Pre-Convention Trip to Big Bend area of South Texas June 10 – 15: Limited to 14 participants [INFO]

All tours are on Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tour #1:  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin) ($55)

Tour an iconic Austin landmark founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson (the former first lady of the U.S.) and actress Helen Hays, approximately 20 minutes from the Sheraton. Opened at its current location in 1995, the center continues Mrs. Johnson’s mission to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers. Operated by The University of Texas at Austin, the facility has 279 acres of gardens, meadows, hiking trails and nearly 80 acres of research plots. The gardens have about 650 species of native plants, including cacti and other succulents. The docent guided walking tour will last about 60 minutes, including information about the history and mission of the Wildflower Center. The guided visit covers a quarter mile and is accessible to those with disabilities. Guests will be free to hike the longer trails and explore the gardens and grounds on their own following the formal tour.

Tour #2: Westcave Preserve (Round Mountain) ($60)
Tour one of the natural gems of the Texas Hill Country in Southwestern Travis County, approximately 45 minutes from the Sheraton.

Westcave Preserve is a place of unique, majestic beauty and ecological diversity. This 75 acre park is the site where two distinct ecosystems meet on a tributary of the Pedernales River. The Preserve’s grasslands are scattered with wildflower meadows, ash junipers, oaks and cactus bordering a sheltered limestone canyon punctuated with rare plants and giant, centuries old cypress trees. The highlight of the site is a 40 foot waterfall backed by caves, tumbling over fern-covered travertine columns into an emerald pool. Visitation to the canyon trail is by guided tour only. The hike is a little less than a mile roundtrip and takes about one hour and 45 minutes. The upper portion of the trail is fairly flat. The lower portion of the trail, including the decent into the canyon of 100 plus steps is somewhat strenuous. The area around the waterfall and cave has steep and uneven footing. The lower portion of the trail is not accessible to those with disabilities.

This tour is not recommended for individuals who are uncomfortable on terrain that is steep and uneven.  This tour is limited to 50 participants.

Tour #3: Pedernales Falls State Park (Johnson City) ($65)
Tour one of the most popular state parks in the Texas Hill Country on the Pedernales River, approximately one hour west of the Sheraton. Pedernales Falls is the park’s main attraction and may be viewed from a scenic overlook from the north end of the park. In this area, the elevation of the river drops about 50 feet over a distance of 3,000 feet, and the cascading falls are formed by the flow of water over the tilted, stair step effect of layered limestone. Wildlife in the park includes deer, coyotes, rabbits, armadillos, skunks, opossums and raccoons. More than 150 species of birds have been seen in the park. A guided tour will include habitats for native cacti and other succulent plants. Access to those with disabilities is limited in the park.
This tour is limited to 50 participants


Tour #4: San Antonio Botanical  Garden (San Antonio) ($70)
Tour one of the premier botanical facilities in the State of Texas. The San Antonio Botanical Garden was founded in 1980 on 38 landscaped acres in the center of San Antonio, approximately one and a half hours from the Sheraton. Participants will have a guided tour of the Formal and Display Gardens (including the rose garden, old fashioned garden, sensory garden, Japanese garden, sacred garden and shade garden), the Lucile Halsell Conservatory (including plants from desert regions to rainforests housed in individual glass buildings tucked into the earth) and the Texas native Trail (including plant communities characteristic of the Texas Hill Country, East Texas Piney Woods and South Texas). The garden center is accessible to those with disabilities.
This tour is limited to 50 participants.


Tour #5: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area ($80)
Tour this 640 acre park, the site of one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States. Located 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, approximately two hours from the Sheraton, Enchanted Rock is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome that rises 425 feet above ground. The park is home to a wide variety of plant species, including cacti and other succulent plants, as well as many species of animals and birds. Attendees will have the option of a walk around the base of the rock, that is fairly flat, to view plant life or a hike up an exposed granite “trail”, that is very steep and uneven in places, to the top of the rock for a breath taking 360 degree view of the Texas Hill Country. Access to those with disabilities is limited in the park. This tour is not recommended for individuals who are uncomfortable on terrain that is steep and uneven.   This tour is limited to 50 participants.