The Top of Texas – Guadalupe Mountains

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After Big Bend we had a short stop in Alpine, Texas, home of Sul Ross University and the fighting Lobos. We arrived in Alpine after dark and looked for a quite place to boondock. We thought we found one next to the university’s track and soccer field, but unfortunately, we did not see the train tracks that were located about 40 feet from our camper. No less than 8 trains passed in the night. After a sleepless night, we woke up and made the most of our stay with a morning track work out and mooching off the university library’s free wifi to catch up on some emails.

After leaving Alpine we traveled north towards New Mexico. Prior to this trip, I’d never heard of Guadalupe National Park which is located on the TX/NM border and we almost decided to skip it. That would have been a big mistake as it ended up being one of our favorite stops thus far. Similar to Big Bend, we arrived late in the afternoon only to find the park’s only campground was full. We decided to boondock nearby and hope that a spot would open the next day. Our boondocking spot turned out to be a wonderful place to watch the sun set behind the 8,000+ foot Guadalupe Mountains. There was also a nearby trailhead and one of the park’s few water sources (the park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert). We took an evening hike and spotted several cottontails, mule deer, and a pack of javelinas.

The next day we woke up early and were able to snag a spot at the park’s campground. Initially, we didn’t think much of the campground as it was really just a small parking lot, but it was located at the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains which provided a beautiful backdrop and access to several trails. The small campground and tight spaces were very conducive to meeting your neighbors. We had dinner with John and Ashli from Utah, who were also full-timing with their two kids; strawberry margaritas with John and Michelle who were from Long Island, NY; and we met Analeise who was traveling alone from St. Augustine with a bike and a kayak in the back of her pickup truck. If I have half of her spirit and adventurousness when I am her age, I’ll be ecstatic.

We did several hikes as a family and Liam was able to walk every step of the way, including a moderately difficult 5-mile hike through McKitttrick Canyon. If Liam gets accepted to Harvard later in life, I’m not sure I’ll be prouder. On the way out of the park, Maggie and Ceej got me a hat from the visitor’s center that only a middle-aged dad would wear: it’s army green with an embroidered javelina on it. I’ve worn it every day since.

Nearby Carlsbad Caverns gets all the hype, but if you ever find yourself in the area, I strongly encourage you to visit Guadalupe Mountains NP. It has a lot of history, plenty of beauty, and 80 miles of trails to keep you spry.

*(Boondocking – dry camping somewhere that’s not a regular campsite.)

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