The Big Bend Area of Southwest Texas – June 10-15
Registration Now Open
This trip will be limited to 14 people

Dan Mahr, Chair
CSSA Field Trips Committee


The dates areThe CSSA Field Trips Committee happily announces another excellent opportunity for a quality field experience, this in conjunction with our 2013 convention hosted by the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society. The Big Bend area of southwest Texas is truly Cactus Country, with barrel cacti, mammillarias, echinocerei (hedgehogs), pricklypears and chollas, escobarias, Ariocarpus, Epithelantha, and more. There is an abundance of other succulents as well, such as agaves, yuccas, ocotillo, bromeliads, jatrophas and euphorbias. With such a rich succulent flora, it’s easy to understand why the very first destination of the CSSA Field Trips Program was to Big Bend in 2000, and it is very appropriate to reoffer this destination, now in conjunction with our Texas-based convention. Although the trip is most appropriate for convention attendees (and these will have first priority) any open seats will be available to all CSSA members. June 10-15. The trip will start at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, our convention hotel in Austin, on June 10 with a return to the convention site in time for the opening reception in the evening of June 15. Texas is BIG, and it is a long day’s drive from Austin to Big Bend. Once there, we will spend a full four days touring the area before returning. Note: those people driving to the convention from the west may choose to meet us in Big Bend.

Travel will be in air conditioned vans, a necessity because June is the hottest and driest time in southwest Texas – a perfect opportunity to experience the conditions that our favorite plants must deal with in their native homes. The trip will be limited to 14 people, and all participants are guaranteed a window seat. We are delighted that Borderland Tours has once again agreed to be our tour operator, as they were for our trip in 2000, and also for a post-convention tour of Mexico’s Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) after the 1995 Tucson convention. We are also pleased to have Matt Johnson return as a guide.

Matt Johnson

Matt is a recognized authority and author on the plants of the Sonoran Desert and guided our 2000 Big Bend Trip and our 2009 post-convention tour of Sonora, Mexico. Joining Matt as our second guide will be Steven Lovecky who has guided trips to Big Bend for some of the Texas cactus and succulent societies. Once in the area, our center of operation will be the Chisos Mountains Lodge, the only accommodations within Big Bend National Park, and with the advantage of being at relatively high elevation in the mountains, where the daytime temperatures will be a bit cooler than on the desert floor.

Details at a glance.

  • 5 nights, June 10-15, 2013; 4 full days exploring the region of Big Bend National Park - .
  • Departure and return from the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, our convention hotel in Austin, or drive yourself and meet us in the park.
  • Botanical guides and drivers: Matt Johnson and Steven Lovecky.
  • Tour operator: Borderland Tours: .
  • Departure from Austin will be early morning of June 10; return to Austin will be in time for the convention opening reception on June 15.
  • Registration is limited to 14 participants (not including guides/drivers). The trip may be cancelled if there are fewer than 8 registrants. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • A deposit of $300 per person must be received by the tour operator at the time of registration (see below). Final payment will be due by March 10.
  • Travel will be in comfortable air-conditioned 15 passenger vans, two people per bench seat.
  • Price: $2195 per person double occupancy; single occupancy surcharge of $360. Price covers:
  • All lodging at Chisos Mountains Lodge - .
  • All meals (at Chisos Mountains Lodge. Some lunches may be in the field, conditions permitting).
  • Drinking water will be provided in the vans at all times.
  • Guides.
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff.
  • Ground transportation, including to and from the convention hotel in Austin.
  • Park entry fees.
  • A $200 donation to CSSA.
  • Price does not include:
  • Air travel to and from Austin.
  • Lodging in Austin before departure and after return.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Gratuities for tour staff.
  • Personal items.
  • Trip insurance (recommended).
  • All participants must be CSSA members or associate members, with dues paid for 2013.      
  • First priority will go to convention registrants but all CSSA members are welcome to apply.

Note that conditions during this trip will likely be harsh. June is the hottest time of the year in a very hot, dry environment. The average daily high temperature for June at the park headquarters at Panther Junction is 94°F (34°C); other areas of the park are routinely 10° warmer. Many of the plant stops will require minimum walking, but other hikes may be longer. Hikes could include relatively steep, rocky hillsides. Some hiking will be at moderately high elevations in the Chisos Mountains. On very hot days excursions will be in the morning and afternoon, with midday rest at the lodge. Participants are expected to be in reasonable health and have good mobility. Participants are expected to carry their own luggage to and from their rooms.

Reservations and Registration.

Registration for this tour will be handled directly by Borderland Tours. Registration will NOT be handled by CSSA or through the convention registration process.

Because space is limited, we encourage early registration. A deposit of $300 per person will reserve your spots. Use one of the following four options for registration.

Telephone Borderland Tours at 520-882-7650 and indicate that you are registering for the CSSA Big Bend Trip. You can provide your credit card information for the deposit.

Email to place your name on the registration list; you will be mailed registration information and a registration form.

Download registration information and a PDF registration form from Borderland’s website . Return the completed form with check or credit card information to the address below. For “name of trip” be sure to indicate CSSA Big Bend Trip.
Mail a deposit check along with your full contact information (address, phone number, email address) to:

CSSA Big Bend Trip
Borderland Tours
2550 W Calle Padilla
Tucson, AZ  85745
Make checks payable to Borderland Tours. International participants: contact Borderland Tours directly for electronic bank transfer information.

More information

CSSA Field Trips are not collecting trips.
All U.S. and Texas laws and regulations must be observed.


For information contact
- - Dan Mahr, Chair, CSSA Field Trips Committee
Dan Mahr []






All photographs by Dan Mahr

Echinocactus texensis, Texas horse crippler, withdrawn into the soil during an extended dry period.

A nice clump of Echinocereus enneacanthus enneacanthus.

A young plant of Sclerocactus uncinatus wrightii.

A red-spined plant of Echinocereus dasyacanthus.

A white-spined plant of Echinocereus dasyacanthus

Sunset as seen from Chisos Mountains Lodge.

Agave havardiana, a beautiful "blue" species in the Chisos Mountains.

Echinocereus xroetteri, a natural hybrid sometimes called E. "guerneyi"

Opuntia rufida, the "blind pricklypear" because the glochids can blind grazing cattle.

Epithelantha bokei is one of several small cactus species in the park.

The always-popular Ariocarpus fissuratus.