Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Dog Canyon

Article and Photography by George Hosek

"High Country Hike"

A Hiking trip up through Dog Canyon then down through McKittrick Canyon.

I arrived at the Guadalupe Mountains at 4:00 am,  I folded the car seat back and slept for a couple of hours until sunrise. After the sun came up I shot the mountains from the Rest Stop (photo above).

From there I headed to the Park entrance so I could get a photo of the National Park sign (photo right).


I  meet my friends at the McKittrick Canyon Headquarters at 8:00 A.M. We paid the entrance fee and let the ranger know our plans, then loaded my gear into their car.

We left my car in the McKittrick parking lot, then drove the 120 miles to the backside of the park where the Dog Canyon campground is located.

We picked up our back country pass at the Dog Canyon Ranger Station, then relaxed for a few moments before it was time to pack up our gear and prepare for the long seven mile hike ahead.



The hike through Dog Canyon was outstanding! The trail was level at first, with a gradual rise over rolling hills covered with multicolored bigtooth maples. The color was very good considering we were at least a week early. Peak color is usually the last week of Oct. or the first week of Nov.



The trail starts to become much steeper as you move out of the canyon, hiking switchbacks is the only option. After about a mile, this was the view  looking back at Dog Canyon.



Another couple miles the trail levels out a little, then rewards you with this awesome view of "The Bowl" (photo above and below).

Two more miles of hiking switchbacks, we get our first glimpse of McKittrick Canyon ( photo right ).


When we finally reached the top of the mountain, we stopped at this overlook ( right ) and enjoyed the view for a few minutes before hiking the final couple hundred yards to our campsite.

After setting up my tent I start looking for a foreground subject for the star trail photograph that I want to take. It wasn't long before I found these four bare trees, I knew they would make a great silhouette, set against the bright light of the circling stars. What's hard to see is the meteor in the lower left side of the photo. Click here for large image.


The next morning I shot these impressive overlooks. In the photo below you can see McKittrick Canyon as it winds it's way through the mountains.

After a long, downhill hike to the McKittrick Canyon headquarters, we loaded our gear into my car and drove back to the Dog Canyon campground where I dropped them off.

I wish I would have been able to stay longer but unfortunately we had to get back. I can't wait until next October, I plan on making another trip to this incredible park.

Also see...Guadalupe Mountains National Park






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