I spent the day driving southwest along the eclipse path visiting candidate viewing sites that I had researched prior to the trip. I found them with the help of Google Maps of course, and with the wonderful customization of it for the eclipse by Xavier Jubier. I also bought the most recent version of the DeLorme road atlas for Texas. I actively looked for the places closest to the center line with the longest totality duration. At the time I thought I was two years ahead of schedule, not two years behind! Here are the notes I made.
Oxford Ranch and Campground
Ten miles south of Llano is Oxford Ranch for RVs and primitive campsites. The facilities are minimal: open areas for RVs to park, a few picnic tables, a shower building, some porta potties, and a dusty dirt road that winds through grazing areas with a few shade trees.
RV sites are $30, tent sites $10/person. The owner does not take reservations and does not accept credit cards. He told me that his daughter runs a bed and breakfast in Llano for $100/night (she’ll accept credit cards), but during eclipse week the rates will be $300. Everybody is planning ahead for this.
He is unconcerned about possible eclipse crowds. He’s got plenty of acres to accommodate tents and RVs not needing hookups and expects to be selling day passes for people driving by on eclipse day.
Enchanted Rock, again
Continuing my southbound route following the eclipse path, I re-visited Enchanted Rock state park. This time the visitor center was open and I was able to question the ranger about their plans for the eclipse.
Enchanted Rock is a very nice state park, and there are ample places to observe the eclipse here, but the ranger confirmed that the park is quite popular. There is adequate parking today (I estimated 100 but was told the capacity was 250 vehicles), but I doubt it will be enough for an eclipse crowd. There is camping, (tents only, no RVs), some sites with water, and they can be reserved, but the online reservation system only goes 5-months out. I suspect that there will be a rush to make them at 12:01 am on November 7. One can also reserve a day pass, but that has an even shorter reservation window: 30 days.
The ranger was a little worried about the influx of thousands of people that day, but still looking forward to the event.
Next up was Contigo Ranch, which turned out to be a collection of high end cabins and an event venue in this attractive part of Hill Country. The cabins are uniquely modernized original structures on the ranch. It would be a wonderful place to host an eclipse party, but it would be a luxury eclipse event, and likely beyond my budget. There was no office to inquire, so I’m guessing that arrangements are done via the website.
City on a Hill
This is a collection of five cabins that are offered for vacation getaways in Hill Country. They are more modest than those at Contigo Ranch, renting for about $200/night. I spoke with someone there cleaning the cabins who told me that they have kitchens (toaster ovens), that they were all booked that evening, and that they were fully booked for the eclipse, but there was a waiting list.
By the River Campground
It was late enough in the day that I was contemplating where to stay the night. When I got to the By the River Campground, I immediately wanted to stay here because it was a green and shady campground along the Guadalupe River that runs through Kerrville TX. There is a mix of camping sites from tents to RVs with different levels of hookups, and even some cabins. It reminded me a lot of the Heise Hot Spring campground that hosted us for the last eclipse. Unfortunately it was under construction.
I spoke with someone in the office who told me it was fully booked for the eclipse. Of course, there was a waiting list, and they even hoped to expand their capacity a little by then, but it is becoming quite clear to me that I am too late to find exactly what I am looking for.
Unable to camp there that night, I was forced to continue on by following the beautiful Guadalupe River through Hill Country.
Lost Maples State Park
Another nice state park, a lush setting on the Sabinal River with a campground of 30 sites. The reservation rules are probably similar to Enchanted Rock. I stopped to take a few pictures.