Every Kid Outdoors was created so fourth graders and their families could discover our wildlife, resources, and history for free.
Since Tyson qualified, it was time to pack our bags and go explore. On spring break, we hit the road and headed west...
Eight days and seven nights. Over 2,000 miles driven. Over 24 hours on the road.
Four national parks visited.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The plan was to first visit Carlsbad Caverns since we just came into town the day before (after driving 10+ hours) so I didn't want to do anything strenuous right off the bat. I figured a stroll through the caverns on a wheelchair accessible path sounded quite leisurely. But when we arrived at 8:30 am (30 minutes after the visitor center opened), they were already sold out of tickets. So we pivot and went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park (another 30 minutes down the road).
Without much preparation, we went on what would be the toughest hike of the trip... Devil's Hall Trail. It was nearly a 7 mile roundtrip hike from the car to Devil's Hall and back, taking over 5 hours. The trek was already difficult for a 5 year old girl but when Elliot got tired and fell asleep, it made it that much more brutal. Carrying nearly 40 pounds of dead weight on rocky terrain was no easy task.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Attempt #2: We arrived an hour before the visitor center opened but when we got there, the line had already wrapped around the parking lot. Uh oh. The limit is 1000 visitors a day so even though the line was crazy long, there weren't a thousand people in front of us and we eventually got tickets to get into the caverns.
It was pretty cool in the caverns, temperature wise and neat. My favorite part, the bottomless pit.
White Sands National Park
A three hour drive from where we were staying (Carlsbad, NM) brought us to White Sands. Miles and miles of white sand but it felt different. Better different. It was soft and fluffy, not grainy like beach sand. It was gypsum sand and we were at the world's largest gypsum dunefield.
We went sledding down the dunes. The kids ran up and down, and even rolled around in the sand. We could've stayed all day but after spending 4+ hours at the park, we had to leave since I had another long drive back. Everyone agreed this was their favorite park of the trip.
Big Bend National Park
Even though we've been to Big Bend NP (nearly 4 years ago) the kids were much smaller then. And I wanted to do a hike that I missed out on the previous time... the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. Here we would hike along the Rio Grande River and cross the cold water and into Mexico.
|Elliot getting her fourth Junior Ranger badge.|
We stayed in a casita (Terlingua, TX) for the second half of our trip. No TV. No phone. No internet. The place did have WiFi but I wanted the kids to disconnect... to just hang out without the need of electronics.