Yet another park that is on the list of the least visited National Parks that shouldn’t be! We definitely lucked out with the weather but no matter what, people are missing out if they don’t visit this place.
After we drove up from Big Bend, we stopped into Carlsbad to order some parts for the van. We then got to the Guadalupe Mountains campground and set up shop. It’s only $8 a night to camp here!
Despite the weather being much better than Big Bend, it was still a little too warm to keep Luca in the van while we hiked. However, Guadalupe Peak is the highest mountain in Texas, so of course Mike had to summit it. So, while Mike ran up the mountain – literally, he ran because he’s crazy – I worked on my Junior Ranger booklet and walked the Piney Grove Trail with Luca. This is the only trail dogs are allowed on here.
After I turned in my Junior Ranger badge, we had a wonderful discussion with Ranger Brian! We talked about the accessibility of this park compared to others, which is a big reason why it’s not visited more. I had planned on doing one of the smaller trails so we didn’t leave Luca that long. But, Ranger Brian reminded me… “the more challenging it is, the more rewarding it is.”
So up to Guadalupe Peak I went, while Mike stayed with Luca. I’ve never hiked a mountain solo. I definitely wasn’t into it at first – in fact, I wanted to quit many times along the way. But it was rewarding as hell when I made it to the top. Also, the time it took me to get to the top… Mike ran to the top and back down in the same amount of time. Overachiever. When I came back down, Mike had dinner ready and we camped another night at the Park.
The landscape here is pretty similar to Big Bend so we didn’t feel the strong desire to hike any other trails, so we visited the far west side of the park to the Gypsum Sand Dunes the next morning. It takes about an hour to get out to this side. The Ranger had said this side was visited even less than the main part of the park and he definitely wasn’t lying. We stayed there almost the whole day and not a single other person came out there. It was hot, but with a nice breeze and a pavilion to keep us cool. It was a great experience but it wasn’t the highlight of the park for me. If you have time to go to White Sands, do it. Even the ranger recommended that. The one huge perk for me here was that I saw a blooming agave plant! They take decades to grow, bloom once, and then die. And I’ve been searching for the past couple weeks. Nailed it.