Day Trips & Beyond: May Events Roundup

It's a great time to get out and explore

Big changes come to Big Bend, a popular swimming hole opens for the season, and there are lots of fun things to do throughout the month.

From the 12-foot-wide opening in the creek bed at Jacob’s Well Natural Area, the cave reaches a depth of 137 feet and 4,500 feet long making it the second-largest fully submerged cave in Texas. Phantom Springs Cave near Toyahvale in West Texas is the largest submerged cave in Texas and in the U.S. outside of Florida. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Cold dip. The water in the second largest fully submerged cave in Texas stays at a constant 68 degrees. Reservations for swimming at Jacob’s Well Natural Area are now being accepted. The swimming season runs from May 1 through September 30. Reservations are required in two-hour increments from 10am to 6pm. Weekends through June are already booked. Non-swimmers can use the park outside of Wimberley for free.
May 1-Sept. 30, Jacob’s Well Natural Area swimming, Wimberley, 512/214-4593,

The new Chisos Mountains Lodge might be functional by fall 2025. (Courtesy National Park Service/Architectural Resources Group)

Chisos Changes. Plans announced in late April by the staff of Big Bend National Park call for the replacement of the Chisos Mountains Lodge by fall 2025. At the April 21 video conference Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker gave the tentative timeline for the demolition of the old lodge and construction of a new lodge as beginning in summer 2023. During the two-year period there will be major disruptions to visitation at the popular Chisos Basin. At this point the stone cabins built in the 1930s and the motel buildings are not part of the $22 million project that is being paid for by the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020.

No design for the new building has officially been agreed up, but the leading contender uses the footprint of the original building. The dining area would be on the second floor with improved views of the Window and Casa Grande.

The old Chisos Mountains Lodge (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The current lodge, which is not really a lodge at all, but mainly a restaurant, gift shop, and lobby area, was built in 1964 and is showing its age. Debbie Cooper with Architectural Resources Group said the structure is slowly sliding down the mountain due to a faulty foundation. The 58-year-old building doesn’t meet any fire or energy codes, and hardly needs minimum ADA requirements.

The public is invited to comment by email on the project and design of the building through May 21, 2022.

Heat warning: As a side note to his presentation, Park Superintendent Krumenaker said the “warm season” in Big Bend has already begun. About a month earlier than normal the temperature is already in the 90s on the desert trails and above 100 degrees along the Rio Grande. Dangerously high temperatures on average continue through mid-September.
Big Bend National Park Chisos Lodge comment period open through May 21; email [email protected]

Travel Notes:

Star bright. What most residents and visitors to Far West Texas already knew is now official – the night skies out there are something special. The Big Bend Sentinel of Marfa reported on April 14 that the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve, which includes parts of northern Mexico, is now the world’s first certified bi-national and the largest International Dark Sky Reserve. The designation recognizes the community’s efforts to protect the night sky from excessive light and comes from the International Dark Sky Association. The communities around McDonald Observatory have jealously guarded the night sky with lighting ordinances going back to the 1970s, according the article by Sam Karas. Speaking of the Big Bend Sentinel and the Presidio International, you can help support local, independent journalism next time you’re in Marfa by purchasing the latest issue while you’re in town or by visiting the newspapers’ restaurant at 209 W. El Paso for breakfast, lunch, coffee, or cocktails between 7:30am and 3pm. Can’t make the drive? Shop online.

Is it rolling Bob? To be alone with you and thousands of our closest friends at the grand opening of the Bob Dylan Center on May 10 in Tulsa, Okla., would be a dream come true. Opening two weeks before his 81st birthday, the depository of all things Dylan contains a gallery of handwritten manuscripts, a screening room of rare film footage, and unreleased music. To complete your visit to northeast Oklahoma the Woody Guthrie Center (exhibiting “Bruce Springsteen Live!” through September 25) is in the same block, and the Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center is an 8-minute walk away. The Dylan Center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm.

Becoming Jane. Few scientists have had as big an impact on conservation as Dr. Jane Goodall. The British primatologist and anthropologist studied chimpanzees for more than 60 years as individuals rather than as research subjects. From May 21 through September 5, The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas presents “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall.” Produced in partnership with the National Geographic Society and the Jane Goodall Institute, this is an intimate look at Dr. Goodall’s extraordinary work and her inspiring life.

Other May Events:

Live Thoroughbred Racing
May 1-29, Grand Prairie,

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
May 1-30, Waxahachie,

“Lonesome Dove” Exhibit
May 1-June 25, Temple,

San Antonio Flavor
May 5, San Antonio,

May 5-7, Anahuac,

Marfa Invitational
May 5-8, Marfa,

Salado Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
May 5-8, Salado,

Black History River Cruise
May 8, San Antonio,

Buccaneer Days
May 5-15, Corpus Christi,

First Friday
May 6, Corpus Christi,

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
May 6-7, Goliad,

Crawfish Bash
May 6-7, Mauriceville,

Hill Country Run Motorcycle Rally
May 6-8, Luckenbach,

Fresh Farmers and Artisan Market
May 7, Bellville,

White Oak School 175th Open House
May 7, Fredericksburg,

Festival of Eid
May 7, Houston,

Underground Sounds with ROCO
May 7, Houston,

“Howdy-Roo” Regional CASI Chili Championship and Lone Star Barbecue State Championship
May 7, Marble Falls,

Honey Bee Jubilee
May 7, New Ulm,

Songwriters Serenade
May 7, Schulenburg,

Free State Historic Sites Day
May 7, Various locations,

Wharton County Courthouse Tour
May 7, Wharton,

Nautical Flea Market
May 7-8, Rockport,

Galveston Historic Homes Tour
May 7, 8, 14, 15, Galveston,

Lavender Fest
May 7-8, Stonewall,

Raptor Center Tour
May 7, 28, Houston,

51st Birthday of the Frozen Margarita
May 11, Dallas,

May 12-14, Stonewall,

Western Heritage Classic
May 12-15, Abilene,

Darden Smith in Concert
May 13, La Grange,

Cajun Fest
May 14, Celina,

Cherry Mountain School Open House
May 14, Fredericksburg,

Robot Day
May 14, Johnson City,

Bluff Schuetzenfest
May 14, La Grange,

May 14, New Braunfels,

Museum Market
May 14, San Antonio,

San Antonio Ford Model T Show
May 14, San Antonio,

Black Heritage Celebration
May 14-15, Dallas,

Train Show and Train Days
May 14-15, Jefferson,

May 15, Amarillo,

Doug Montgomery, Pianist, In Concert
May 15, Fredericksburg,

Tejano Conjunto Festival
May 16-22, San Antonio,

Come and Taste It
May 19, Gruene,

Lee County Fair
May 19-21, Giddings,

Magnolia Days
May 20-21, Columbus,

Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival
May 20-22, Grand Prairie,

Texas Steak Cook-off
May 21, Hico,

Bird Banding
May 21, Lake Jackson,

San Antonio Book Festival
May 21, San Antonio,

Comicon in the Alley
May 21, San Antonio,

Sun City Craft Beer Festival
May 21-22, El Paso,

Old Gruene Market Days
May 21-22, Gruene,

50th Kerrville Folk Festival
May 26-June 12, Kerrville,

John Wayne Birthday Celebration
May 27-28, Winterset, IA,

Crawfish Festival
May 27-29, Fredericksburg,

Memorial Day Weekend Stampede Parade and Rodeo
May 27-29, Bandera,

Crider’s Rodeo and Dance Hall Opening Night
May 28, Hunt,

May 28, Navasota,

Rockport Wine Festival
May 28, Rockport,

Audie Murphy Days
May 28-29, Greenville,

Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page and follow him on Facebook.

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