I didn’t really know what to expect from Guadalupe Mountain National Park. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as a national park, the scenery is classic remote wilderness of the American West. The NPS park brochure’s description of the people of this area sums it up well: “Nde (Mescalero Apache), pioneers, explorers, stagecoach drivers, US Army troops, ranchers, and conservationists are part of the Guadalupe Mountains’ colorful history.” The 86,000 square acre park boasts over 85 miles of hiking trails through desert, canyons, and mountain high country. Unlike most national parks, Guadalupe Mountains does not have a paved road that runs through it. Though you can see much of the natural beauty of the area by skirting the park on US-62/180, you really must hike, or ride via an offroad vehicle (or horse), through this remote wilderness in order to see all that the park has to offer. Unfortunately, I didn’t devote enough time for hiking, other than the short Pinery Trail behind the Pine Springs Visitor Center, so my experience of this gorgeous park was only superficial. Guess I’ll just have to plan a return trip some day!
I turned off on TX-54 to continue south, then picked up US-90 towards Marfa. As I was cruising along, enjoying the scenery, the thought popped into my head that the Prada Marfa art exhibit was somewhere along this road. Hmm, I wonder if it will be well-marked so I can stop to check it out? It wasn’t long before I spotted several cars parked on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, with a few fashionably dressed women standing next to a random building. That must be it! I started breaking and downshifting in just enough time to pull over next to the building. I read the placard and admired the fence full of locks surrounding the building while waiting for the glamour shot to be over. Much to my amusement, the women, and even one of the men in the group, wanted to know if they could use my motorcycle as a prop. I looked over at my bug-gut covered bike and laughed. Sure, I’ll pull it up closer so you can pose next to it. The sight of elegantly dressed folks posing near my disgustingly dirty bike was hilarious! Hey, to each his own 😊
Intrigued by stories of the Marfa Mystery Lights, I’ve been wanting to visit the area where they have been seen. Unfortunately, with only an average of 6 sightings per year, the odds of witnessing the phenomena are pretty low. Explanations for the mysterious lights range from atmospheric anomalies, to car headlights, to campfires. (Wikipedia) I still stopped by the Marfa Lights Viewing Area during the day, and learned quite a bit about the area’s history as an Army Air Field, and later, as a regional airport.
I continued east on US-90 towards Alpine, TX, the base camp for my upcoming Big Bend National Park excursion. Finally, after not making it to Big Bend during the years I was stationed in Texas, I was finally going to see this hard to reach National Park!