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2000-acre China Spring ranch opening for public camping during eclipse

A stream running through Talbert Ranch.
Posted at 6:25 PM, Feb 01, 2024

CHINA SPRING, Texas — Many experts are saying Central Texas is one of the best spots to view the eclipse this April, as part of Texas will be on the path of totality — and travelers are already booking up places to stay.

Locals, on the other hand, are finding new ways to show southern hospitality.

2000-acre Talbert Ranch is almost as old as the state of Texas itself.

“Talbert Ranch was established back in 1887, so it’s very sentimental," Tracy Talbert Larsen said.

"My grandfather was born on this property."

Tracy and her family are all about showing hospitality to friends and family, and showcasing their ranch when the opportunity arises.

A new opportunity for them is around the corner for the eclipse on April 8.

"Well, we see that the hotels were filling up, and we had people we knew who wanted to come out," Talbert Larsen said.

"We ran out of room in our house so we were like ‘Well, how do you guys feel about camping?' — so once we had those friends kind of locked in, it just seemed like an easy thing to expand out to the public.”

Tracy says they have a handful of reservations, but more and more Central Texans are opening up their homes and properties to travelers and campers for the eclipse.

“We held a town hall last year to kind of talk about some of the options for property owners, and many of them have gone ahead and opened up their ranches, or maybe they have just a pasture, and they’re allowing people to what’s called ‘boondock’ where you come in with an RV," said Assistant Director of Tourism with the City of Waco, Carla Pendergraft.

"You’re completely self contained and you don’t really need any services."

Talbert Ranch will only be primitive camping, so don’t forget your tent.

They’ve had people from across the U.S. — and even Japan — who want an authentic Texas experience.

Tracy says they’re looking ahead to what future opportunities could be held on the ranch, but at the end of the day, it’s important to her and her family to preserve the soul of her family’s ranch.

“Family heritage — that was very important to us and trying to keep it together — keeping it working and productive and have it all stay in the family," she said.

Campers at Talbert Ranch will have to sign a waiver just to let them know this is still a working ranch with livestock on it.

If you’re looking to follow in their footsteps and open up your home or property to campers, Carla recommends checking with your local municipalities, governments, and insurance companies to see what’s needed, like permits or inspections.