Guadalupe Mountains Natl Park

Friends, I have a confession to make…about addiction.  And no, it’s not just that I have an ice cream problem. (Which everyone knows about anyways!)  I am here before you to announce: I have a Facebook problem.  I did pretty well over the summer (because, you know, no internet!) and while we were at Amazon, I rarely had time to get online.  But, in the last couple weeks, with ample free time, I started finding myself perusing my feed more and more often.   It’s not that  I really enjoyed it, it was just…there…and so easy.  I had a real epiphany when we had just pulled into Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and while I waited for JJ outside the bathroom, I started to pull out my phone to browse.  Just before I unlocked my screen, I realized that my new backyard was so much better than anything online, and what the heck was I doing?!  I put my phone on airplane, and pretty much left it there for the next four days.

And what did we do instead?  We watched every sunrise and sunset, read books, stargazed (and saw shooting stars!), and hiked for miles and miles.  I can’t recommend this lightly-visited National park highly enough, as a marvelous place to decompress and be in nature.  You may have never heard of it, but it should be on your list of places to go to regain your sense of awe.

The Guadalupe Mountains are a beautiful range that tower above the Chihauhuan Desert below, with a wide variety of ecosystems including high desert, canyons with oak and maples, and alpine areas with dense stands of pine.  It’s a hiker’s paradise, with no real roads leading into the mountains.  To enjoy the park, you must hike, which is pretty much how we spent our days.

Devil’s Hall is a scramble through a rocky wash, leading to an impressive set of natural stairs.

McKittrick Canyon is a lush, riparian world of greenery, and leads you to several historic buildings. Pratt Lodge was the summer home of the geologist who owned the land before he donated it to the Parks System. We also saw an even older building, a house that was part of a ranch, long ago.

The high point of our stay, both literally and figuratively, was Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas.  I’ve never been to the highest mountain in a state before, and we saved it for our last day, so as to build up our red blood cells before we made our attack.

It’s a relatively short hike, only 4.25 miles each way, but it gains 3,000 feet of elevation.  We quickly left the high desert, and entered another world, with heavily forested slopes, and lots of snow.

It was a very difficult hike, mostly because we’ve been living at sea level for the last couple months, but the stupendous view made the whole thing worthwhile.

There’s a monument at the top, welcoming you to 8,751 feet.

The best part of our time there was the quiet and solitude.  We only saw about 10 other people the day we hiked the peak, and on the day we hiked the canyon, we were the only ones in the parking lot.

The park is not really on the way to anywhere, and the campground has no showers, so you definitely have to work to make a visit happen there. So glad we went!

We headed west again, aiming for Arizona, but stopped over at a campground that’s part of our camping club in Deming, NM.  After a rather “meh” experience at the last small SKP park we stayed at in Pecos, TX, we weren’t expecting much, but we were happily surprised at how much we liked DreamCatcher RV Park.  We decided to stay for 4 days, to explore and get some chores done.

The highlight of our stay was a trip to Hatch, NM, where the world-famous chiles are grown.  We ate at Sparky’s and had green chile cheeseburgers and a chile mango shake. The town is small but quirky, filled with huge relics of road-sides drives long past, and about a million little shops selling heat in all forms.

Tomorrow, we will head for Tucson again, to get some RV maintenance done, and then spend a week with our friends Dave and Max!


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