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Date of visit:
March 24, 2000

For location of this site in TX, click on the map:
Location of Gauadalupe Mountains National Park ...

We rate this site a:

Site Highlights:
 Isolated location
 Uncrowded in spring
 No entry fee
 Magnificent mountains
 Great hiking
 See Pratt cabin
 Visit Frijoles ranch
 Hike McKittrick Canyon
 Highest peaks in Texas
 Geology trails
 Great autumn colors
 Butterfield Stage route
 Many nature trails


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Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains at sunset
Guadalupe Mountains at sunset(#)

The Guadalupe Mountains - An Introduction

Capitan Reef
Capitan Reef
The Guadalupe Mountains are part of one of the finest examples of an ancient marine fossil reef on Earth.

Geologists come here from around the world to marvel at this extraordinary natural phenomenon, which formed approximately 250 million years ago in the geologic period know as the Permian.

During this time a vast tropical ocean full of various forms of life covered portions of Texas and New Mexico. Over millions of years, calcareous sponges and algae combined with other lime-secreting marine organisms and vast quantities of lime that precipitated directly from the seawater to form the 400-mile-long, horseshoe-shaped Capitan Reef.

Eventually the sea evaporated, the reef subsided, and a thick blanket of sediments and mineral salts buried the reef. The reef was entombed for millions of years until a mountain-building uplift in this region exposed a part of the fossil reef in the Guadalupe Mountains. Other parts of the reef are exposed in the Apache Mountains and the Glass Mountains.

Guadalupe Mountains - Geology

The Guadalupes
The Guadalupes(#)
The Western Escarpment has played an important role in revealing the story of the Permian Period of geologic time in North America.

These exposures present one of the finest cross-sections of rocks in the world, showing transitions from shallow-water deposits to deep-water deposits.

Abrupt changes in rock types are caused by this change in depth from shallow submerged areas to the deep waters of the Permian Sea. Some two miles of Permian strata are exposed in and adjacent to the Guadalupe Mountains due to faulting which uplifted this section through the ancient fossil reef.

Exposures on the lower section of the western escarpment have been studied intensely by geologists. A portion of these lower layers has been proposed as a worldwide type section for middle Permian strata referred to as the Guadalupian. A type section serves as a defining unit of rock to which all other units of the same age can be compared. These exposures have been preserved so geologists can continue to study and learn about this ancient fossil reef and for the public to enjoy.

Guadalupe Mountains - El Capitan

El Capitan
El Capitan(#)
The most striking feature of Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the thousand-foot high El Capitan, which can be seen from miles around. Early settlers used it as a landmark on the route through Guadalupe Pass.

El Capitan is composed of Capitan Limestone, which is the Permian-aged limestone reef deposit.

A reef is a submerged resistant mound or ridge formed by the accumulation of plant and animal skeletons. The Capitan Limestone is massive, fine-grained fossiliferous limestone that formed by growth and accumulation of invertebrate skeleton of algae, sponges, and tiny colonial animals called bryozoans. These skeletons were stabilized by encrusting organisms that grew over and cemented the solid reef rock, unlike modern reefs built by mainly a rigid framework of corals.

Below this massive cliff of Capitan Limestone you can see a prominent sandstone ledge of the Brushy Canyon sandstone which formed when the offshore basin began to slowly subside.

Because of the Capitan's greater resistance to erosion, it forms this cliff which looms majestically above the horizon for us all to see.

The Desert

Surrounding the Guadalupe Mountains are the sparsely populated plains of the Chihuahuan Desert.

The vast arid realm extends south for hundreds of miles into Mexico. The Chihuahuan Desert receives between 10 and 20 inches of rain a year; in the summer, temperatures rise to 90 degrees and above.

Although it can look barren at first glance, the desert is full of life. Many of the Chihuahuan Desert's most common plants and animals are found in the park.

Agaves, prickly pear cacti, walking-stick chollas, yuccas, and sotol are abundant, and lizards, snakes, coyotes, foxes, bears, and deer and elk are seen frequently.

Site Gallery - Desert Views
 Desert in bloom  Desert in bloom  Desert in bloom
 Desert in bloom  Desert in bloom  Roadrunner
The flora(#) and fauna(#)
makes us marvel at the desert.
The Guadalupe Peoples

The Nde (Mescalero)
Mescalero Apaches
Nde (Mescalero Apaches), westward bound pioneers, explorers, stagecoach drivers, U.S. Army troops , ranchers, and conservationists are all part of the colorful history of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Until the mid-1800s these remote highlands were the exclusive domain of the Nde, who hunted and camped here.

Later came explorers and pioneers, who welcomed the imposing sight of the Guadalupe peaks rising boldly out of the Texas desert not only as an important landmark but also for the water and shelter the mountains provided.

But cultures conflicted and the Nde did not welcome the intrusion of new people into their domain. In 1849 the U.S. Army began a campaign against them that was to last three decades. The Guadalupes became the only sanctuary from the soldiers and a staging ground for their own attacks. The 1880 the last of the Nde had been driven out of the Guadalupes.

Butterfield CoachAmidst this conflict, Butterfield stagecoaches began carrying mail through the Guadalupes on the antion's first transcontinental mail route. The ruins of the Pinery stagecoach station are a reminder of this service.

In the years that followed, ranches developed around the Guadalupes. In 1972 Guadalupe Mountains National Park was created by an act of Congress.

Site Gallery - Other Views(#)
The Guadalupes The Guadalupes The Guadalupes
Wildlife in the Guadalupes(%)
Howling at the moon Bobcat



Mother and cub

For More Information
Images denoted by (%) and all text extracted from Guadaloupe National Park brochure.
Images denoted by (#) are copyright Finley-Holiday Film Corp., Whittier, CA 90608
Tel. (562) 945-3325. For commercial use contact Finley-Holiday, Stock Photo Division
URL: www.finley-holiday.com

ParkNet: Gateway to the National Park Service
Visit Your National Parks
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Geology of Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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