TPWD News Release — Sept. 23, 2010
PRESIDIO – Live the lore of the Old West by saddling up for the biannual Longhorn Cattle Drive taking place Oct. 21-23 in Texas’ largest state park – Big Bend Ranch. This fall marks the 16th year of the state park’s most popular program that attempts to expose “city slickers” to the Southwest’s cowboy culture.
Participants, some inexperienced “dudes” and others more accomplished equestrians, spend three days helping Big Bend Ranch wranglers round up, drive and pen the park’s historic longhorns for vaccinations and branding. Over the years, hundreds of guests have come from throughout the United States, as well as from Australia, Canada and England, to experience a taste of the Texas’ ranching heritage and the Wild West days at the more than 300,000-acre wilderness park.
The state park program can accommodate up to 15 wranglers. The cost of the three-day event is $975, which includes a horse and tack provided by a Big Bend area outfitter, park entry fee, lodging/camping fees, meals and the assistance of park wrangler guides.
Program participants will meet at 10 a.m., Thursday at Sauceda, the Big Bend Ranch headquarters. They receive an orientation to the ranch and cattle drive program, receive safety instruction and saddle up their mounts before riding to the pastures to start rounding up the longhorns. Cowhands can camp beneath the stars that night or return to the bunkhouse at Sauceda for the night.
On Friday morning, participants finish rounding up the cattle and drive them to the cattle pens at Sauceda to be “worked.” A chuck wagon meal and cowboy entertainment each evening enhance the West Texas cowboy experience.
After a hearty breakfast the next morning, the dudes help ranch wranglers sort the calves from the bulls and heifers, and after receiving instruction, vaccinate, brand and ear-tag the cattle. Wranglers can then retire to the bunkhouse for rest or help drive the herd back to the pasture before heading home. Participants are welcome to come a day early and/or stay a day late but are subject to regular park fees.
Reservations are required and must be made by contacting the Customer Contact Center in Austin at (512) 389-8919.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is located in far west Texas just northeast of Presidio off State Highway 170.