Home to the four highest peaks in Texas, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a perfect combination of striking natural beauty, stunning landscape, and captivating local history.
|Park||Guadalupe Mountains National Park|
|Things to do||Hiking, Sight Visit and many more.|
|Hotels near Guadalupe Mountains National Park||Sleep Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites Carlsbad and many more|
|Camping Locations||Multiple Locations|
Many hidden gems come under the radar when it comes to national parks, one of which is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park that might be perfect for your next vacation. In this travel guide, we’ll share the best thing to do in this Park to help you plan your next adventure. Let’s get started!
About Guadalupe Mountains National Park
This National Park is one of the two national parks in Texas, but not many people know about it. Located in the Guadalupe Mountains, the Park protects the four highest peaks in Texas, a Permian Fossil reef, and a fragile desert ecosystem.
The majestic Guadalupe peak is the highest point in Texas and offers incredible mountain views you won’t find anywhere else. Despite its lack of popularity, the Park is pretty awesome and offers plenty of things to see and explore, including majestic mountains, serene forests, massive canyons, and varied wildlife.
Guadalupe Mountains National is a great place for campers, hikers, and thrill-seekers, with more than 80 miles of finest hiking trails winding from the woodland canyons to plush springs where once a lifetime photo awaits.
History Of Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Evidence of human inhabitation in the Guadalupe Mountains dates back to more than 10,000 years. In the 16th century, the first Europeans arrived in the area, but they didn’t settle there. The Mescalero Apaches occupied the mountains through the mid-18th century but were driven out of the area by Buffalo Soldiers due to the Cavalry Regiment, ordered in 1869 to preserve the area.
In 1876, the first Ranch house, Frijole Ranch, was built, the only building in the region. In 1921, a geologist named Wallace Pratt visited the area, and impressed by the beauty of McKittrick Canyon, he donated 6,000 acres of land on which Guadalupe Mountain National Park was built.
In 1962, the National Park Service surveyed the Park and approved it. On October 1, 1956, President Lydon B. Johnson signed the act to establish the Park, and finally, on September 30, 1972, Guadalupe Mountain National Park was established.
Best Things To Do In The Park
Whether it’s your first time in the Park or you are revisiting, here are the top 5 must-see destinations in the Guadalupe National Park:
Guadalupe Peak is the highest peak in Texas and one of the top tourist attractions in the Park. The peak provides tremendous views and surrounding mountains and deserts. The 8.4 miles round trip hike is strenuous but rewarding and takes 6-8 hours to complete depending on your fitness level and how often you’ll be stopping to take photos. High winds are common in the area, so make sure to check the weather before hiking.
Salt Basin Dunes
Salt Basin Dunes are another prevalent sight in the stark desert of the Guadalupe Mountains. Like dunes in the White Sands National Park., this unique gypsum dunefield offers one of the best views of the mighty Guadalupe mountains. The backdrop of stunning mountains looks fantastic from a subtle distance and has the most potential for landscape photographers. The dunes are continuously growing up to one-third of an inch each year. This area is astoundingly vast and quiet, so be careful and don’t venture too far into the dunes, or you may get lost.
Devil’s Hall Trail
Devil’s Hall Trail is a 4.2-mile round-trip hike starting from Pine Spring that takes you to a geographical marvel of thin-layered strata. The landscape is quite unusual, narrow, and interesting to see up close. The trail flows the dry, rocky wash running through the Canyon, which leads to the natural rock staircase leading to the toe “hallway” created by steep canyon walls. The trail is quite strenuous with loose rock surfaces and rock scrambling, but you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of geological formations, mountains tops, and steep photogenic canyon walls.
McKittrick Canyon is a crown jewel of this Park. Thousands of visitors come to Guadalupe National Park just to see the McKittrick Canyon, an enchanting wonderland of lush and abundant flora and fauna. The Canyon was preserved as a pristine portion of this Park. From strenuous hikes to flat strolls, the Canyon offers a variety of trail options for every hiker. The best time to visit the Canyon is during October and early November, when the Canyon displays beautiful fall colors.
Smith Spring trail is one of the shortest hikes in the Park, perfect for families with small children. This 2.3-mile loop trail climbs several thousand feet into the high wooded country and takes you to a small desert oasis hidden in the stark Guadalupe mountains. The spring has a lovely blue color, and it’s fantastic to see its impact on the surrounding environment. On your way to the spring, you’ll get past the Spring Manzanita, the second most popular stream in the Park, so take a moment and stop there as well.
Best Time To Visit
Spring and Fall are the ideal times to visit the Guadalupe National Park when the temperatures are mild, and maple leaves change their colors and bath McKittrick Canyon and other areas in the Park with beautiful yellow, orange, and red colors.
Map Of Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Download the Park’s map before your visit and familiarize yourself with all the roads, trails, and points of interest. You can download the official map on the NPS website.
Best Hotels Near Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe National Park is located in a very remote area and doesn’t have any lodging options. Here are some best hotels near the Park that are worth checking out:
Camping Locations At Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The Park has two developed campgrounds, including Pine Springs Campground and Dog Canyon Campground. There are plenty of tent sites and RV spaces, along with two group campsites. No reservations are required for camping as the Campgrounds are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Weather Of Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Weather in the Park changes drastically based on elevations. Summer and Spring in the Guadalupe National Park are generally warm with occasional showers. Winters and Fall bring cooler temperatures with snowing during December and January. Heavy winds can whip down the mountain slopes, and thunderstorms can blow out of nowhere during summers. Make sure to check out the latest weather forecast before visiting the Park.
Entry Fee & Reservations
The Park charges an entrance fee of $10 per person, valid for 7-days. Park’s Annual Pass costs $35 and allows free entry for up to four adults and a private vehicle. Holders of America the Beautiful, Senior, Military, and 4th grader access pass can enter for free. For more information about entry passes and eligibility, visit the NPS website.
Here are some must-have items you should bring with yourself to the park:
- Hiking Daypack
- Seasonal clothes
- Hiking boots
- Sun hat & Sunscreen
- Plenty of water or hydration system
- High energy snacks
- Pocket knife
- First-aid kit
- Bug Spray
- Map & Compass
How much time does it take to explore Guadalupe Mountains National Park?
The Park can be best explored in 2-3 days, with one day devoted to historical attractions, one to the hiking trails, and the last one allotted to McKittrick Canyon.
Are there any lodging options inside the Park?
No, there is no loading available in the Park. However, you can find reasonable lodging options outside the Park, including Dell City and Whites City, located 40 miles and 35 miles away, respectively.
Do I need to make reservations for camping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park?
No, no reservations are required to camp in the Park. All the campgrounds are available on a first-come-first-served basis.