West Texas Sojourn
LLast November, we journeyed across the western half of Texas. During our trip of discovery, we found incredible places to ride our Missouri Fox Trotter geldings, Cowboy and Nate. West Texas has a grandeur all its own. Terrain ranges from high-altitude mountains to cactus-studded deserts. Here, we’ll take you on a riding and camping tour of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Davis Mountains State Park, and San Angelo State Park. (For contact information on the public lands mentioned, see the resource guide on page 34.)
A Diverse Landscape
The Guadalupe Mountains provide some of the most diverse landscape in all of Texas. As you ride, you’ll experience amazing differences in plant and animal life, with elevations in the park ranging from 3,689 feet at the gypsum dunes to 8,749 feet on Guadalupe Peak, the highest peak in Texas.
The Guadalupe Mountains are part of an ancient marine fossil reef that was under a vast ocean around 265 million years ago. International geologists come here to study these mountains, regarded as one of the world’s best examples of Middle Permian geology.
If you’ll be staying overnight, get a free backcountry use permit at the visitor center. Corrals and camping are available near the visitor center by Frijole Ranch and at the more remote Dog Canyon.
We stayed at the Frijole Ranch corrals. This camp includes four corrals, water, picnic tables, two hitching rails, bathrooms, two tent spots, and trailer parking. Its proximity to the Foothills, Frijole, and El Capitan Trails makes it an ideal location.
Wind can be a real problem in the Guadalupe area. Spring is the windiest time, with speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Late fall and early winter are the least windy times of year. As it turned out, our rides were limited, due to wind.
The Frijole and Foothills Trails form a loop and provide a good introduction to the region. These are easy trails through
Charlene Krone rides Nate on the trails at Davis Mountains State Park. Inset: The entrance to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Cowboy and Nate relax with a visiting park mule at the Frijole Horse Camp in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.