Getting There – What to Bring

TSP 2023 Texas Star Party Directions to Prude Ranch, Fort Davis, Texas

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On Prude Ranch near Fort Davis, Texas

LOCATION: Approximately 180 miles southwest of Midland/Odessa and 200 miles southeast of El Paso.

POSITION: 103 56.9′ degrees West Longitude, 30 36.3′ degrees North Latitude, over 5,040′ MSL elevation, (52 minutes west of Central Standard meridian)
Magnetic Declination is 10 degrees East.

MAY CLIMATE: 88.3 F degrees (Average Daily Max), 58.6 F degrees (Average Daily Min), 0.9″ rain/month. May nights are often cold, be sure to bring warm clothes.

ACTIVITIES: Obviously, you’re going for the stars, but there are plenty of daytime activities, including these sightseeing suggestions.

Getting There:

The nearest airports are at Midland/Odessa and El Paso, serviced by American, Delta, Southwest, and United.  Alpine has an airport with irregular commuter airline service.

The Prude Ranch is located on State Highway 118, five miles North from the intersection of SH118 and SH 17 at Fort Davis. You will pass the Davis Mountains State Park on the left when coming from Fort Davis. The Prude Ranch is a mile or two farther on the right on SH 118.

If you approach Prude Ranch from the west (Kent or Valentine TX), you will first pass McDonald Observatory on the left along SH 118. Prude Ranch is on the left after another 9-10 miles. If you pass the State Park on the right, you have gone 1 mile too far.

The street address of the Prude Ranch is:
201 Prude Guest Ranch Road, Ft. Davis, TX 79734

Plan your trip to arrive at the ranch WELL BEFORE DARK, if you are staying on the Ranch or intend on setting up a telescope.

Orientation:

Once you arrive at Prude Ranch, there is one main entrance.

You will have to stop at the front gate and have your Registration for TSP 2022 verified and screened for Covid-19. Our TSP Front Gate Team will compare your Photo ID against our Registration List and Database to confirm you are registered.  Complete any Covid-19 Waiver and General Liability forms you have not submitted online, by email, or simply hand to a Front Gate Staff member your previously completed and signed forms listed above. You will  be issued a TSP 2022 Event Wristband that must be worn throughout the entire Star Party.  If your wristband becomes damaged, you can return to the Front Gate and turn it in for a replacement. Any attempt to remove will destroy the wristband.  Everyone attending, will have to wear a wristband to be on the ranch.  Anyone without a wristband will be asked to leave the ranch. If you are a registered attendee, the Front Gate Team will verify your registration etc… and issue you a wristband. Thank you..

After you have been processed by the Front Gate Team, the next place you will go is to the Ranch Office or an area determined by Ranch Staff (Covid-19 Protocols will be in effect), located in the central compound (1/4 mile drive from the main gate). This will be to check-in, get a site map, and make payment of your Ranch Housing Accommodations.

The Dining Hall is adjacent to the Ranch Office. The TSP Meeting Hall (and TSP Information and Sales Desk) are located behind the Dining Hall. TSP Vendors are located in either The Lodge (north of upper field), The Pavilion (middle field) and/or the Upper Field Demonstration area. The TSP HAM Radio and HAM Staff building is located next to the tall radio antenna tower.

NOTE: TSP Registration is now part of Front Gate Check-in.  Ranch Check-In conducted at the Front Counter of the Ranch Office and separate from TSP Registration and Front Gate Check-In that you may do. Be sure to stop at the Front Gate to have your Registration verified before you enter the ranch. Do not enter the ranch property if you have not been processed by the Front Gate/Registration Team. The Front Gate Staff will issue you a colored TSP Wristband which you must wear at all times during TSP Week.  Anyone found to not be wearing a TSP Event Wristband will be escorted off the ranch and will not be allowed onto the ranch until their registration for TSP Week has been confirmed. Anyone wearing a wristband that appears to be damaged, taped together and/or stretched will be escorted off the ranch.  Go to the TSP Sales and Information desk to pick up important TSP “stuff”! If the Front Gate is not staffed when your first arrive at the ranch, do not enter the ranch property.  Your registration must be verified and your wristband issued and attached to your wrist before you can enter the ranch.

View the TSP Orientation videos!


IMPORTANT! Staying offsite or arriving/departing after 9 PM?
There is no driving on the Ranch at night (due to lighting ban and safety issues)!

The front gates of the Ranch are closed at 9:00 PM to restrict traffic and minimize disturbance to observers. DO NOT plan to arrive to set up at night. Park your car outside the gates (view picture) if you plan to leave during the night.
Use care when parking on the public roadway. Attendees often back-in park (pointing headlights to roadway) to ease departure.
Watch out for road signs and reflective marker posts.


Here are some other useful orientation links:

Review Articles (insights into what might be important):

Camping/Observing Setup:

There are a number of observing fields available. TSP provides AC power lines for telescopes only in:

  • Lower field, south and East of central compound (aerial view),
  • Central field, north of central compound (aerial view), and
  • Upper field, (largest field), near Lodge Building (aerial view)

Central Field

Lower Field

TSP Google Map

Upper Field

Read about Dry-Camping Your Car, Truck, or RV at TSP

Diagram of the Upper field, showing camping and setup guidelines.
Upper field Rules, if you decide to camp or observe here!

Prude Ranch provides Internet Access for attendees in some public areas and near some housing.  DO NOT expect to have access to internet in the observing fields, although there may be some incidental coverage from nearby equipment.

The Front Gate/Registration Team will stop processing attendees at 7pm.

Arriving RV’rs must enter the ranch before 6pm to have sufficient time to locate their RV site and setup their RV. Only park in the RV site that TSP Housing has assigned. And only plug into the electrical service amperage outlet that you were assigned. Offenders could be asked to leave the ranch.

Front gates will be locked after 9:00 PM. If you are staying off-site, please park your car outside the gates before dark (Usually 9pm)!

What To Bring:

  • Warm clothing, blankets, coat Yes it gets that cold at night. Remember the ranch is over 5,000 feet elevation and you are in the desert, low humidity.
  • Raincoat or poncho (yes, it rains too)
  • Ice chest(s)
  • Swimsuit/towel
  • Boots, hiking gear
  • Mosquito Repellent, sunscreen
  • Sheets, pillows, pillow cases, bath towels (except Camp motels)
  • Personal toiletries, medicines
  • Plenty of clothing changes
  • Flashlight with red lens or cellophane
  • Telescope and accessories
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Tools
  • Hair-dryer, anti-dewing device
  • Tarp/drop cloth to cover scope, and tie-downs (I emphasize tie-downs. High winds and dust devils happen. Big heavy scopes and mount get tossed around when these sudden and freakish winds spring up.)
  • Extension cord(s) at lease 25 to 30 feet in length.  I recommend a GFI equipped set of outlets)
  • Star charts and books
  • Chairs, card table, observing tray
  • FM/Walkman type radio including headphones
  • FRS or GMRS Radio – Attendees ch. 6, TSP Staff ch. 15 sub 11

What Not  To Bring:

  • No Campfire Materials
  • No Electric Heaters
  • No Power Generators
  • No Dogs (except service dogs and in RV’s) RV’s exception: Read under Dogs in Rules.
  • No music speakers, except for headphones. Keep your speakers at home.