Park Number: 33/59
First Visited: July 4, 2012
It surprised me, the Yellowstone ranger saying his favorite place to hike in the country is Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I guess I never got to the higher elevations, but to me the mountains seemed lackluster—too dry. Also, on my first visit, I was hiking alone, my cohort asleep in the camp, as I progressed up the Devils Hall Trail. I was paranoid: seemed like mountain lion country. On my second journey, I adventured to Smith Spring with my dad and brother. It was nice to have company, to rejoice in the life-giving water of the spring. And the Texas madrone trees—there’s nothing like them.
What the park preserves, however, is more nuanced. And amazing. Much of the mountains you’re looking at—the highest peaks in Texas—are ancient reef. This area was once underwater and you can see the remnants in the rock: fossilized sea life.
Unfortunately for Guadalupe Mountains, it’s sandwiched between the more charismatic parks of Carlsbad Caverns and Bid Bend. It’s often overlooked and ignored. But it needs attention. It needs time for the trails. I need to get back and give it the diligence it deserves.