When I decided that my hiking goal was to hike in all the 59 US National Parks, I grouped together parks that are close together and started planning. Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Carlsbad Caverns are less than 50 miles from each other, and less than 200 miles out of El Paso, Texas. Seemed like a no brainer, and was! The fun part starts with picking out the actually hikes. Doing them, of course, is the best of all! I was lucky enough to have perfect weather the whole trip.
My first hike in Guadalupe was Devil’s Hall, at 4.8 miles and about 600′ of gain. A good warm-up hike for the biggie to come the next day. This was my favorite part of a beautiful and scenic hike, a natural staircase of sorts, and pretty tricky to climb:
The Devil’s Hall, a narrow passageway between towering rocks, was shortly beyond this.
Inside the borders of the park is the tallest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. Only natural I should want to bag it! Be sure to heed high wind warnings on this one. As already mentioned, I couldn’t have asked for a better day to visit the Top of Texas!
At 8.2 miles and 3,000′ in gain, it was hardly the toughest hike I’ve ever done, but us New England folk aren’t used to high elevation, being that our highest mountain is 6,000′! So I was sucking wind until I got into the groove. Guadalupe’s elevation is 8,749′.
I loved both of these hikes, but day three, and the easiest hike of the three, McKittrick Canyon, was probably my favorite hike of all. Another stunning day, but a little windier, I had planned to do another tough one, but opted for the reasonably flat 4.2 miler in a different part of the park, just up the road from the Pine Springs Visitors Center.
The white rocks resembled snow, and there’s actually water on this trail, an unexpected joy in a dry and dusty area.
I’ve hiked some parks a lot more than three days, but it’s my minimum for a good sized park, while smaller parks may only require two…or even one. Guadalupe is officially on the “have hiked” list!
Next time: Carlsbad Caverns