Guadalupe Mountains National Park, established on September 30, 1972, is located in Western Texas, near Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in the southern United States. The $5 admission fee grants you 7-day access to over 86,000 acres of varying landscapes and wildlife. Nearly 160,000 visitors make their way to Guadalupe Mountains NP each year.
Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of Guadalupe Mountains NP, is the mountains for which it is named. These mountains are world-renowned as the earth’s premier example of an ancient marine reef. Scientists from all over the planet come to study the park’s mountains. The foundations of the mountains were formed underneath an ancient sea, by sponges, algae and other lime-producing organisms. Now, they rise up from the desert. They’re a must-see.
Guadalupe Peak, in particular, is special. With an elevation of 8,751 feet, it is not only the highest point in the park, but it is also the highest point in the state of Texas.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is pretty remote, so there are less shows, performances, and group activities than you might find at other National Parks. Luckily, the geography here creates plenty of entertainment on its own.
• Backcountry camping – if you like getting out into the wilderness, then the remoteness of this park will be especially appealing to you. You’ll have a good time as long as you pack plenty of water or find your way to one of the park’s springs. Stargazing is a great way to pass the night.
• Wildlife viewing – despite the desert conditions and rugged terrain, Guadalupe Mountains NP hosts a lot of wildlife, including mule deer, elk (in the winter), coyotes, jackrabbits, collared lizards, rock squirrels, grey fox, over 90 kinds of butterflies, and rarely seen mountain lions and javalinas. Bring your binoculars.
• Hiking – with over 80 miles of trails across diverse habitats, up rocky mountains, and through stunning canyons, Guadalupe Mountains NP is a great place to go for a walk.
If you’re ready to stretch your imagination, find your way to the Williams Ranch. Accessible only by foot or with the assistance of a 4x4 vehicle, Williams Ranch is a lone, abandoned ranch house at the base of a 3000 foot cliff formed by the oldest rocks in the Guadalupe Mountains.
The Salt Basin Dunes are located at some of the lowest elevations in the park. Though they can be hot, are home to some venomous snakes, and do not offer much shade cover, the dunes are a fun adventure. From three to sixty feet high, the dunes are inhospitable, but worth viewing.
You must enter the park from Highway 62/180. It is located 110 miles to the east of El Paso and about 50 miles southwest of Carlsbad. It’s a little desolate out there, so be sure to pack a spare tire, just in case.