughout the day).

Clothing

  1. Waterproof / windproof jacket
  2. Lightweight fleece / jacket
  3. Short sleeved t-shirts
  4. Hiking pants
  5. Athletic shorts
  6. Hiking socks

Shoes

  1. Athletic and/or trail shoe
  2. ‘Around camp’ shoe
  3. Flip flops

Accessories

  1. Hat
  2. Swimsuit
  3. Towel

Misc

  1. Small day backpack with rain cover
  2. Tote / bag for shower supplies
  3. Personal items / toiletries
  4. Sleep mask
  5. Portable battery
  6. Charger for phone / camera / etc
  7. Water bottle
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Sunscreen
  10. Insect repellent
  11. Bandanna
  12. Camera

Reserve Your Spot

Solo travelers are welcome and will be roomed in shared accommodations based on gender preferences (if you'd like to be roomed with a companion, select a shared ticket and let us know your friend's name after registration). If there are no shared accommodations available, no additional fee will be charged as a single supplement. If you are a solo traveler and prefer to guarantee accommodations without a roommate, please select 'single occupancy'.

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"I loved the atmosphere of professionals getting together to decompress. Even though we were from different backgrounds, we all share a love of nature and nerdom!" - Alicia from Phoenix, AZ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If I’ve never camped before, should I still sign up?

Most Geek Adventures camping trips have about a 50/50 mix of campers vs. people that have never camped. That mix creates a nice environment for learning how to camp for the first time. In short, beginners are welcome!

Do I have to work in tech to feel comfortable attending?

No way! While there are many people in tech related industries that attend, people from academia, sciences, property management, and other industries also attend. Everyone has one thing in common, though -- they want to disconnect from the daily grind (and technology).

What is the gender distribution?

Geek Adventures trips are normally about 50/50 people identifying as female/male. No matter how you identify, you are always welcome.

Where do people travel from to attend these events?

We've had participants from all over North America and Europe and expect to see more geographical diversity from attendees in the future. International trips tend to see a larger international turnout than United States domestic trips.

How many years have you been in business?

Geek Adventures started operations in 2016 and has been creating experiences for geeks ever since.

I would like to room by myself, is that possible?

While all participants are encouraged to room with others during the trip, sometimes people prefer to room by themselves for a variety of reasons. If you're one of those people, please get in touch and we can work out an accommodation.

How does room / tent sharing work?

If you're a couple traveling together, we'll make sure you're bunking together. If you're a solo traveler, we make rooming assignments based on your preference, and then based on complementary interests from the intake survey. You will never be placed in a mixed gender sleeping arrangement unless you've indicated you're ok with it.

Why do people attend Geek Adventures events?

Here's a sample from previous attendee registration forms -- human connection, decompression, new friendships, inspiring conversations, networking, great conversations, awesome people disconnected from the world, explore new places.

Are children / families allowed at events?

Unless specifically noted, trips are designed for attendees 21+. Hiking with Geeks, the free local hiking groups around North America are designed for attendees 18+ or younger children when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Does a digital detox mean no cell phones?

Not exactly... we realize mobile phones are needed for safety and picture taking, we just ask that during an event, you try to disconnect as much as possible from the other stuff. Example: If you normally read on your phone, bring a book instead. If you normally play games on your phone, pick up a game at the event and play in person! You'll be happy you did.

Is alcohol allowed?

All events are BYOB. Alcohol is allowed, and sharing is encouraged. We've found that cans are far easier to take on adventures than bottles, so please plan accordingly.

Have another question? Get in touch.

Trip Photos