West Texas So­journ

Trail Rider - - POSTCARD FROM … TEXAS -

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.

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