Where is Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park resides within the Guadalupe Mountain range in western Texas. The national park contains a variety of hiking trails, a visitor center, and a campground suited for tent camping. Popular points of interest located within the national park include Guadalupe Peak, McKittrick Canyon, and the Wallace Pratt Lodge. The closest city to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is Dell City, Texas. The national park is located 115 miles (hour and forty-five-minute drive) west of El Paso, Texas. The Park is 336 miles (five hours drive) south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Most visitors of Guadalupe Mountains National Park also decide to visit nearby Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The two national parks are both located within the Guadalupe Mountain range and are separated by only a distance of 36 miles.
How Large is Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains US National Park covers a total of more than 86,000 acres. The national park contains three distinct ecosystems. These ecosystems are represented by the Chihuahuan Desert, the various canyons found across the park, and the park’s alpine areas. Each of these three ecosystems contain very different sets of vegetation ranging from small shrubs in cactuses to alpine trees such as ponderosa pines and alligator junipers. Guadalupe Mountains National Park also contains Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the state of Texas. The peak sits at an elevation of 8,749 feet above sea level. One of the more popular trails in the park, the climb to Guadalupe Peak offers visitors a strenuous climb throughout the park’s three ecosystems.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park Weather
According to the Koppen Climate System, Guadalupe Mountains National Park possesses a cold desert climate. This climate is characterized by relative warm summers and cold to freezing winters. Guadalupe Mountains National Park consistently sees daily summer temperatures between 70- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit, and daily winter temperatures between 50- and 20-degrees Fahrenheit. After nightfall, temperatures in the desert begin to cool considerably. The park is also often the location of sudden afternoon thunderstorms that form among the Guadalupe Mountains during the summer. Visitors camping in the park should prepare for the park’s nightly temperatures and the possibility of daily thunderstorms or rain showers.
When did Guadalupe Mountains Become a National Park
The history of Guadalupe Mountains National Park includes native American influence, a stint as the headquarters of the Butterfield Overland Mail, and the purchase of Wallace Pratt. Pratt worked as a geologist for the Humble Oil and Refining Company, and purchased the land now contained within the park as he was impressed by the beauty of McKittrick Canyon. In 1972, Pratt formerly donated over 6,000 acres of land to the Texas state government for the creation of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The park was created to protect the natural beauty of the Guadalupe Mountains region and the flora and fauna that reside within this region.
Things to do in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountain National Park offers visitors opportunities to recreate throughout the desert, canyons, and alpine regions of the surrounding area. The most popular adventures found throughout Guadalupe Mountains National Park are listed and discussed below.
Walk the Pinery Nature Trail
Our National Park Visitors Guide suggests The Pinery Nature Trail at Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the perfect place for visitors to start their adventure. The trail meanders across a level path near the park’s visitor center. This trail contains a variety of placards that introduce visitors to the variety of vegetation present throughout the national park. The trail also guides visitors to the ruins of the old Pinery Station that was used as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route.
Hike to Guadalupe Peak
Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in the state of Texas and sits at a height of 8,749 feet above sea level. The Guadalupe Peak Trail is the most popular trail contained within Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The trail starts at a trailhead near the park’s campground and meanders throughout the park’s desert environment before rising quickly across one of the park’s canyon walls. The trail is 8.4 miles long, rated as strenuous, and involves an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. Visitors should avoid the peak during high winds and afternoon thunderstorms.
Wildlife Viewing in the Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park contains a population of a variety of avian and other wildlife species. Mammalian species that can be potentially spotted throughout the park include elk, javelinas, gray foxes, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and mule deer. Birds found throughout the park include great horned owls, chickadees, sparrows, barn owls, woodpeckers, turkey vultures, and greater roadrunners. More information regarding wildlife sightings in the park can be obtained from the park’s visitor center.
Stargazing in the National Park
On a clear night in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, visitors camping in the park can see more than 10,000 stars with their naked eye. The Milky Way and several planets are also often seen through the park’s night sky. Due to the park’s isolated location, light pollution from major cities is at a minimum in the park. This absence of light makes Guadalupe Mountains National Park the perfect place for stargazing.
Camping in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The campground at Guadalupe Mountains National Park operates on a first come, first serve basis. The campground mostly contains sites that will require campers to complete a short walk. These sites are only suited for tent campers. However, a large parking lot near the campground contains various spots where recreational vehicles can park and stay overnight. Tent sights in the park’s campground contain picnic tables, fire pits, and gravel tent pads. Visitors will also find an amphitheater, and restrooms located near the campground.
When to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Visitors looking to plan a trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park can do so throughout the entire year. However, the majority of the park’s visitation occurs during the summer. The season is the best time of the year for visitors to camp within the national park. The season’s temperatures are also more conducive to outdoor recreation. Therefore, hikers, stargazers, and wildlife enthusiasts will also enjoy a summer trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Must Have Items to Bring to Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park due to its isolated location requires visitors to bring all of the supplies they will need during their trip with them to the national park. The following lists include several essential items List of Parks advises visitors won't want to forget to pack before leaving for the park.
Water, Snacks & Meals
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is isolated away from restaurants or grocery stores. Visitors should bring all of the water, snacks, and meals they need during their trip to the park with them. Campers staying overnight in the park should also bring a way to prepare these meals. Portable stoves are a popular choice among campers and backpackers. Visitors should look to bring high energy snacks that can provide a boost after a long day or long hike with them to the park. Beef jerky, protein bars, and trail mix are popular choices.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
All visitors should arrive at Guadalupe Mountains National Park wearing a sturdy pair of hiking boots. These boots will come in handy as visitors traverse the multiple trails found within the park and hike to the highest point in Texas. Visitors should also opt to purchase a lightweight and waterproof pair of hiking boots for added comfort and protection.
Wildlife Field Guides
Visitors interested in the variety of wildlife found throughout Guadalupe Mountains National Park should look to purchase a wildlife field that is specific to the national park or eastern Texas region. The best field guides contain color photos and species descriptions that make identification easy. Visitors can also purchase field guides tailored towards avian and vegetation species identification.
The easiest way to ensure you arrive at Guadalupe Mountains National Park with all of the necessary camping equipment you will need during your stay is to create and utilize a camping checklist. These checklists can be used during initial packing and once more before leaving for the park.
Layers of Clothing
The temperatures of Guadalupe Mountains National Park vary significantly over the course of the day. Visitors will also find vast differences between temperatures in the canyon and in the park’s alpine environments. Campers and visitors expecting to spend extended time in the park should bring a variety of layers of clothing with them to the park to ensure their comfort and protection.
Where to Stay in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Visitors looking to stay within the borders of Guadalupe Mountains National Park will want to arrive at the park early in the day to reserve a campsite. All campsites are reserved on a first come, first serve basis. Payment for the campsite is done through a self-operating payment stand found near the campground. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel or other lodging establishment will find a small selection of options in Dell City. However, additional options can be found closer to Carlsbad Caverns National Park or El Paso, Texas.
Food Near Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The closest food to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in Dell City. The city contains a few restaurants and convenience stores where visitors can obtain warm meals and various supplies. Visitors looking for more options or something specific will need to make the drive towards El Paso, Texas or Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Airports Near Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The closest international airport to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in El Paso, Texas. The El Paso International Airport is located 104 miles and an hour and forty-five minutes west of the park. The next closest international airports to Guadalupe Mountains National Park are located some distance away in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Phoenix, Arizona, and in San Antonio, Texas.