This past fall we made two camping trips, our first visit to Sam Houston Jones State Park (SHJSP) in Southwest Louisiana in early October, and our fifth visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GMSP) in West Texas in early November. I thought I would post a few photos illustrating the contrasts in what one sees in these two very different parts of the nation.
When starting an early morning hike near our campground at SJHSP, we were usually greeted by fog.
On the other hand, the typical morning scene at our campground in Pine Spring Canyon in GMSP was quite different.
The highest point on the skyline at the upper right is Hunter Peak which, at an elevation of 8368 ft, is the fifth highest peak in the Guadalupe Mountains.
Because there are no hikes taking you to very high elevations in SHJSP (or pretty much anywhere else in Louisiana, for that matter), distant views are hard to come by. The best I could do was looking west from the bank of the West Fork of the Calcasieu River. For later comparison, that bank is at an elevation of about 10 ft above sea level.
Almost any of the mountain trails at GMNP provides views of either distant mountains or the desert surrounding them. This photo was taken from a point at 5390 ft elevation on Permian Reef Trail while looking toward the southeast. The curving white feature running through the center of the photo are the white rocks in the wash of McKittrick Creek.
The photo below shows a typical dead or dying tree at SHJSP. The ones we saw seemed to be over 60 ft tall, and most of them has gracefully curved trunks and branches, and an occasional wading bird.
In contrast, the dead trees we saw at GMNP were very short and usually had thin, twisted branches.
At SHJSP the dominant vertical features are the trees. There are lots of oaks, pines, and cypress, and if you are at the right spot, you can easily see all three.
The most interesting vertical features in the Guadalupe Mountains are, of course, the mountains themselves. In addition, we found the vertical rock formations encountered on hikes to be fascinating. This photo taken from Permian Reef Trail shows one such rock, which I estimated to be over 20 ft tall.
Since our home is in Southern Louisiana about 70 mi due east of Sam Houston Jones State Park, we have scenery similar to theirs, so the visit there was not all that exciting. On the other hand, the rocks, peaks, mountain trails, and aridity of Guadalupe Mountains National Park have always fascinated us and have us making that 1800-mi round trip every few years.
The locations from which the photos from Sam Houston Jones State Park were taken is shown on the map below. Zoom in for more detail.
The locations from which the photos from Guadalupe Mountains National Park were taken is shown on the map below. Zoom in for more detail.