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Trip 10, Park 2: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about one-tenth of the size of Big Bend, but still has some distinctive areas. Our first stop in the park was at the Pine Springs Visitor Center, where we hiked the Pinery Nature Trail (about 3/4 mile). The trail passes by the ruins of a stagecoach station built in 1858; it's an easy walk through a flat grassy plain.

We then went to the Frijole Ranch area, 1 1/2 miles from the visitor center, and hiked the Smith Spring Trail Loop (about 2.3 miles round-trip). The trail passes by the historic Frijole Ranch Museum, providing a look at life faced by the pioneers in the late 1800s. The trail winds into the mountains, providing nice views of the surrounding mountains, foothills, and desert landscapes. The weather that day was rainy and overcast, so we did not have great views of El Capitan or the Guadalupe Peak, but the area was beautiful nonetheless.

We then went to the McKittrick Canyon area of the park, about 10 miles from the Frijole Ranch area, where the weather was much nicer. We got the rainbow, without the rain! We hiked the McKittrich Canyon Nature Trail (0.9 miles), which has trailside descriptions of common plants and information about the geology. The top of the trail provides a nice view looking down into the canyon.

Following our hikes, we headed to the town of Carlsburg and checked out Milton's Brewing and Guadalupe Mountain Brewing. Selection was limited at Milton's Brewing and I had their PBody Porter and Mike had Milton's Red Stapler Red Ale (they had no IPAs). Guadalupe Mountain Brewing had a slightly wider selection; I had a coconut porter and Mike tried their Belmas Revenge IPA and Sticky Bandit Hazy IPA. They also served pizzas, subs, paninis, and salads.

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