DescriptionGuadalupe Mountains National Park is 110 miles east of El Paso on US 62/180. The park's 86,416 acres occupy a rugged scenic section of the Guadalupe Mountains and include 8,751-foot Guadalupe Peak, the highest elevation in Texas.
The mountains are uplifted remains of the Capitán Reef Complex that originated 260-270 million years ago during the Permian era when an inland sea covered part of what is now West Texas and Southern New Mexico. The 400-mile-long, horseshoe-shaped reef lies exposed in three places—the Apache, Glass and Guadalupe mountains. The Guadalupe Range forms a massive wedge towering above the West Texas desert; at the apex is the 1,000-foot sheer cliff, El Capitán.
Despite their barren appearance, the Guadalupes encompass stands of pine, fir and hardwoods that harbor elk and mule deer as well as javelinas, a variety of birds and an occasional cougar.
By the end of the 19th century the Mescalero Apaches, who had hunted and lived in the Guadalupes, had been expelled by the U.S. Army, including the Buffalo Soldiers, to make way for westward expansion and ranching activities. Relics of this period—buildings from the Williams and Frijole ranches as well as the remains of an Overland Mail stage station—can be seen in the park.
General InformationGuadalupe Mountains National Park and its facilities are open all year. Information about evening programs and other park activities can be obtained at the Pine Springs Visitor Center or the Dog Canyon Ranger Station.
There are no roads through the park. The only major route to the park is US 62/180. This road briefly crosses the southeast corner of the park and offers views of El Capitán, Guadalupe Peak and the eastern and western escarpment. Along the route are the ruins of The Pinery, an Overland Mail stage station just east of the Pine Springs Visitor Center.
Three short spurs off US 62/180 lead to McKittrick Canyon, the Pine Springs/Headquarters Visitor Center campground complex and Frijole Ranch. The Frijole Ranch House contains the Frijole Ranch History Museum, which traces the human history of the area from more than 10,000 years ago to the present.
While the park lacks roads, it does offer 86 miles of trails for hikers, ranging from .5 to 18 miles. One of the more popular routes begins at the McKittrick Canyon Contact Station and progresses through the lush and twisting McKittrick Canyon. This trail, a relatively short 4.8 miles to Pratt Cabin and 6.8 miles to the Grotto and the Hunter Line Cabin, is limited to day use.
An even shorter hike is the 2.3-mile loop from the historic Frijole Ranch to Smith and Manzanita Springs and back. Longer hikes include travel to Guadalupe Peak, The Bowl and the base of El Capitán. Hikers should always carry and drink water—at least one gallon per person per day.
A slideshow is offered at the Pine Springs Visitor Center (see attraction listing). Campgrounds at Pine Springs and Upper Dog Canyon are open all year on a first-come, first-served basis. Pine Springs is off US 62/180, and Upper Dog Canyon is at the end of New Mexico SR 137. Tent and RV camping are permitted at a cost of $8 per space per night; no hookups are available.
The closest gasoline stations are 35 miles northeast in White's City, 50 miles west in Dell City and 65 miles south in Van Horn.
The brilliant foliage of McKittrick Canyon, Devil's Hall, Smith Spring and Dog Canyon makes fall the most popular season, but the spring also is beautiful and not as crowded. In general, the summers are warm and winters mild, with temperatures varying with the altitude. Be aware that sudden changes in the weather are common and often are accompanied by strong winds, lightning storms and occasional heavy downpours.
ADMISSIONADMISSION to the park, valid for 7 days, is $5; free (ages 0-15).
PETSPETS must be on a leash or otherwise physically restricted; they are not permitted in public buildings or on trails.
ADDRESSADDRESS inquiries to the Superintendent, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 400 Pine Canyon Rd., Salt Flat, TX 79847; phone (915) 828-3251.
Points of Interest
Things to SeeMcKittrick Canyon
GEM DescriptionLocated within the park's 86,416 acres is Guadalupe Peak, the highest elevation in Texas.