Our first stop on this second time in Guadalupe Mountain NP was McKittrick Canyon.
We hiked the mile long nature trail, discovering that it was a bit steeper and more difficult than we had anticipated! Rocky and dry and in the full sun, which got a bit warm as the sun rose higher in the sky!
We had been expecting to see a good sized spring on this trail, but it turned out to be a barely damp seep. It was enough for the birds however and we saw not only this beautiful spotted towhee, but robins, western scrub jays, a hermit thrush, Townsend solitaire, curve billed thrasher, and lots of both mountain and western bluebirds!
Lovely cactus covered rock formations along the trail.
Perhaps the most interesting thing on the nature trail other than the bird life, were the variety of unusual rocks we saw. There were these gray rocks embedded with golden nodules of flint.
This rock, which looks caked with mud, is actually the unusual eroding of one type of rock embedded in another.
There were textured rocks with white veining running through.
And this bubbly looking rock. All of them from various reef formations that formed in the earths distant past. Fascinating!
The trail gave us lovely views out to the south east across the vast open desert.
A lush spot looking west from a small protected spot, which seemed like an oasis after an hour or two in the hot sun!
Our second stop of the day was at Frijole Ranch. What a beautiful spot! A perfect little stone house, with a spring, lots of trees, an orchard and a lot of birds!
I've always loved the patina of old barn wood!
This pond is the reason that Frijole Ranch is located here. A spring providing bountiful water in an otherwise dry landscape allowed the people who lived here to thrive.
This ancient cedar had the most berries on it that I think I've ever seen on one tree.
We saw these shrubs with holly like leaves and teensy red berries throughout the area. Everything is sharp and prickly in the desert!
A weathered post with both new and old wire on it.
The most amazing sight of the day was a flock of bluebirds flying up and down in the field adjacent to the stone cottage.
On closer inspection, we realized that there was a tiny irrigation canal running through, and a myriad of birds was taking advantage of the accessible water!
A lovely Cassin's finch with it's pretty red patch glowing in the sunlight!
After a lovely day exploring, and truly, I wish we could have stayed longer, we headed west, across the salt flat west of the park and then 110 miles to El Paso. A road I might add, on which there are no services at all. In truth, nearly nothing at all, for the entire distance, not even a bill board. At El Paso, we headed north to Alamogordo, NM, where we settled in for a couple of nights.