How to Visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park Like a Pro

If you’re driving through Texas, you might stop at popular destinations like Houston, San Antonio or Dallas.

Maybe you’ll watch a rodeo, eat authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, or attend a sporting event. But Guadalupe Mountains National Park probably isn’t on your list of destinations.

You may never have heard of this remote national park in west Texas. But it’s worth a visit!

Learn more about this rugged wilderness here so you can plan your trip.

Where is Guadalupe Mountains National Park located?

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the more remote national parks in the lower 48 states.

It is located north of Highway 180 in west Texas, bordering the New Mexico-Texas border. El Paso is less than two hours west and Carlsbad Caverns National Park is less than an hour northeast.

It has three visitor centers through which you can enter the park. The Dell City Contact Station is on the west side and the McKittrick Canyon Contact Station is on the northeast side.

And the Pine Springs Headquarters and Visitor Center is located just off Highway 180 in the southern part of the park.

About Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park encompasses 86,416 acres. It protects the four highest peaks in Texas and the world’s largest Permian fossil reef. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the Lonestar State, rises 8,751 feet above sea level.

But you won’t just see mountains here. In this part of Texas, you can also explore canyons, dunes and deserts. The rugged wilderness is fun for many people who hike and backpack here.

How much does a trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park cost?

As in other national parks, you can visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park for free with an annual pass.

These passes include the America the Beautiful Pass, Fourth Grade Pass, Senior Pass, Military Pass, and other interagency passes.

If you do not have an annual pass, you will pay an entrance fee of $10 per person (ages 16 and older). This fee allows you to use the park for up to seven consecutive days.

So if you visit the park two or three days in a week, you only have to pay admission once.

When is the best time to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park?

The windy season runs from November through March. This means you can experience wind speeds of over 45 miles per hour and dangerous gusts of 50 to 80 miles per hour.

Although you’ll escape the summer heat during these months, expect windy conditions that can affect hiking, camping and driving. It’s important to know that wind speeds increase with altitude.

Throughout the year, temperatures range from 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in January to 60 to 90 degrees in July. The rainy season lasts from May to September, with some flash floods.

Spring and fall are the busiest, so campgrounds and hiking trails can be crowded. However, these seasons also have the mildest temperatures.

View of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The best thing to do in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

When you decide to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park, you’re heading to remote West Texas.

It is more of a wilderness area without many accommodations and amenities. But within the national park, you can spend hours exploring.

Visit the museum at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

The Pine Springs Visitor Center also serves as the park’s headquarters. Here visitors can pay admission, store at the park store, obtain brochures and maps, and obtain wilderness permits.

It is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. year-round. Children can also pick up their Junior Ranger packets here, which they must complete to receive a badge.

The museum features historical exhibits that detail what we know about early hunter-gatherers in the area.

People have inhabited this region for 10,000 years, and you can learn more about the people and places of Guadalupe Mountains National Park on a tour of the museum at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

Please note: If you’re in Texas, you can’t miss the Blue Lagoon!

Hike up Guadalupe Peak

If you’re looking for a strenuous hike to the top of Texas, the hike to Guadalupe Peak is for you. This 8.4-mile hike (round trip) covers 3,000 feet and takes 6 to 8 hours to complete.

At 8,751 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and desert. It is advisable to bring trekking poles as much of the trail consists of steep, rocky terrain.

View of Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Drive to the Salt Basin Dunes

If you want to bypass the hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak, drive to the Salt Basin Dunes. These white gypsum sand dunes rise 100 feet from the desert floor and contrast with the dark mountains.

Once you get there, you can hike anywhere in the dunes. Just avoid stepping on plants. It is important to know that temperatures in this part of the desert rise sharply in the summer.

Spend the night at Pine Springs Campground

Starry night skies are one of the most beautiful things about Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Book an overnight stay at Pine Springs Campground, which has 20 tent sites and 13 RV sites, and enjoy stargazing.

There are no hookups, hardly any cell phone reception, and no dump station. But there is access to drinking water. Tent sites and RV sites cost $20 per night.

Explore Frijole Ranch

At Frijole Ranch, you can also visit another museum where you can learn more about the people and life in this region.

Here you can learn more about the history of Native Americans and early ranchers, as well as how the park became part of the National Park.

The ranch is no longer farmed today, but you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time and experienced the rugged American West. The museum, located 1.5 miles northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center, is open seasonally, but the grounds are always open to visitors.

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Are there any other national parks near Guadalupe Mountains?

From the Pine Springs Visitor Center in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, you can reach the Visitor Center in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in about 45 minutes.

Head northeast on Highway 62/180 and cross the border into New Mexico. Many people visit these two national parks on the same trip because of their remote location.

Is Guadalupe Mountains National Park worth a visit?

Guadalupe Mountains National Park does not have many activities or ranger-led tours. It is a park for nature lovers who enjoy bird watching, hiking and exploring the backcountry.

But it is a beautiful part of the country with towering peaks and desert sand dunes. Here you can explore massive cliffs and barren desert landscapes and observe more than 1,000 plant species.

So if you want to visit a rugged wilderness where thousands of fossils can be found, put Guadalupe Mountains National Park on your list.

Have you ever been to this part of Texas and New Mexico?

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