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Saddle Up – Exploring Big Bend Country – Texas State Highway 62/180

The vast majority of this road trip will take place in or on the fringes of the Chihuahua Desert. The word desert brings up mental pictures of suffocating heat during the day and arid landscapes; but this desert has mountains, valleys and green meadows that must be seen to really appreciate the hidden and rugged beauty. If you are looking for a place to get away from it all then look no further.

We are starting our journey on Texas State Highway 62/180. At this point of our road trip, a word of warning – gas stations are few and far between. You would be advised not to take this route without at least a half of a tank of gas. This route will take us through Guadalupe Mountains National Park plus four small towns as we head into El Paso. These blogs are all about the towns, sights and “what to do”. Just remember the best surprises can come in small packages. We will start this post with the tiny town of Pine Springs. This tiny community of approximately 20 people lies 21 miles from the New Mexico border on Highway 62/180. Pine Springs was established in 1858 as a stagecoach station on the famous Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Although today all that is left of the station is some tumbled down stone ruins and a historical marker, but I bet if you try, you can picture in your mind the corrals, stagecoach buildings and a cloud of dust as the stage comes rolling in. Today Pine Springs claim to fame is the fact that the town sets at the “front gate” to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The only conveniences that Pine Springs offers is a campground near the ruins of the stage station for tents and self-contained RV camping. Rest rooms and water is available at the campgrounds.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the state’s highest point (elevations ranging from 3,650 to 8,749 feet) plus contains one of the most breath-taking scenic beauty in the entire state – McKittrick Canyon. The barren desert surrounding the outer mountains give a hidden picture of the inner mountain slops. Within the McKittrick Canyon is forests of ponderosa pines, aspens, maples and mountain junipers plus an abundance of deer and elk in the upland meadows. Visitors may drive near the mouth of McKittrick Canyon and use the easy hiking trails. Visitors are encouraged to stop at the headquaraters visitor center on U.S. Highway 62/180 near Pine Springs.