Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Location: Salt Flat, TX
Smashed Penny Machine: No
Guadalupe Mountains National Park might be one of the least known national parks. This park is very remote on the far western edge of Texas. The park does contain the highest mountain peaks in the state of Texas and preserves many important historical sites including ancient pictographs, two historic ranches and the ruins of the Pinery Station of the Butterfield Overland Mail Coach.
This park is really a hikers dream. There are tons of trails from all day hikes that are 8 or more miles to tiny .5 mile trails. The ecology is of the park is diverse from mountain climbing to springs in the desert to rock formations. This is a large park that you could spend a few days exploring. We originally had plans to hike the Devil’s Hall Trail; however, after a much harder hike at Chiricahua the day before our group was tired.
We started our visit at the Pine Springs Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center has a very nice display the gives the history of the area as well as highlighting the many different plants and animals that call the mountains and surrounding desert home. After talking with the rangers and debating as a group, we decided to make this a very easy hike. We chose to hike the Pinery Trail. The trail begins just behind the Visitor’s Center and makes a small .75 mile loop through the desert landscape. The trail is completely paved and very easy but there is not much shade so bring water. The trail also passes the remains of the Pinery Station mail-coach stop. There is not much left of the ruin except a few walls. There is a small display explaining what the station would have looked prior to railroads entering the area and why it was so important for people traveling West through this part of Texas.
Overall: It is hard to give a strong opinion on this park. If you are prepared to do some hiking, then this is must do park. If you are limited on time or are limited on your ability to hike then driving out to this national park is probably not worth it. Because the park is very remote, the park was very quiet. The park is pretty far from any city so it is probably an excellent place to stargaze. I think would like to return to Guadalupe Mountains when my kids are older and I could devote a full day to hiking this wilderness.