When visiting Carlsbad Caverns the afternoon before, we spotted a scenic drive that we wanted to take, so the next morning, we headed up bright and early. What a gorgeous day! The road followed the contours of the top of the ridge for a while before turning and heading into the valley below. We thoroughly enjoyed this in depth look at the Chihuahuan Desert in this area.
The wrinkly looking hills fascinated us. Turns out all those ripples and bends are ancient reef formations! Millions of years ago, these ridges were below water and formed by eons of sea critters!
The "stone" was really the ancient reef, and definitely eroded in unique ways!
Every step we took displayed some interesting new evidence of the ancient reef!
Truly fascinating to see the many forms, now eroded and polished by the passage of thousands and thousands of years!
After we left Carlsbad, we headed to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Our first stop was the visitor center, where I discovered that adults can do the Junior Ranger Program and that some parks, like Guadalupe, actually have a Senior Ranger program that one can complete! I got my start on finishing it as we hiked the nature trail that left from the visitor center.
The views were gorgeous in the afternoon light!
I loved the variety in the yucca, sotol and agave plants. This yucca with its white rimmed leaves was abundant and gave it a unique appearance, almost a halo when viewed with the light behind it!
The spines of the Prickly Pear definitely had a golden halo in the light!
Since it was still February, there weren't any plants in bloom, and few in leaf. Last year's dried flower sepals looked like lovely white stars!
I loved the evening light and color. The bits of green around the Texas Madrone trees set their beautiful smooth bark off.
Probably the biggest highlight of our nature hike, was seeing a small flock of Scaled Quail! A new life bird for me! Such sweet faces!
We drove on down the road to see the prominent peak of the Guadalupe Mountains, Capitan. It's sheer face was visible on the horizon over 40 miles away near Carlsbad Caverns!
The sun was getting close to setting. What a treat to see this magnificent landscape during "magic hour"!
We stayed to see the light on Capitan. It was beautiful, and I did a watercolor here, which I will share in a later post.
But the best view was the sky to the southwest!
Guadalupe Mountains was a huge surprise to us. I had heard of it because my parents had been there, but didn't really know much about it. We decided that we needed more time here, but we had reservations at Big Bend, that we didn't want to lose. In the end, we decided that we would return after visiting Big Bend and before we headed north to White Sands National Monument. I'll share our second visit in a future post!