One for the record books

Visitors gather at the Starlight in Terlingua. 

Although hard numbers aren’t in yet, most agree this year’s spring break will be a record breaker.

Visit Big Bend Director Robert Alvarez called this year’s spring break season in Brewster County “better than ever, nonstop.”

He said although spring break was always a busy time, because of the pandemic situation loosening up and so many people receiving the COVID vaccination, visitors felt more comfortable traveling and wanted to get away from urban areas to the great outdoors.

Alvarez noted that South County and Marathon were at capacity for the two main break weeks, and every hotel and short-term rental had waiting lists.

“Even campgrounds were full,” said Alvarez. “I got a report from the National Park that campgrounds inside the park were booked until May, and it doesn’t slow down until June.”

Numbers won’t be in until April 20, but Alvarez added, “It came together very well for us. I’ll be excited to see those final numbers. I don’t know how it could have been any better.”

South County businessman Bill Ivey also called it a record year, noting that tourists were spending more money than ever before. He said South County was overrun with visitors, but that was typical for that time of year.

“That’s been going on for decades. If there’s a motel room, it’s filled. But there are more accommodations in the area then there ever have been,” he said.

The Big Bend can accommodate larger numbers of visitors now because there are more Airb&bs, several additional campgrounds, and a new RV park, so more people have more places to stay.

“Every spring break that I can remember has been filled to capacity. Whatever the capacity is, it will fill up,” said Ivey. “I heard that Alpine, Marfa, and Fort Davis were all full. I talked to someone who was staying in Sanderson – that was the closest motel room he could find.”

He added, “People are tired of being cooped up. They want to get out, and the entire Tri-County is a wonderful way to do that. And they’re so glad to come to an area where it’s actually open, and not just open, but with plenty of wide-open spaces. It’s a safe and comfortable place to go for vacation.”

Big Bend National Park Interpretation and Visitor Services Chief Tom VandenBerg said the park was very busy, and he felt that records were being broken. During most days, the park had around 1,000 vehicles enter each day.

“All in all, it’s a spring break that will go down in the history books,” said VandenBerg.

City of Alpine Tourism Director Chris Ruggia felt business in Alpine might have been “a tiny bit less busy than usual,” but quite good overall.

“In some cases I’ve heard people were not spending a lot of time indoors in businesses in favor of outdoor activities, but for the Holland and Maverick, as two data points, the season started earlier than they expected, and they were mostly full,” said Ruggia.

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