Road trips are the perfect way to find new and unexpected adventures. Be it a solo journey or one with a group of friends, these trips are bound to make amazing memories. In fact that’s why many people are willing to drive hours or days just to catch that sunrise from a remote mountain peak or experience a new trail run for the first time. If you head out for a weekend or a day, road trips will nourish your soul and connect you to jaw-dropping destinations that you probably even didn’t know existed.
Take west Texas and southeastern New Mexico for example. There are many amazing adventures to be had here. Hop in the car and take a drive to these gems along the edge of the Lone Star State and its neighbor to the west.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico is known by many, but its spectacular sights are visited by few. The caves here are the main draw, but there is some great trail running to be had on the park’s 40,000 acres above ground as well. Start the day off with an invigorating trail run—be sure to go early to beat the summer heat.There are three trails in particular perfect for your run.
If you are looking for some fun elevation gain and great views, either Yucca Canyon or Rattlesnake Canyon will do the trick. The 7.7-mile (one-way) trail to Yucca Canyon climbs from the mouth of the canyon up to the top of the ridge. Along the run, stunning panoramic views of El Capitan (not to be confused with the famous El Cap in Yosemite) and the Guadalupe Mountains will encourage you up the primitive trail. After soaking in the view, the return to the car is all downhill.
If you’d rather gain elevation at the end of your run, the trail to Rattlesnake Canyon is a good one to try. Climbing 670 feet over three miles, this Carlsbad classic six-mile out and back is full of rock cairns, and is a visually and physically fun route. Weaving down the rocky trail will loosen up your legs and let you enjoy the canyon before getting in a much more serious climb back up to the top. Load up your Osprey Mutant and be rewarded with comfort, plenty of gear, and the ever important hydration needed to hike safely in Carlsbad.
Finally, high above the desert and caverns below, the Guadalupe Ridge Trail has stood the test of time as one of the park’s classic hikes. Once a 4-wheel-drive road, the trail climbs up from the park’s western boundary along Desert Loop Road. With rolling hills and cool valleys, Guadalupe Ridge gives stunning canyon views to the north and south. This 24-mile out and back has 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and offers the best views in the region.
Once you have finished your morning run and are looking to beat the heat of the day, it’s time to head into the underground caverns. There are a variety of caves that you can explore via self-guided or ranger led treks. Exploring the underground world and, of course, witnessing all the bats, is fascinating and mesmerizing. Plus, it gets you cooled off and away from the hot summer sun.
If you head further west from the Carlsbad region, just 15 short minutes from El Paso,you’ll find Franklin Mountains State Park, one of the most stunning state parks in all of Texas and a great climbing area. Climbers will be stoked by the crags in the Franklin Mountains, especially those in McKelligon Canyon. There are plenty of options in Franklin Mountains and climbers will find fun routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13— check out the classic 5.9 Lost Padre or the 5.10a Star Fighter for some fun routes.
McKelligon Canyon is also popular among hikers, bikers, and runners. The North Mount Franklin Trail is a fantastic 7.6-mile out and back trail that gains nearly 2,500 feet before arriving at the summit. Rocky at the start, the trail eventually becomes a much more manageable run as you get closer to the top of the 7,192-foot peak. This popular year-round route offers amazing views of the surrounding area, including the town of El Paso.
Before leaving on your road trip out of Central Texas, make sure you stop by Whole Earth Provision Co. With shops in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Southlake, Whole Earth is your best bet for great gear, including the latest in Osprey packs. The first store opened in Austin in 1970, and it, and the ones that followed, have since served as cornerstones of their communities encouraging and inspiring outdoor adventures for all levels of modern day adventurers.
Whole Earth also supports preserving and restoring the environment. Volunteers from their stores have pitched in and helped clean up local natural areas and have taught outdoor education classes for children and teens. Stop by the store, ask where to take your next road trip, and fill up your brand new Osprey backpack with everything you need to make your next trip into wilderness as soul nourishing as you deserve.
– Via Roots Rated