We have traveled with a recreational vehicle and using motels and hotels. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. For us, one major advantage of an RV is that it can take you places where there are no motels.
In 2005, we spent several days in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The nearest motel is in White’s City, New Mexico, about 35 miles away. That is certainly doable, but you should plan to stay in the park at least a few days and a 70-mile round-trip commute might be challenging if the day includes hiking and exploring.
This was and is truly the “wild West” once inhabited by Mescalero Apaches, Kiowas and Comanches, explored by mountain men and trappers, crossed by immigrants looking to settle further west, and settled by a few hardy ranchers. It was the sight of bloody conflicts between the African-American Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry, First Americans and outlaws for eight years between 1867 and 1875.
McKittrick Canyon’s two-thousand-foot-high walls protect an oasis in the desert. It is thought to be named for Felix McKittrick who worked cattle in the area in the 1870s. Many feel it is the most beautiful spot in Texas, especially in the fall.
The first permanent structure was built by two bachelor brothers, the Raders, at The Frijole Ranch in 1876. Its thick stone walls were built near a spring.
Because we had a four-wheel drive vehicle, we were allowed a key to the gate at the beginning of a seven and a half-mile drive to the Williams Ranch. The drive in took us an hour. The building, built in 1908 in a style more appropriate to the East, was not open. But it proved a great place for an isolated picnic, we enjoyed being alone, and the scenery inspired mental images of pioneer life.
On your way to the Williams Ranch, you cross the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail. This stage coach line only ran from 1859 to 1861, but it was the first transcontinental (St. Louis to San Francisco) mail and passenger route. You can still see the track in the desert after all these years. Earlier we had walked around the “Pinery Butterfield Stage Coach Station” ruins near our campground. Our truck was slow by modern terms, but it was air-conditioned and comfortable as we imagined passengers on those stage coaches.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Dates of our visit: 22 April to 25 April, 2005