Just Two Bros in CarlsLupe
Oh the strange places we venture. Us Two Bros decide to head to Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe Mountains for our 2017 Labor Day. We flew into El Paso International Airport. In true Texas form you have to fly to the closest airport & drive to the parks. To get to Big Bend you have to fly to Midland, Texas, & drive 2.5 hours South to the park. This time is was El Paso & about 45 minutes to Carlsbad where we started.
Whit got in a little late so we drove to about 15 minutes outside Carlsbad Caverns & stayed at the Rodeway Inn. It’s a hole in the wall, but for you extreme pool fanatics, it does have a water slide. The price isn’t fantastic, most likely, because it’s the closest place to the parks, but the room will get you through the night.
We started our first whole day in Carlsbad, a park similar to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but also much different. The Caverns are a little more appealing & exciting when you’re inside them, they have an elevator that goes down into the center or you can enter at the mouth which adds an easy extra mile to the hike. We recommend doing the mouth entrance, Carlsbad isn’t that long of a hike. You can do the Cavern’s in under 3 hours & the surrounding area has some basic trails you can walk though the Caverns are what it’s all about.
Inside they also have a restaurant with some cold cut sandwiches & soft drinks; & get this, they have plumbing. Full blown men & women’s bathrooms. What plumber got the call, ” Hey can you put plumbing in our cave?” It’s kind of amazing.
Afterwards we ate nachos, burgers, & grilled cheeses at the White City Restaurant. They don’t have a website that I can find, which if you go there you”ll understand, but the food was cheap & delicious.
In Guadalupe, we booked two hikes, The McKittrick Canyon Trail at about 14.8 miles with a 2,000 ft elevation change, & the Guadalupe Point Hike at about 8.5 miles with a 3,000 foot elevation change. We set off for McKittrick… then realized we forgot our camping permit back at the visitor center. We set off for McKittrick again! When you arrive at the trail head, there is a mini ranger’s station with a couple bathrooms, a water fountain & an informational video. We start our hike in the late afternoon, which is always nice in the Southwest, it’s cooler outside & the pictures are so beautiful with the sun going down. We set up camp in the dark as usual. Now let me say this, the hike up, landscape, greenery & all is very beautiful, a tough hike, but great views. The camp site at the top is very much the opposite. You’re up on one of the highest mountains in the park & you feel like you made a huge trek just to sit in the woods. Really you could do that in Idaho & your knees would hurt a lot less.
We got up early to watch the sunrise from this great spot we found on the ridge. We snapped a few pics, took in all the scenery, & made our way back to the ranger’s station. The trek going down is even harder than going up. Hiking on broken limestone is tough & unpredictable, so you have to watch where you step. At the bottom we met a ranger named Eli. A very happy go lucky guy who talked to us for a while about all of his favorite spots in El Paso. He also happened to have gone to Ranger school with our savior Zach from our Voyageurs National Park mini trip.
Due to Whitney’s cartilage damaged knees we decided to opt out of the Guadalupe Peak hike. We handed our unused permit to Eli and headed straight for El Paso. We were starving & on the way back to the city, Whitney A found this cool little cafe, Cafe Cardunas, run by someone’s grandmother, who supported Donald Trump & hosted a small Sunday Mass in the back corner of the restaurant converted home. We demolished everything she brought us. As crazy as the political canvas of the restaurant seems, I recommend it. The food was amazing, she made my turkey club with real non- processed turkey! And of course Whit loved her grilled cheese.
In El Paso, we treated ourselves. We got a room at the Radisson Hotel, & sat poolside with a couple of blue moons, vodka sodas, & rested our weary legs. We also had a couple of Jalapeño burgers, which were perfect.
One regret we had was not bringing our Passports. El Paso sits right on the Juarez Mexico border, & having that extra day, we would’ve went to check it out if possible. Although a small city in Texas, El Paso & it’s nearby National Parks are worth a visit.