Development of the Guadalupe Mountains in the National Park System will be expensive, but proper development is essential to provide the preservation, the visitor experiences, and the requisite interpretation of the area. The proposed unit can be visualized as having two components -- a scientific reserve in the McKittrick Canyon area and a high, cool, delightful region suitable for more intensive use in the high Guadalupes.
There should, then, be very little development in the McKittrick Canyon area -- a road from the main highway into the canyon should end at the junction of the north and south forks. In that general location there should be a campground carefully tailored to fit the restrictive topography. There, also, the existing flagstone Pratt Lodge could be adapted to house a visitor contact and interpretation station. Beyond that point, simple foot trails could be built up North and South McKittrick Canyons. No horse traffic should be allowed on those trails.
Contrasting strongly with the preservation-oriented objective in McKittrick Canyon would be the heavy visitor-use development typified by a road leaving U.S. Highway 62-180 at Pine Spring and climbing the north wall of Pine Spring Canyon. After some 6-1/2 miles of ascent it would top out on the high ridge near Bush Mountain. One branch of it would double back along the ridge above Pine Spring Canyon to the east, passing close to Pine Top Mountain, and thence to The Bowl. At several places on that rim drive there would be opportunities for magnificent overlooks across to Guadalupe Peak and down to the Delawares, Guadalupe Pass, and the low valleys stretching south toward Van Horn, Texas. In The Bowl a campground could be developed in the pines at some 7,800 feet elevation. This would be a camping facility entirely different from and unmatched by any other in Texas. Water to serve the campground could be pumped, as it is now, from Upper Pine Spring to the rim above The Bowl. If necessary, water could also be obtained from other springs below the escarpment.
From the road junction at Bush Mountain a scenic drive should be pushed due north along the Blue Ridge. This would afford views of the west-side fault scarp and out across the salt flats. The land surface here drops some 5,000 feet in 5 miles below the viewer, and the first 2,000 feet of it is one nearly sheer cliff. Eventually the road along the Blue Ridge should follow the divide between McKittrick Canyon and the Dog Canyons north into New Mexico and the Lincoln National Forest, and on along the ridge of the Guadalupes through Carlsbad Caverns National Park to the present developed area at the cave. This ridge drive would validate the southern and western highly scenic portions of Carlsbad Caverns National Park and would provide an unforgettable experience for any park visitor using it from either direction.
Area headquarters should be located close to the junction of the proposed Pine Spring Canyon road and the highway, where water is available. This is the best site for overall year-round protection and control.
The geologic story displayed in the west-side fault scarp is of such magnitude and significance that it warrants at least a low-standard road from the main highway along the base of the slope, past Shirttail Canyon, to the vicinity of Cutoff Mountain. Wayside exhibits along this road would be instrumental in explaining the Permian reef-building story so beautifully displayed. It may also be desirable to locate a winter campground somewhere along this road, probably served by water from the well under Bartlett Peak in Section 34, Block 66, Township 1.
Last Updated: 09-Feb-2007