Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

In A Nutshell

Getting Around

Although the approach to Guadalupe Mountains National Park from any direction offers a spectacular view of the towering mountain range and its vast surrounding desert, once you reach the park, there are no scenic drives through its interior. Park roads only provide access to the Headquarters Visitor Center and Pine Springs Campground, the McKittrick Canyon Contact Station, Frijole Ranch, Williams Ranch (4X4 only), Dog Canyon, and trailheads.

Most visitors enjoy the park by hiking along one of over 80 miles of trails. There are two trails that are short, paved and easy, several that are level, but rocky (rated moderate), and many long hikes that are steep, rugged, and strenuous. Trails lead to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, around the base of El Capitan, up into the highcountry, and into McKittrick Canyon. Self-guided nature trails are located at McKittrick Canyon (McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail), the Headquarters Visitor Center (Pinery Trail), and at Dog Canyon (Indian Meadow Trail).

Things To Know Before You Come

Accessibility

Facilities

  • The Headquarters Visitor Center and rest rooms are accessible for persons with mobility impairments.
  • The Frijole Ranch History Museum is also accessible, but there are no restrooms at this location.
  • The McKittrick Canyon Contact Station is also accessible for persons with mobility impairments.

Trails
The .3 mile Pinery Trail from the visitor center to the Butterfield Stage Ruins is paved (but has a slight grade), while the .2 mile trail to Manzanita Spring from the Frijole Ranch History Museum is both paved and level.

Goods and Services
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a remote, rugged wilderness park located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180, between El Paso, Texas and Carlsbad, New Mexico. While isolation and solitude are desirable traits of the park, facilities and services within and near the park are extremely limited. There are no restaurants, service stations, convenience stores, or overnight lodging (except camping) available in the park. The closest location for ice, groceries, showers, and lodging is 35 miles east in White's City, NM. Gasoline is also available there, or 32 miles west of the park on U.S. 62/180. Consider the park's remote location; plan your trip wisely and bring everything with you.

Additional services, including restaurants, service stations, motels, and RV parks with hook-ups and dump station, and ATM machines are available in Van Horn, Texas, 65 miles south on Texas State Highway 54, or Carlsbad, New Mexico, 56 miles east on U.S. Highway 62/180.

Weather and Climate

Visitors may generally expect relatively hot summers, calm mild autumn weather and cool to cold weather in winter and early spring. Snow storms, freezing rain, or fog may occur in winter or early spring. Frequent high wind warnings are issued winter through spring. Late summer monsoons produce thunderstorms. Cool nights, even in summer.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is open year-round and offers a variety of outdoor activities including backpacking, camping, and hiking. While most trails and both of the park's campgrounds are available for use anytime, park facilities have posted hours, and several park locations are designated as day-use only. The following offers specific information about various park locations and their operating hours:

Headquarters Visitor Center
The Headquarters Visitor Center is located at Pine Springs and can be accessed via U.S. Highway 62/180 between Carlsbad, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. The visitor center is open daily except Christmas Day. Hours are 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM MST, and 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM MDT.

Frijole Ranch
Frijole Ranch is located 1 mile east of the Headquarters Visitor Center off U.S. Highway 62/180. Visitors are welcome to drive to the ranch site year-round, walk the grounds, see the spring house and one-room school, or enjoy a picnic under large shade trees. A small museum is located in the old ranch house, and is staffed intermittently with hours generally from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. The museum features key information and exhibits on local history.

Vehicle length at Frijole Ranch is limited to 21 feet due to small parking area.

McKittrick Canyon (Day-use)
The entrance road for McKittrick canyon is 7 miles east of the park's Headquarters Visitor Center on U.S. Highway 62/180. McKittrick Canyon is a day-use area; the entrance gate is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM (MST) and open until 6:00 PM during daylight savings time (MDT).

A small contact station is located in McKittrick Canyon at the trailhead, and is staffed intermittently. The contact station features handicap accessible restrooms, a shaded seating area, outdoor exhibits, and a slide program on McKittrick Canyon history, geology, and other natural resources.

Dog Canyon
Dog Canyon is open year-round, and is located on the north side of the park. Dog Canyon may be accessed via NM State Road 137, 70 miles from Carlsbad, NM or 110 miles from the park headquarters at Pine Springs. You may also reach Dog Canyon by exiting U.S. highway 62/180 22 miles south of the park on Texas FM road 1576 to NM State Road 137 (note: 31 miles of this route is a gravel/dirt road).

Dog Canyon has a small ranger station where visitors may obtain backcountry permits or information about the area. The ranger station is staffed intermittently, however a park ranger lives on premises. The phone number at Dog Canyon is: (505) 981-2418.

Williams Ranch (Day-use)
Visitors may access the 4X4 road to Williams Ranch by checking out a key at the Headquarters Visitor Center during normal business hours. Only high ground clearance 4X4 vehicles are allowed. Williams Ranch is designated day-use only; no overnight parking or camping is permitted. Gate keys must be returned to the Headquarters Visitor Center the same day.

Salt Basin Dunes (Day-use)
Recently acquired by the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the Salt Basin Dunes offer visitors the opportunity to travel to an area of austere beauty and isolation. Visitors may check out a gate key at the Headquarters Visitor Center during normal business hours. The distance to the dunes is nearly 50 miles one-way; 7.5 miles of which is on an unpaved county road. No overnight parking or camping is allowed. Gate keys must be returned to the Headquarters Visitor Center, or NPS contact station in Dell City, Texas the same day.

Directions

Getting There

By Car
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180. The driving distance is 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, or 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Visitors traveling to Dog Canyon, on the park's north side, can access the area via New Mexico State Road 137.

Plane
The closest large commercial airline service is El Paso, Texas. Other airlines serve Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lubbock and Midland, Texas and Mesa Airlines offers passenger service between Albuquerque and Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Public Transportation
There is no public transportation or shuttle service available in the park.

Getting Around

While the approach to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is scenic from any direction, there are no paved driving tours within the park. Park roads provide access to the Headquarters Visitor Center and Pine Springs Campground, the McKittrick Canyon Contact Station, Frijole Ranch, Williams Ranch (4X4 only), and trailheads.

Most visitors enjoy the park by hiking along one of over 80 miles of trails; trails range in difficulty from easy to strenuous. Many trails are rocky, often steep, and rugged. Trails lead to Guadalupe Peak, around the base of El Capitan, up into the high country, and into McKittrick Canyon. Self-guided nature trails are located at McKittrick Canyon (McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail), at the Headquarters Visitor Center (Pinery Trail), and at Dog Canyon (Indian Meadow Trail).

Guadalupe Rain

When is the rainy season?

Over half of the yearly precipitation falls in the months of July, August, and September. This seasonal rainfall is referred to as a monsoon. Typically, on a summer afternoon cumulus clouds start to build. Often, some of these will build high enough to develop into thunderstorms bringing lightning and rain. Many times these are isolated occurrences so that only a small area is affected. Scanning the horizon in late summer usually reveals one of these storms somewhere in the distance.

The rainfall is short lived and storms miles away may never reach the park. However, with its higher elevation, the mountains generate more storms than the surrounding lowlands. As warm air rises up the slopes, it cools and reaches its dew point, thus allowing clouds to form and precipitation to occur. Moisture for the region is derived from two large scale influences. A high pressure area over southeastern Colorado and the Panhandle of Texas circulates air in a clockwise motion. This motion draws humid air that has moved inland from the Gulf of Mexico. Low pressure over southern California rotates air in a counterclockwise motion, sending moist air from the Pacific Ocean into the Southwest.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

The stark contrasts between mountains and desert, vast and majestic vistas, brilliant fall colors set against muted desert hues, and sparkling white dunes all combine to offer opportunities for solitude, personal renewal, and inspiration. The beauty of the park is exceptional, but the park is also rugged and remote. Services within and near the park are extremely limited. Consider the park's location; plan your trip wisely and bring everything with you.

The Headquarters Visitor Center at Pine Springs is the best place to begin your visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Here you can pick up maps and brochures, view an informative, orientation slide show, enjoy remarkable interpretive exhibits, browse the bookstore for additional education sources, get a current weather forecast, and talk directly with knowledgeable staff at the information desk about your itinerary. Just outside the door is the Pinery Trail - a short, paved path that has scenic vistas, offers an introduction to the native plants, and leads to the historic ruins of the Butterfield Overland Mail stage station. If your kids are tired of traveling and itching for something to do, our Junior Ranger program is fun, educational, and generally takes less than an hour to complete!

Fees & Reservations

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee is $5.00 per person for adults 16 years of age and older. This fee is good for 7 days.

Fee envelopes are available at all trailheads or at the Headquarters Visitor Center. Fees may be paid by credit card at the visitor center. Fill out the appropriate information on the front of the white fee envelope, place cash or credit card receipt in the envelope, seal, and remove the detachable stub. Deposit the fee envelope at any trailhead collection safe, and display the detachable stub on the vehicle dashboard.

Please Note: Golden Eagle, Golden Age, Golden Access, and National Park Passes, or the new America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass cover entrance fees, however, please fill out an envelope and write the pass type and number in the space provided.

Entrance Passes

The following NPS/Federal Recreational Lands Passes are issued and accepted at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

  • Guadalupe Mountains Annual Pass
    $20 - Allows unlimited entry to Guadalupe Mountains National Park for one year from the month of purchase.
  • National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
    $80 - Allows unlimited entry to all federal recreational lands for one year from the month of purchase.
  • Senior Pass
    $10 - Lifetime pass to all federal entrance fee areas for US citizens 62 years of age or older.
  • Access Pass
    Free - Lifetime pass to all federal entrance fee areas for permanently disabled persons.
  • Volunteer Pass
    Free - Allows unlimited entry to all federal recreational lands for one year from the month of issue for volunteers who have acquired 500 service hours on a cumulative basis.

Fee Waivers

Entrance fee waivers are available to groups when the purpose of their visit is educational rather than recreational.

Camping Fees

Family Camping
When you arrive, select a campsite, then pay at the self-registration board near the restrooms, or fees may be paid by credit card at the Headquarters Visitor Center. The fee is $8.00 per night per site, $4.00 for Golden Age (Senior) and Golden Access Passport holders. There is no discount for Golden Eagle or National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass holders.

Camping for Organized Groups
There are two group campsites available at Pine Springs, and one at Dog Canyon for organized groups with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 people per site. The fee is $3.00 per person. The fee for Golden Age (Senior) and Golden Access Pass holders is $1.50 per person. Group campsites are available by reservation up to 60 days in advance. Call (915) 828-3251, between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM daily, Mountain Standard Time. Due to the small size of park campgrounds, group campsite users may not overflow into family campsites.