Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The rugged slopes of this far-out park, little-changed for centuries, lure professional and amateur geologists alike with one of the finest examples of an ancient fossil reef anywhere on the planet, and captivate wildlife watchers of all sorts with an incredible diversity of habitats. These slopes are home to hundreds of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else. Roads don’t go far here, which keeps down the crowds, and the noise. Instead, you can explore the park via 80 miles of trails. The steep trek up Guadalupe Peak rewards hikers with an incredible view of miles and miles of Texas, barely marred by human hands. On the shady McKittrick Canyon trail, madrone and maple trees mix with more expected plants like agave and yucca. The middle of nowhere never looked so good.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 915/828-3251; www.nps.gov/gumo.