The way up to the top of the mountain is always longer than you think. Don’t fool yourself, the moment will arrive when what seemed so near is still so far.Paulo Coelho
About the Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park features the Guadalupe Mountains, which contains Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet. This park in West Texas is on the border of New Mexico and only 32 miles from Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico. We could see both of these small but exciting parks on back-to-back days.
Check out this beautiful view of the park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Stop at the Pine Springs Visitor Center for park information
- Hike Guadalupe Peak for a fantastic view. This is the highest point in the park
- Explore, hike, and learn some history at the Frijole Ranch
- Hike the McKittrick Canyon Trail. Autumn is the best time to see the fall colors
- Make the short trip up to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and see another national park
It was a long drive on some very straight roads from Big Bend National Park to Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas. John was jumping for joy that we had almost made it! (Check out that incredible leaping ability 😳)
Size of Park
Guadalupe Peak in the park is the highest point in Texas at 8,751’
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is situated in western Texas. The park was established in the 1970s and covers over 80,000 acres of land near the New Mexico border. Guadalupe Mountains National Park preserves the most extensive Permian fossil reef in the world, along with a diverse collection of flora and fauna.
The park is primarily known for its Salt Basin Dunes, fossilized reef mountains, and grassland. The highest peak in the state, Guadalupe Peak, is also located in the park and can be accessed through the Guadalupe Peak Trail. The Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness is also home to black bears, although hikers rarely see them.
Some of the activities inside the park include visiting the historical attractions, visitor center, and trails in the Pine Springs section. McKittrick Canyon is the most popular tourist attraction here, so plan for an entire day to see it.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park has a variety of excellent trails.
The Guadalupe Peak Trail is a difficult one as the entire round trip is almost nine miles, where the trail gains an elevation of 3,000 feet. The trail leads to the 2,667 meters tall Guadalupe Peak. For most people, it can take 7 to 8 hours to complete.
By embarking on this journey, you will be able to see the landscape in a different light, especially the rocky El Capitan peak to the south. However, the hike is long and very strenuous, which is why it is only recommended to experienced hikers.
This 4.5 miles trail offers a hike with a moderate difficulty level. With an elevation of only 800 feet, many beginners like to hike on this track as it is relatively easy.
Hiking on this trail, you will experience solitude, which other trails inside the park may not offer. The path could be more popular among tourists, and trekking here will give you the benefit of spending quality time admiring the ecosystem of the foothills.
This is a nine-mile trail that is relatively difficult. With an elevation of almost 2,500 feet, the trail is quite famous among geologists. Years of erosion have gifted this trail with some amazing features, including its fossils and crystalline structures. The steep ascent is ultimately rewarded with a unique view. Before you descend, you will also get to straddle the Texas and New Mexico border.
This easy trail is perfect for families visiting the national park. The trail is only 0.6 miles long and has an elevation of 85 feet. The track circles Indian Meadow, where you will experience calm breezes across the desert grass. Moreover, the meadow is also surrounded by the Guadalupe Mountains, which only elevates the magnificent scenery.
The hike on McKittrick Canyon Trail can take 8 to 10 hours. The trail is well known for its fall foliage and is often preferred by many hikers in autumn. Some trees you will find along the trail include pine, juniper, maple, and madrone. This trail also provides access to the only permanent water source in the park, as most of the streams in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park are seasonal.
Camping in the Park
The National Park has three developed campgrounds: Dog Canyon Campground, Pine Springs Campground, and Frijole Horse Corral Campground. These campgrounds are available year-round and accommodate tents and vehicles. Campsites in Pine Springs and Dog Canyon Campgrounds can be reserved up to 6 months in advance.
This campground is located at an elevation of 6,300 feet in elevation. The campground has 4 RV sites, nine tent sites, and one group that can be reserved for a group of 20 individuals. Some of the amenities include flush toilets and drinking water. However, the campground has no hookups, dump stations, or showers. Wood fires are also not permitted on the campsites.
With 20 tent sites, 13 RV sites, and 2 group sites, the Pine Springs Campground offers drinking water and toilets without hookups or showers. The campsites also have partial shade (due to the oaks) and picnic tables.
Near Pine Springs, Frijole Horse Corral Campground is a short distance from the highway. While the campground offers trash collection, tent pads, and pit toilets, it does not have other amenities like food storage lockers, ice, firewood, or a camp store. Trailer parking is also available for horse users and group campers.
If you are looking for a camping spot outside the park, you will find plenty of places to park your RV or pitch your tent near the Guadalupe Mountains. Try the Bush Mountain Campground as another option.
Salt Basin Dunes
A trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is incomplete without visiting its Great Salt Basin Dunes. This landscape was created over time by water, wind, and earthquakes. Dark cryptogamic crust covers much of the sandy soil, while gypsum and salt deposits make for an incredible sight. Visitors are instructed to avoid walking on the black crust of cryptogams and stay on the established trails to protect this unique landscape.
Due to its stunning fall colors, McKittrick Canyon alone is responsible for thousands of visitors flocking here each year. Visitors also experience the arid Chihuahuan Desert, which is home to prickly pear cacti, century plants, steep canyon walls, and blacktail rattlers.
Dog Canyon has more trees than Pine Springs and is in a secluded part of the park. Standing on the edge of the wilderness boundary, this viewpoint offers visitors much-needed solitude. In addition, this is a wonderful area for activities like birding.
Located in McKittrick Canyon, the hike to Pratt Cabin is relatively short, 4.7 miles out and back. Geologist Wallace Pratt built this stone cabin in the early 20th century. In the 1960s, the cabin was donated to the park, and today, it is used by hikers as a picnic and rest area. Surrounded by the desert Mountains and plants, the cabin offers quite a picturesque scene.
Built-in 1908, the old ranch is located in the middle of nowhere. Getting to the ranch requires a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance, as the ride is rough. This place provides a peek into the remote western escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains.
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