Our visit to StairMaster National Park (AKA Guadalupe Mountains National Park) was really aerobic (AKA freakin steep everywhere!). However, if hiking trails that climb over 2,000 ft isn’t your thing, maybe you could hike the one trail that climbs only 400 ft or enjoy the visitor center. If you’re getting the feeling that Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the more challenging parks we’ve visited so far, you’re Detective of the Year. But the more exhausting the climb, the sweeter the reward.
Speaking of detectives, I imagine there had to be some pretty sleuthy geologists to figure out exactly how the Guadalupe Mountains exist in the first place. When Earth had just one continent, Pangea, the area of southern New Mexico and northwestern Texas was covered by the shallow Delaware Sea. Over millions of years a thick reef of calcium carbonate from dead algae and sponges formed around the edge (as opposed to today’s reefs made from coral). Then the sea was cut off from the ocean and eventually evaporated completely. The salt it left behind buried the reef until shifting plates uplifted certain sections by thousands of feet. Finally the salt eroded away to reveal a section of the fossilized reef we call Guadalupe Mountains.
See awesome prints like this of all 59 NPs at purplemoosebasics.com and use coupon code “SWITCHBACKKIDS” for 10% off any order.
It’s amazing that the mountains seem to just jump straight up from the Chihuahan Desert. It’s amazing that the views from Texas’ highest point at Guadalupe Peak stretch hundreds of miles in all directions. It’s amazing that to get up to that peak you walk on millions of fossils. And mostly it’s amazing that hiking all over the mountains and camping backcountry at over 8k feet in winter didn’t make us sick… oh wait it did.
But enough belly-aching and geology lessons. We promise we actually enjoyed our adventures in starkly beautiful Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Watch the video and you’ll see why.
Check out our analysis of the 4 types of National Parks camping (including Guadalupe Mountains options) in our park post.