Sweeping desert vistas, high mountain trails and secluded canyons all await the Detroit Hikers group on their November, 2017 adventure in the great southwest. We’ve arranged an exciting itinerary that’s sure to invigorate, entertain and educate all who join us.
Arrival Day: Wednesday November 8 Everyone should arrive in El Paso, Texas on this day. We’ll gather at the Hyatt Place Hotel near the airport for an opening dinner with a presentation about the upcoming adventure. It’s also where we’ll spend our first night. This will be a great chance to reacquaint with your old friends and meet the guide team for the trip.
In case you’re wondering, El Paso is at the far western tip of Texas. Just to the north is the state of New Mexico. The city of Juarez, situated in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, lies just to the south. If you have concerns about safety, set them aside: El Paso is consistently rated as one of the safest cities in the United States. As a bonus, we have over 300 days of sunshine each year.
Day One: Thursday, November 9 We’ll check out early from the Hyatt Place and drive two hours east to Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GUMO). Along the way we’ll pass through Otero Mesa, a high grassland, with plenty of opportunities to spot pronghorn antelope and catch early glimpses of our destination nearly an hour before arrival. This approach is the best way to appreciate the size and splendor of the mountains as we arrive from the west and climb the winding road through Guadalupe Pass.
The group can get familiar with the park during a quick stop at the headquarters before we travel on to the McKittrick Canyon trailhead. From this point will start off on the day’s adventure with a hike in McKittrick Canyon with its bright white limestone stream bed, varied plant life and towering mountain sides. Easy to strenuous hikes will all be available on the same route with those wanting a more difficult hike simply traveling farther up the trail before turning around.
After the hike we’ll drive on to the town of Carlsbad, NM and check in to the Hampton Inn. This will be our base camp for three nights.
Day Two: Friday, November 10 Not all of our hiking will be done above-ground. On this day we’ll travel to Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CCNP) to tour a site that was included on the first list of the Seven Wonders of the World. We’ll take time to check out the visitors center before walking into the caverns via the natural entrance. In the first mile the paved trail drops over 700 feet. From there we’ll loop through The Big Room with some of the most breathtaking formations in the entire cave system. Hikers will probably have the option to either ride an elevator back to the sunshine or retrace our hike to the surface via the natural entrance.
For the remainder of this day at Carlsbad the group will have the opportunity to select from two great activities. A more strenuous choice will be a hike on the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail that is accessed from a dirt road that loops through a rarely-seen part of the park. Or, you can return to the city of Carlsbad to walk around Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Part of the New Mexico State Parks system, this facility offers up-close chances to see and learn about plants and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert. The garden’s walking trails are well signed to help with plant identification on the remainder of our trip and the animals include javelinas, raptors, a mountain lion and elk. There’s also a greenhouse filled with succulent plants from all over the world.
Day Three: Saturday, November 11 On this day we will travel to slightly higher elevations about an hour’s drive from Carlsbad to visit the Lincoln National Forest. At Sitting Bull Falls we’ll hike around the day use area and see springs that feed a series of streams and pools that eventually reach the 150-foot drop of a waterfall. A few hikes will be offered from this location with various levels of difficulty.
Day Four, November 12 Today we pack up to leave the Hampton Inn and drive back to GUMO. You’ll have to choose between two of our favorite hikes. Those looking for a strenuous day and a chance to “bag a peak” can hike the 8.4 mile roundtrip trail to the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. The trail climbs nearly 3,000 feet with views of mountains near and far, historic salt flats and even Carlsbad Caverns in the distance. The trail tops out at 8,751 feet above sea level.
The other option is just as tempting. The Devil’s Hall Trail is only a 4.2 mile out-and-back, but it’s easy to spend a full day on this gem. The trail meanders up a spectacular canyon littered with white limestone boulders, unusual trees and stunning rock formations. Bring your camera and take your time. It’s a special place.
After a big day in GUMO we’ll drive on to El Paso to check back in at the Hyatt Place. The group will go to one of the best known Mexican restaurants in town for a celebratory dinner and maybe a margarita or two!
Day Five: November 13 This can but doesn’t have to be your travel day back home after an epic adventure. GeoBetty Tours has a bonus day planned for those who wish to stick around a bit longer. The theme for the day is “Life on the Edge”. You’ll learn about El Paso’s colorful history and what it’s like living on the US/Mexico border.
We will hike in Franklin Mountains State Park which splits the city of El Paso into two distinct areas. The group will even visit one more piece of the National Park System. The Chamizal National Memorial is a park dedicated to the peaceful settlement of a border dispute between the United States and Mexico. We’ll finish the day with a trip to Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch. The ranch has movie sets, live animals and food that consistently places the restaurant on lists of the best steakhouses in the country. A day worth staying for.