Monday, June 15, 2009

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

On May 24 we drove out to Carlsbad Caverns, and on the way discovered Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We stopped at the main visitor center and discovered a small but beautiful botanical garden. The hills were gorgeous also, and we have decided to go back another time to do some hiking.

One of the things I found amazing on this drive was the way the scenery changed. There would be a stretch of yuccas followed by a stretch of ocotillos, sometimes a huge field of cholla cactus, and sometimes just creosote bush. Of course there were flowers blooming by the roadside - lots of thistles and Texas gourd,
plus the inevitable yellow daisies. The weather was gorgeous, so we drove the entire way with the top down on our Mazda Speed.

The views of El Capitan were very striking, and were my first hint of the wonderful things to come. El Capitan is the beginning of the ancient reef in which the Carlsbad Caverns are located.

The desert willows were in full bloom. There was mistletoe growing in the oak trees, which is always interesting. Another sight which brought back memories was all the madrone trees, which looked to me very much like the manzanita I used to see growing in Southern California. It had been many, many years since I'd seen that, but the bark is very distinctive. A bit of research told me that manzanita and madrone are one.

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