Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

in Texas is one of the newer parks in the country. It’s home to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in all of Texas at 8,749 feet. The park also has the ruins of an old stagecoach station, and the restored Frijole Ranch which hosts a museum of ranching history. The park is in the same mountain range as Carlsbad Caverns, 25 miles to the north.

In part because the park is newer, there are fewer amenities than other national parks. Plan on filling your gas tank before arriving, and bring your own food to eat as there are no restaurants. Cell phone service is also very unreliable. However, all of this also means you’re guaranteed more solitude and fewer crowds than if you headed to a park with more conveniences.

As with many mountain areas, weather can change quickly. During the spring and summer months, temperatures during the day are often between 70-80°F, and evening lows are between 40-60°F. In fall and winter, highs are in the 50’s-60’s and dip at night to 30-50°F.

Towns around the Guadalupe Mountains are few and far between, but there are some fun and unique places to visit. The park is near the border of Texas and New Mexico and you can take side trips to learn more about everything from green chiles to UFO activity.

There are plenty of activities to do inside the park as well. From hiking and backpacking to horseback riding to stargazing, you’ll find plenty of ways to appreciate the natural beauty of west Texas. Along with self-led activities, there are planned events at the park as well. You can find a full calendar of park activities here.

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Weather
Spring 70-80 F
Summer 70-80 F
Fall 50-60s F
Winter 30-60s F
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Nearby Cities
Dell City, TX
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Where To Stay

There are two campgrounds within the park that offer RV camping, but neither one has hookups or dump stations. There are also more options for camping in the towns nearby on either side of the park.

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Hit the Trails

There are a variety of trails in the park. Choose to wander next to a cool stream or find an outlook with a spectacular view of the desert. You can also find trails for every ability, from short paved trails to rocky scrambles up mountain peaks.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Pine Springs Trails

Frijole/Foothills

Distance: 8.4 miles

Terrain: The Frijole and Foothills trails connect between Pine Springs Campground and Frijole Ranch. You can begin at either end and get a nice look at Chihuahuan desert vegetation and views over the desert. The trail is less popular and a good bit of solitude in the park.

Devil’s Hall

Distance: 4.2 miles round trip

Terrain: Parts of the trail are not maintained, but simply follow the canyon bottom, climbing back up at the Hiker’s Staircase and ending at the narrow canyon of Devil’s Hall. The route does involve some boulder scrambling.

Guadalupe Peak

Distance: 8.5 miles round trip with 3,000 foot elevation gain

Terrain: Steep switchbacks over rocky terrain lead to the top of Guadalupe Peak with sweeping views. Be sure to sign the register at the top!

The Bowl

Distance: 9.1 miles round trip with 2,500 foot elevation gain

Terrain: Hike out of the Chihuahuan desert to a coniferous forest of pine and Douglas fir on this strenuous but rewarding hike.

El Capitan/Salt Basin Overlook

Distance: 11.3 miles round trip

Terrain: The trail leads through the desert to the base of El Capitan and the Salt Basin Overlook.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park McKittrick Canyon Trails

McKittrick Canyon Nature

Distance: 0.9 miles round trip

Terrain: Junipers, shrubs, and grasses are fed by an intermittent seep, exhibits along the trail share information on common plants and explain Permian Reef geology.

McKittrick Canyon

Distance: 4.8 miles round trip

Terrain: Follow a stream through desert and canyon woods to the historic Pratt lodge and adjoining Grotto picnic area and Hunter Cabin.

Permian Reef

Distance: 8.4 miles round trip with 2,000 foot elevation gain

Terrain: The trail has stop markers that can be used with a geology guide available at the Visitor Center. Excellent views of McKittrick Canyon from the top of Wilderness Ridge.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Frijole Ranch Trails

Manzanita Spring

Distance: 0.5 mile round trip

Terrain: A short, paved trail leads from the ranch house to Manzanita Spring. The trail is wheelchair accessible.

Smith Spring

Distance: 2.3 miles round trip

Terrain: A loop trail to the shady Smith Spring, then on to the sunny Manzanita Spring. See evidence of the 1990 and 1993 wildland fires.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Dog Canyon Trailhead

Indian Meadow Nature

Distance: 0.6 miles round trip

Terrain: A level trail across an arroyo. A free trail guide offers information and insights on the natural and cultural history of the meadow.

Marcus Overlook

Distance: 4.5 miles round trip

Terrain: This moderate-rated trail drops steeply at times, but at others levels off. Great views of West Dog Canyon and Manzanita Ridge.

Lost Peak

Distance: 6.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1540

Terrain: The trail wanders through open meadow into a canyon bottom lined with alligator juniper, ponderosa pine, chinkapin oak, and bigtooth maple. Then begin a steep climb to Lost Peak - the trail levels out at the summit and reaches a junction with the McKittrick Ridge Trail.

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What to Do

Although there is no food available in the park, you can find several places to eat in the surrounding towns. Grab a green chile burger or some delicious local Mexican food, do some shopping in Carlsbad, or take a trip to the International UFO Museum.

Restaurants

May’s Cafe

Type: Burgers

Location: Cornudas

Salt Flat Cafe

Type: Cafe

Location: Salt Flat

Queen Store & Cafe

Type: Burgers

Location: Carlsbad

Junior’s Burritos & Mexican Restaurant

Type: Mexican

Location: Carlsbad

Spanish Angels Cafe

Type: Mexican

Location: Dell City

Shopping

Rugged Trade

What began as a western store has evolved - Rugged Trade now sells boots (cowboy and other), clothing, jewelry, sandals, and more.

Location: Carlsbad

Pecos River Antique Mall

Shop antiques and collectibles including restored American antique furniture, depression glass, Western items, pottery, books, and other items.

Location: Carlsbad

White’s City Gift Shop

This shop is half convenience store, half souvenir shop, with turquoise jewelry, knick-knacks, souvenir T’s and other items. Be sure to pose next to the giant green wooden aliens before you leave!

Location: White’s City

The Artist Gallery

Local artists display their handcrafted goods and fine art which represents the southwest culture of New Mexico. Browse and purchase anything from pictures and paintings to ceramics and pottery to jewelry and other handmade items at surprisingly affordable prices.

Location: Carlsbad

Marsha’s Vintage & Vogue Boutique

Browse this local clothing boutique for hair accessories, bags, women’s clothing, southwestern-style jewelry, and more.

Location: Carlsbad

Museums

Frijole Ranch History Museum

The history museum inside Guadalupe Mountains National Park occupies the old ranch headquarters and shares the history of the Guadalupes. From Native Americans and early ranchers to the fairly recent establishment of a national park, learn how the region has changed over the years. Visit the one-room schoolhouse and spring house next door and see how farmers managed to get precious water to their crops and families.

Carlsbad Museum & Art Center

The museum features displays focusing on the history of Carlsbad and its surrounding areas, along with Native American art and modern Southwestern art. As a community art center, the museum also exhibitions of student art, a quilt show, and other art exhibitions for local groups.

International UFO Museum and Research Center

Are we alone in this universe? See if you can answer that question at this museum in Roswell. The museum serves to “inform the public about what has come to be known as ‘The Roswell Incident’.” See displays and read information the museum has collected...and then decide for yourself!

New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

This interactive museum shares the 4,000 year history of farming and ranching in New Mexico. Along with indoor exhibits, visitors can see livestock, wander the gardens, or watch a live blacksmith demonstration

Clark Hotel Museum

The oldest building in Van Horn, Texas is an adobe saloon and post office built in 1901. It later served as the county courthouse, then a hotel which also hosted theatre performances and school graduations. As a museum today, visitors can see the massive antique bar, early farming and ranching equipment, a 100-year old kitchen, and an ore car from the Hazel Silver Mine.

Sightseeing

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Explore a labyrinth of caves below the southern New Mexico desert. If you’re visiting the limestone caves from spring to fall, be sure to watch the 400,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats as they leave each evening at dusk.

Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park

This wildlife zoo, featuring more than 40 species of animals and hundreds of species of plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert, allows visitors to get up close to local flora and fauna. There are a variety of interpretive programs for every season of the year, plus hiking trails and a picnic area.

Green Chile Tour

Learn more about the fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!) that New Mexico is known for. Take a tour of the Chile Pepper Institute Teaching Garden and see the more than 150 varieties of chile peppers grown there.

White Sands National Monument

Great wave-like dunes of sand rise from the Tularosa Basin, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. For a unique experience, try sledding down the dunes, just like you would a snowy hill.

Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area

Picnic or just relax by a 150-ft waterfall that pours over the canyon walls. Take the paved path through the canyon to the falls, or try another of the 16 miles of canyonland trails designated for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Park visitors can also use the shaded picnic tables and charcoal grills.

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How to Get There

The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in far West Texas on US Highway 62/180, 110 miles east of El Paso and 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, N.M.

By Car

If you’re driving from El Paso, head east on I-10 to US 180E/US 62E and into the park. If you’re approaching from Carlsbad, take 285S to  US 180E/US62E. If you’re headed to the Dog Canyon area on the north side of the park, take New Mexico State Road 137.


By plane

If you choose to fly to the area, the closest large airport is in El Paso. You can also fly to Albuquerque, Lubbock, or Midland, TX. Mesa Airlines also offers smaller flights between Albuquerque and Carlsbad.

By RV

You can also travel to and around the area in a rental RV. Renting an RV allows you to travel comfortably and at your own pace. Whether you rent an RV at home and drive to the park or fly into the area and rent an RV closer to your destination, there’s an option for you!

While there are only two first-come, first-serve campgrounds in the park, there are plenty of options nearby. Be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time to make sure you have a place to stay.

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Entering the Park

There is a small fee to enter Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Unlike most national parks, they charge a per-person fee, and children under 16 are free. There are also several free entrance days, which you can find here. You can pay with the green fee envelopes available at all trailheads or at the Pine Springs visitor center, then display your stub in your vehicle window. If you have an annual pass, a Lifetime pass, a 4th grade pass, or any other pass that allows you entry into every park, be sure to fill out an envelope and include your pass number or get a hang tag, available at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.  

Per Person : $5

The fee for Guadalupe Mountains National Park is $5 per person for adults 16 years of age and older. It is good for 7 days.

A trip to the Chihuahuan desert and mountain peaks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a great way to experience the desert in all its beauty. We here at RVshare love helping people explore the outdoors and create memories with friends and family. RVing is a wonderful way to experience the desert - and many other places - with those you love. Whether you visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park in an RV rental from us or on your own, we’d love to hear about your trip! Be sure to send us photos at [email protected] and tag us on social media to share details and tips about your visit. Your adventures could be featured on our blog and social media channels!