Guadalupe National Park

My summer 2018 road trip was my last road trip with Adventure Prius I. The 2005 Prius with more than 240,000 miles on it had a good life, and it was time to pass it on to my cousin. My cousins live in Seattle, which opened up new road trip opportunities for me. Usually when I have to plan a loop road trip I don’t go crazy far afield because it takes so long to drive back through Texas. Because I was dropping the car though, I was able to do the full West coast trip and knock off some primo National Parks.

The first step, as always, was to get out of Texas. Driving west on night one after 10 hours I was just short of the Texas border in Guadalupe National Park. Now I’ve technically been to Guadalupe before, but it was at the tail end of a road trip and all I did was sleep in my car because I was so beat.

This time I was able to give Guadalupe the attention that it deserves. First let me say that if you’re looking for somewhere to camp in Texas during the summer, this is a great option. I never felt like the temperature broke 85, which was probably because of the windchill. In the morning there was a cool mist settled on the mountains and I was actually wearing a sweatshirt as I began my hike.

The major hiking attraction is, of course, the highest point in Texas. The hike to the peak is about 8 miles round trip. It was completely socked in on my way up, so I spent lots of time appreciating the changing flora as a ascended from the desert into the mountains. Even when I got to the tippity top I couldn’t see a thing, and resigned myself to having to come back again for the view (such a hardship, I know).

As I made my way off the peak, the wind kicked up again and the clouds and mist began to clear away, teasing and revealing sneak peaks of the surrounding vistas before finally clearing away completely to open up the views of Texas and New Mexico.

The barren landscape that stretched out before me was an integral part of the book I was reading (a deliberate choice to read location specific books when I could), Empire of the Summer Moon. The book tells the story of Quanah Parker and the Comanche, the last tribe to be moved to the reservations of Oklahoma, able to avoid the US army for years as they migrated back and forth across the hostile terrain of West Texas.

I think I finally gave Guadalupe the attention it deserves, and of all of my road trip beginnings, this was by far the most enjoyable and comfortable first stop. Also another state high point to add my list! It’s a short list: Massachusetts, Vermont, Texas. Oh what do you know, it’s actually a list of states I’ve lived in except for Connecticut and New York! In my defense, Mt Marcy is hard, and the Connecticut high point is just weird.

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