Due to our tight schedule, we only had one day in Guadalupe Mountains National Park which is a terrible shame. Although not very large as far as National Parks go, this park begs to be explored. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is quiet, secluded and absolutely beautiful and with over 80 miles of trails, I would have loved to spend a lot longer here. In fact, I’m already planning when we can go back. In addition to our time constraints, the weather was lousy and it rained the entire day during our visit so we were further limited in what we could do. Yet we still really enjoyed the short time we did have to explore Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Located in West Texas just south of the New Mexico border, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to an ancient fossil reef. Millions of years ago during the Permian period, the area was under an ocean and over time a large reef was formed. As the ocean evaporated, the reef was buried for millions of years under layers of sediment. Areas of the large reef were later exposed due to geological movement. The exposed fossilized reef is home to countless plant and animal fossils and scientists come from all over the world to study the unique geological formation and the biological residual it holds.
In addition to fascinating geology, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an amazing wilderness area. With multiple ecosystems, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to a large diversity of wildlife, including black bear, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, javelina, and jack rabbit. And multiple reptile species live there too including the diamondback rattlesnake and the collared lizard as well as tarantulas, scorpions and centipedes. Wildlife is abundant in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
And the scenery in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is amazing too. Even on the short trails we hiked, we were enamored with the gorgeous views. The desert plants framed with tall mountain views are vistas you can only see in this part of the country and they are stunning. If planning another trip, I would arrange to spend several days at least here either camping in one of the campgrounds or taking a backcountry hike into the wilderness. It really is that beautiful.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park – If You Go:
The entrance fee to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is $5 for each visitor over the age of 16 and is good for 7 days. We used our America the Beautiful National Park pass to enter so we did not need to pay the fee. Click HERE to read about other ways you can visit the National Parks for Free!
Start your visit at the Pine Springs Visitor Center where you can pick up permits, maps and brochures to help plan your visit. As always the Park Rangers were awesome and helped us plan the best itinerary for our short time in the park.
Do the Junior Ranger Program! The activities are fun and always teach us about the National Park we are visiting. Plus the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Pin you earn is a neat little free souvenir!
There is no food for sale inside the park, so make sure to bring a picnic with you when you visit.
There are two established campgrounds within the park- Pine Springs and Dog Canyon. While there are bathrooms with running water at both campgrounds, the pretty sites are primitive with no hookups. Campsites are first come, first served so plan accordingly.
There are 10 backcountry campgrounds in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Click HERE for more information about the various backcountry campgrounds. While there is no backcountry permit fee, the free Backcountry Use Permit must be obtained in person either the day of or the day before your planned hike at either the Pine Springs Visitor Center or the Dog Canyon Ranger Station. Click HERE for more information about getting backcountry permits.
Only 30 minutes or so away from Guadalupe Mountains National Park is Carlsbad Caverns National Park so a combined trip is very convenient. Staying at the Carlsbad KOA nearby, we were able to explore and enjoy both National Parks.
If planning on hiking during your visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, National Geographic’s Guadalupe Mountains National Park Trail Map would be helpful as would Falcon Guide’s Hiking Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. I also enjoyed Nevada Barr’s mystery Track of the Cat, which is a fun easy read featuring a fictional Park Ranger Anna Pigeon and takes place in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I generally enjoy this series (of which there are 18 novels) when on a trip to the parks they take place in.
Have you been to Guadalupe Mountains National Park? I’d love to hear about your visit!