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Hiker Mary Baxter rests after ascending Guadalupe Peak. The summit affords views from the highest point in Texas, as marked by the stainless steel pyramid. (Photos by E. Dan Klepper)

I am standing on the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, tracing the Earth’s curvature with my fingertip. The horizon bends like a longbow at this height—8,749 feet above sea level—and a gauzy canopy hangs above it, capped by an azure sky.

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park celebrates its 40th anniversary with a day full of activities on October 6. Until then, join the Park for the Peak Fitness Challenge, a collaboration among Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Franklin Mountains National Park, Texas Mountain Trail, and GeoBetty.com, which encourages both new and experienced hikers to hit the trails. Visit their sites for more information or to register for the challenge.

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Known for its sand hills, this West Texas town offfers desert surprises. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

When a friend told me that the largest oak forest in North America covers some 40,000 acres near Monahans, it sounded like a setup. Yeah, right.

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After driving the many miles required to reach Alpine from just about anywhere, a lot of folks see this town as if it’s the last stop on the roaring open road to Big Bend National Park. But here’s my best advice any time you get close enough to feel Alpine’s gravitational pull: Just give in. Failing to stop and explore the biggest little town in the Texas Outback is like trying to huff up Mount Everest without spending any time acclimating at base camp.

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By June NaylorWHILE it would seem that there’s been some enormous shift in the zeitgeist that has long defined this old ranching town in West Texas’ Big Bend region, there’s no reason to panic. Yes, folks from the East and West coasts have discovered Marfa, and real estate prices have taken off like a rocket, but so far, I’d say it’s working out nicely.

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Once I passed Lake Amistad, northwest of Del Rio, traffic on US 90 thinned out across the spare desert scenery. My fellow travelers—18-wheelers and perhaps tourists bound for the Davis Mountains or Big Bend National Park—continued the gradual climb toward the mountains of the Trans-Pecos. I turned off just before the high bridge over the Pecos River and veered onto backroads to view some of the oldest and best-preserved rock art in North America.
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