Guadalupe National Park: An Unknown National Park

29 Mar
2012
Posted in: Parks, Texas
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I’d never heard of Guadalupe National Park, tucked in the corner of Texas in that spot where the big state slides in between New Mexico and Mexico. And while we spent about 24 hours there, I still don’t know much about the place. We rolled in in a wind/dust/sandstorm that obscured the high peaks and buffeted our van all night. In the morning we woke to a thin little blanket of snow. The high peaks were sacked in by thick, cottony snow clouds.

The range that makes up the Guadalupes was once a reef, buried and then lifted to a max of over 8,000 feet, then unburied. It holds the highest peak in Texas, the 8,700-ish foot Guadalupe Mountain. It’s a hiking paradise, relatively undeveloped with lots of backcountry camping. Reading about the trails, I got really excited about the Devil’s Hall trail, a day hike into a canyon that is ten feet wide and a hundred feet high at its awesomest. There are also multiple springs, and McKittrick Canyon, where unusual bird and plant life can be found. I couldn’t wait to get out there.

But the unexpected snow and the cold, which were expected to last the entire week, prevented us from attempting these or any other hikes. Instead we retreated underground at the nearby, constant-temperatured and wild Carlsbad Caverns. But our future west-return route has now been altered to include a swing back through Guadalupe.

When we arrived, the air was filled with dust and gusts.

When we arrived, the air was filled with dust and gusts. But it was 80, so I didn't really mind.

The remains of an old stagecoach stop.

The remains of an old stagecoach stop.

Paul trying to hide from the wind gusts.

Paul trying to hide from the wind gusts.

Good morning, snowstorm.

Good morning, snowstorm.

The lower end of the Guadalupes. The higher peaks and campground are to the left, under that snow cloud.

The lower end of the Guadalupes. The higher peaks and campground are to the left, under that snow cloud.