Despite the wind, and the remoteness (the park is 35 miles from the nearest gas station, the nearest town, Carlsbad, New Mexico, is 70) the visitor center parking lot and the campground were packed. Americans love their National Parks!
|Hunter Line Cabin|
It's been the same at every National Park, Monument, Memorial or Wildlife Refuge that we've visited. Car license plates are from all over the country, and the people, from all over the world. It's been said many times, but it's no less true, our Parks are our national treasure. Each one striving to preserve and at the same time provide access to the special aspects of this country.
Guadalupe is no exception. The mountains, for which it is famous, are actually an ancient coral reef. Rising as they do now from the desert it holds countless canyons and hidden springs. Like most parks and monuments, the land here is recovering from past human made modifications, even as Park Rangers actively encourage leave-no-trace enjoyment for current visitors. Guadalupe's Frijole Ranch is one of the remaining historic structures. Built from local limestone blocks in the late 1800's it sits next to the Frijole spring. Past owners used that spring to irrigate crops and fruit trees. The ranchers relied on the nearby Manzanita and Smith Springs to water livestock. Today the cabin is maintained, but only a few fruit trees remain. Foot paths lead hikers on a 2 mile loop to the other springs, but hikers are to stay on the trail and let nature restore the land.
But wait there's more! Not only do American's love their National Parks, and the wild places it preserves, they also benefit the economy. According the Outdoor Recreation Association: "Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in the United States, each year generating $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs."
Americans also love a bargain and for those economically minded folks there is more good news, the parks are relatively cheap to run. According to a dated 2005 NPS study, 137,000 volunteers, like S.D. and I, "donated 5.2 million hours to your national parks at a value of $91.2 million.." The employees also do not make the big bucks.
Almost every day since we arrived we've taken a hike. On every one of those hikes we've meet other hikers, on the weekend it was lots of hikers. Everyone enjoying the many benefits of our great Parks.