West of the Pecos

West of the Pecos
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

It was hard to say goodby to my old friends, but I needed to get on the road toward home. My first destination was Pecos, TX, a small town near the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Pecos is famous for holding the first ever rodeo, as well as being the home of the famous Judge Roy Bean. A saloonkeeper with no legal training, Bean was appointed justice of the peace and called himself “The Law west of the Pecos.”

It is said that you are not really in the West until you cross the Pecos River. That’s where the West of the Pecos museum gets its name. The museum fills all three floors of the old hotel downtown. Every one of the old bedrooms is filled with artifacts, with a theme for each room.

After visiting the museum I looked for a place to eat dinner and spotted Michelle’s Burgers and Steaks, a little family-owned place near my hotel. After eating my burger I was amazed to learn that a total stranger had already paid my bill!

From Pecos I followed the oil tanker trucks up the road to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I have seen a lot of caves but I was stunned by the vastness of Carlsbad. I don’t know if the photos do it justice. I visited The Big Room, where the self-guided tour loop is over a mile long!

After leaving Carlsbad, I followed US 62 back to El Paso, which conveniently takes you right through the southeast corner of Guadelupe Mountains National Park. Having spent the whole morning at Carlsbad, I didn’t have time to do much but gawk at these beautiful mountains, but it’s supposed to be a great place for hiking. In the fall I come east on Interstate 10 and the weather is usually too iffy to do much off-the-interstate exploring, so it’s a treat to see some of these places I’ve only looked at longingly on the map.


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