Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The Guadalupe Mountains are the remnants of a barrier reef that grew beneath the waters of an ancient sea. From a distance, the contour of this mountain range appears as a wall of rock across the desert. Up close, however, you'll find dramatically varying landscape, from sculptured canyons to sand dunes to conifer forests. It's this unique terrain that makes Guadalupe Mountains National Park a popular spot for visitors.Human habitation in the area dates back nearly 12,000 years. Its first residents were indigenous tribes who left behind spear tips, baskets and pottery, indicating that they were hunters and gatherers and probably nomadic. For hundreds of years, Apache tribes found this to be a hospitable home because of its mountain springs and abundance of wildlife.Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a 40-minute drive southwest of Carlsbad Caverns. Its mountain range is one of the most significant sources of Permian limestone in the world, and is a popular place of study for geologists. Because of varying topography and habitats, the park is home to hundreds of plant and bird species, 60 species of mammals, and 55 varieties of reptiles and amphibians.What to see and do: Over 80 miles of trails offer challenge and interest to all levels of hikers, although rough terrain and unpredictable weather should be considered. It can take up to ten hours to cross some trails; stop by the visitor center and pick up a trail guide or chat with personnel about conditions and other information.Day hikes include Guadalupe Peak, Bowl, El Capitan, and Pine Springs trails. At 8,749 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, and the view is spectacular on a clear day. The 8.4-mile (round trip) trail is strenuous although well-marked, and rock-climbing experience is not necessary. The Bowl Trail takes you on a "High Country" trek through conifer forest that is typical of regions several hundred miles to the north. This trail is also strenuous and is about nine miles round trip. A more moderate trail is El Capitan, which leads through Chihuahuan desert to the base of the El Capitan peak. The trip is a total of 11 miles, and you can climb up to the Salt Basin Overlook for an impressive view. The Pine Springs Trailhead is another moderately rated trail and runs parallel with the Guadalupe Peak Trail before merging with the Devil's Hall Trail. A four-mile round trip, the trail's terrain is rocky and takes you through a canyon corridor that is narrow in spots.One of the most popular visitor destinations at Guadalupe Mountains National Park is McKittrick Canyon. Containing the only perennial stream in the park, McKittrick blazes with color in October and November when the oaks and maples turn to brilliant reds and yellows. You can also backpack into the backcountry. A free use permit is required and issued in person a maximum of 24 hours before your trip. Permits are available at the Headquarters Visitor Center, where you can also pick up safety guides, maps, and information on current conditions, or participate in an orientation program. Horseback riding is a popular way to get around the park, although some trails can be difficult to negotiate. Horses are allowed for day use only, and only at trailheads near the Dog Canyon and Frijole Ranch stock corrals where you can stable your animal while you camp nearby The park does not offer horses for hire. If mountain biking is more your style, try out the Williams Ranch 4x4 road. Biking on trails is strictly prohibited. The fragile composition of the stone makes technical climbing unsafe in this park, but you'll have better luck at Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso.Two campgrounds, Pine Springs and Dog Canyon, accommodate tents, recreational vehicles, and visitors with special needs. Reservations are required for the group sites, and no RV hookups are provided.
400 Pine Canyon Rd
- Texas, United States of America 79847
- 31.89196400, -104.82080100
- Visit Website
- (915) 828-3251