Muley Point

The view from Muley Point

Of all the places I camped during my trip through the American Southwest, Muley Point was probably my most favorite.  It included an awesome drive up Moki Dugway, a long set of switchbacks carved into the towering cliffs of Cedar Mesa, and Muley Point itself was an amazing overlook, with views over a mind-blowing desert landscape.  I spent one night here, sleeping out on the rocks under the stars, a simple affair, just a dinner, a sunset, and a pretty view, but it was also one of those near perfect evenings that I will remember with great fondness for many years.

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Hovenweep National Monument – Square Tower Loop

Hovenweep Castle

I spent a night in Hovenweep National Monument last January, checking out the amazing ancenstral Puebloan ruins there.  This place was fascinating, with intricately built stone towers, some over 700 years old.  We’re still discovering  who built this village, and how these building were used, but the craftsmanship suggests a highly sophisticated society.  Still, many questions remain.  All this aside, Hovenweep was an excellent place to visit.

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White Sands National Monument – The Dunefield

White sand dunes in White Sands National Monument

Deborah and I had to do a little rescheduling in January while the federal government was shutdown.  She had flown down to El Paso to spend 10 days with me in Texas and New Mexico.  Among other things on our itinerary were Carlsbad Caverns, the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and White Sands, all of which closed during the shutdown.  We detoured out to Big Bend and Guadalupe, which were still partially open, and things ended up working out alright, but then on her second to last day the government reopened.  Happy to have all the amenities of the National Park System again, we went into White Sands, spending a full afternoon rambling around the dunefield in the park, and checking out an interpretive hike at sunset. Yay!

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Guadalupe National Park – Guadalupe Peak

We managed to fit a trip in to Guadalupe National Park last month, hiking to the top of Guadalupe Peak, a beautiful mountain and the highest point in Texas. Deborah and I had initially passed on Guadalupe, as it was a little out of the way for us, but after seeing this prominence rising out of the desert north of Van Horn, its banded cliffs beckoning us like a flag in the distance, we made a snap decision one morning to go climb it. We knocked this one out in an afternoon, powering through nine and a half miles and three thousand feet of gain in about five hours. It was a great climb overall, with spectacular views, even with a little wind at the top. Guadalupe Peak is awesome.

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Big Bend National Park – Hot Springs Historic District

Deborah and I checked out the Historic Hot Springs District last month during our visit to Big Bend.  There was a nice hot spring here, and a few buildings from the old 1900’s resort.  We also hiked the Hot Springs Canyon Trail out to Rio Grande Village, and checked out nearby Boquillas Canyon.  This was a super pretty part of the park, with lovely trails, and gorgeous views of the desert.  Definitely recommend.

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Big Bend National Park – South Rim Loop

Deborah and I traveled into Big Bend National Park in January, spending a day hiking the South Rim Loop out of the Chisos Basin.  This hike did a long circuit through the Chisos Mountains, a small, but prominent mountain range in the middle of the park.  The trail was long, and took us a full afternoon, but it passed through many different parts of the Chisos Mountains, and had some awesome overlooks above the Chihuahuan desert.

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McDonald Observatory – Solar Viewing and Tour

Deborah and I checked out the McDonald Observatory last month, attending the daytime solar presentation and tour of the telescopes. This tour was a good deal, and we loved it.  They started us out with an excellent presentation on the sun, with all kinds of cool facts about about our giant star.  We learned about the complicated magnetic field on the sun, how solar flares are formed, and all kinds of interesting stuff.  The sun is amazing, and Deborah and I geeked out pretty hard on all the science, but then then took us up to the telescopes…

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