Tours are scheduled Sep-May. Fees: $15 per person for more than 20 people (children pay half price), $225 per tour for fewer than 20 people, $5 per student for school groups of at least 20 children. Tour dates are available that do not require a minimum number of participants. Individuals who want to see birds and butterflies at their own pace without taking a tour can visit for $5 per day. Visitors should call ahead and let Benito or Toni know they are coming. If the gate is not open when visitors arrive, they should honk loudly. Sidewalks around the patio and butterfly gardens have no steps, making them easily accessible to the handicapped. Benito will assist those with special needs who wish to take a tour.
Rancho Lomitas has primitive campsites and RV camping with full hookups. RV camping fees: $10 per day, $50 per week, $160 per month. Primitive camping: $6 per day.
For more on cooking with native plants, look for Mesquite Country—Tastes and Traditions from the Tip of Texas (Museum of South Texas History, 1996). The book is available for $19.95 at the Museum of South Texas History bookstore in Edinburg; 956/383-6911; www.mosthistory.org.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY NATURE FESTIVALS
Two festivals offer guided tours with experienced experts throughout the Valley to see birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, as well as field trips to Rancho Lomitas. Texas Butterfly Festival, Mission (Oct. 2006); 800/580-2700; www.texasbutterfly.com. Texas Tropics Nature Festival, McAllen (Mar. 30-Apr. 2, 2006); 877/622-5536; www.mcallenchamber.com.