Planning your Guadalupe Mountains National Park Vacation
Located in the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas and surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert, the park is the location of Signal Peak which, at 8,749 feet above sea level, is the highest natural point in the state. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is renowned for its wildlife-rich grassland, fossilized reef mountains and Salt Basin Dunes.
Must-Do Hikes in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Over 80 miles of trails provide leisurely walks across the desert landscape all of which are accessible when you stay at Guadalupe Mountains National Park cabins. These include a few moderate hikes which pass canyons and riparian oases and challenging all day treks to the high country forest.
This moderate trail starts from Pine Springs Canyon and is a 4.2 mile round-trip. The path leads hikers up a dramatic natural rock staircase, via Ponderosa pine, maples and the diverse landscapes of the Chihuahuan desert.
This 2.3 mile round-trip trail begins at the Frijole Ranch Trailhead. Experience the magical landscape, from desert floor to riparian habitat. Catch sight of mule deer, birds and waterfalls as you walk along this trail.
This 0.9 mile round trip trail takes less than an hour to complete. Hike through stream crossings to the scenic grotto and the historic Pratt Cabin. McKittrick Canyon eventually leads visitors to McKittrick Ridge.
This steep 8.5-mile round-trip hike takes you to the Top of Texas (8,751 feet) and passes through the beautiful coniferous forest. This strenuous hike offers breathtaking views of the park. The round trip takes 6-8 hours.
Best Outdoor Adventures in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The Guadalupe Mountains are often referred as an island in the desert. As an old limestone reef, it rises over 5,000 feet above the surrounding desert floor. This unique landscape features rocky canyons, lush woodlands and mountaintop forests of Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. If you book one of the hotels near Guadalupe Mountains National Park, you can enjoy all of the recreational activities the park has to offer. Some of the favorite outdoor activities in the park include hiking, backpacking and horseback riding.
Hiking in this National Park can be an exciting and rewarding experience as it is the perfect way to explore the park. There are over 80 miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. Trailheads are rocky, mostly steep and rugged. The Guadalupe Peak is the tallest peak in Texas at 8,749 feet. If you are able to hike up the strenuous 8.4-mile trail, the views from the top are incredible.
For those who love outdoor adventure, steep and rugged trails will lead them to the top of ridges with outstanding views. Backpackers can choose from 10 designated campsites on the Tejas Trail and get a permit at either the Dog Canyon or Pine Springs Visitors Centers. Hike the entire Tejas trail starting from Pine Springs to Dog Canyon to enjoy the scenic views of forest and canyon.
The park offers variety of riding opportunities. Over 50 percent of the trails are available for horseback riding. Horses and other animals are not available for hire near the park and visitors must bring their own horses. All rides need thorough preparation.
Best Family Activities in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Historic McKittrick Canyon offers many sites to explore and moderate hiking trails are ideal for families. Stay at Guadalupe Mountains National Park cabins to enjoy fabulous views of the charming landscape.
Williams Ranch is worth the drive along the deserts and canyons where wildlife viewing is abundant. Kids will have a great time as they spot numerous lizards, jackrabbits, roadrunners and coyotes. At the ranch visitors can walk the El Capitan Trail. Visitors require a gate key to tour the area from the visitor’s center.
Situated at the tip of the wilderness boundary, Dog Canyon offers a peaceful place for camping, hiking and birding. While pleasant enough for a day out, Dog Canyon is perfect for camping. Nearby nature trails provide plenty to explore. One of the most exciting activities of wilderness camping in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is stargazing as you can spot over 10,000 stars from the Milky Way from this location.
In addition to primitive campsites for backpackers, the Park provides family campsites for RVs and tents at Pine Springs and Dog Canyon. Both campgrounds have restroom facilities, drinking water and picnic tables in a tranquil setting amidst the Guadalupe Mountains.
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