Sunset Near Guadalupe Mountains NP
at Salt Flat
For the final fleeting moments of Day 5's daylight, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. During my 2006 trip to this area, I had driven across a huge salt flat, just west of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and photographed some ruins nearby. It seemed like a great place to enjoy the long shadows of sunset. So, I drove from Carlsbad Caverns National Park, past Guadalupe Mountains, to the old motel at the side of US 62/180.
There are several crumbling buildings at this roadside stop, as well as an old water tower. I think some of the graffiti is new, but everything else is nearly frozen in time, looking the same as when I visited five years earlier.
It's too bad these ruins are, well, ruins. Despite its remote location, this would be a good location for a small motel. There is no place to stay near any of the trailheads at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, meaning any park visitor must either camp, or stay at a motel at least a half-hour to an hour's drive away.
That said, I think there's very little chance that these old motel units can be rehabilitated.
In places, all that remains are towering chunks of concrete.
Walk around and explore, but watch your step. There are plenty of rusty nails, shards of broken glass, and other pieces of junk littering the area.
Just a few miles beyond the ruins, you can drive off the road and onto a perfectly flat lake bed. The Salt Flat is a great place to view El Capitan (the first peak from the right side of the photo) and Guadalupe Peak, the highest mountain in Texas (just left of El Capitan). Of course, Guadalupe Peak is a great place to view the Salt Flat, as well.
The sunset wasn't quite as beautiful as I had hoped. Some clouds would have helped. As it was, the sky seemed a little hazy -- but that's nothing that a little black-and-white can't fix. It was hard to believe that I was at the top of that mountain, earlier in the day.
Once the sun dipped below the horizon, my fun was over for the day. I made the long drive back to my motel room in Van Horn, mostly in the dark.
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