South of Carlsbad, NM (in the same reef as the caverns) is the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The park includes McKittrick Canyon. “Thousands of visitors come to Guadalupe Mountains National Park to visit McKittrick Canyon each year, especially during the latter part of October or early November for the sensational fall colors. In this tiny part of west Texas, the foliage (brilliant reds, subtle yellows, and deep browns) contrasts dramatically with the flavor of the arid Chihuahuan desert that includes century plants, prickly pear cacti, blacktail rattlers, steep canyon walls and crystal clear blue skies.” We had not visited the park in more than 30 years and made a special effort to be there the first week in November. We had taken our girls when they were about 5 and 7 and they were troopers. The walk in the canyon is about a mile before you hit the color and then several miles on. You can then climb up to wilderness camping (have to pack in water, etc.) which is about 7.4 miles. Our girls did that carrying packs that probably came close to their own weight. We had a great time and wonderful memories. The color proved to be as wonderful as we remembered. The contrast of Maple trees and stark desert and mountain background is breathtaking.
I only went a little over a mile (to the beginning of the color – did I really do many miles in past years???) and then rested while Bob walked on. The river/stream bed (as we remembered it) had some water in years past. The ranger told us they had flooding a few years back that dumped all the rocks you see here in the stream bed and any water is now buried. The size of the bed suggests water through there, when it happens, must be awesome!