Images from Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

January 18-25, 2003



Rising 8,749 feet above the desert floor Gaudalupe Peak grabs the attention of park visitors. There is one 4X4 road in the park and 80 miles of hiking trails through it's 86,000 acres. The park is located between Carlsbad New Mexico and El Paso Texas on Route 62/180.

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One of the main features of this park is the Permian aged reef (280 - 225 Million years old) which includes Capitan reef seen here, one of the world's premier exposed fossilized reefs. I could go on and on, but after viewing Scott's artwork, check out this great site about the geology of this area of our country.

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Scott took this picture at the base of El Capitan, a point on the Capitan Reef. About 26 million years ago, faulting occurred in the area causing the reef to be pushed up. Erosion then removed the softer sediment from the reef itself exposing the white fossilized layer that we see in the picture. Today the reef rises above the desert floor much in the same way it would have risen above the floor of the Delaware sea 250 million years ago.

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Another spectacular area of the park is McKittrick Canyon. This area was once owned by Wallace E. Pratt an oil company geologist who donated 5632 acres to the parks service, and was the main driving force behind acquiring more lands surrounding McKittrick Canyon for the expansion of the park.

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Spectacular is the best way to describe the view from El Capitan looking towards Gaudalupe Peak.

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It's difficult to believe from this picture of the Gypsum Dunes, but Gaudalupe Mountains N.P. is home to 1500 species of plants, 60 species of mammals, 303 species of birds and 55 species of reptiles and amphibians. Desert dunes to conifer forests make for a very diverse range of ecosystems.

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All images and text ©swp2003 use in any media prohibited without written consent of the owner.