My brother, John, returned to Pennsylvania yesterday, but we managed to fit in one last long road trip on Tuesday because we're crazy like that. We packed some snacks and loaded up the diaper bag (plus a spare tote bag of extra clothing--we learned that the hard way when we went to White Sands last week). We were heading to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico--some three and a half hours away--but we had a pit stop scheduled at the mid-way point before we crossed the Texas border.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is breathtaking in its scenery, and from what I understand, we only saw a tiny little fraction of the varied beauty that the park has to offer. I really wish we had more time to spend there, but we had a timeline to stick to if we wanted to make it into the caves before Sammy's nap time.
The mountains are actually the remnants of what was once a great coral reef several hundred millions of years ago, when most of what is now western Texas and southeastern New Mexico was covered by the Delaware Sea. It's kind of crazy when you think about the fact that the most well-preserved fossil reef in the world is out in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert.
While we couldn't stay long, we were able to stretch our legs a bit on the Pinery Trail, a short 3/4 mile path that winds its way through the desert towards the ruins of the old Pinery Station, once a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Sammy had a great time running around, pointing out the different kinds of trees and gathering rocks to play with in the car.
Although it was a short visit, it left an indelible impression on me and I'm really looking forward to the next time we make our way to the park; you could definitely spend all day (and more) taking advantage of all the Guadalupe Mountains National Park has to offer.