After surviving our epic trip across Texas, we finally arrived in the dark of night at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, escorted by swarms of bats that we imagined were from nearby Carlsbad Cavern. The last time we were here, we got snowed out. We’ve been looking forward to returning ever since.
So what does the perfect day involve? Well, first you wake up early, before the campground construction workers get started (bad timing on our part). Eat breakfast, drink tea/coffee. Plan hike. Go on hike. Return and eat lunch. Nap. Plan next hike. Go on next hike. Return and eat dinner. Drink some wine, read book/magazine. Go to sleep. I could repeat this process over and over if Guadalupe had showers and if the weather was a bit more hospitable — it was maybe 10 degrees warmer than our last, snowy visit. The tops of the peaks remained shrouded in clouds for the majority of our visit, discouraging us from attempting any hikes involving peaks or views. The night sky is supposed to be amazing here, but we didn’t get a clear night over our two different visits. I guess the park is demanding we return.
If I were more badass, I’d take advantage of the network of backcountry trails and campgrounds that makes up the majority of the park. Given the lack of cars at each trailhead, I’d bet that there currently was no one else hiking in the backcountry. Imagine having acres and acres of wilderness, all to yourself? If backcountry hiking isn’t your thing, then what about being all alone in a field of gypsum sand dunes? These aren’t your kid’s sand dunes either — there’s real adventure here. You’ve got to pick up a key to the gate to the road to the dunes at the visitor’s center, drive there, get lost, then figure out how to get out of the dunes (according to the NPS): “Pay close attention to your route when leaving the dunes. Following the wrong road will lead you away from your vehicle and further into the desert.” You can find real adventures here. If you’re looking for true solitude and great hiking, then Guadalupe Mountains is the spot for you. Just bring layers.