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Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a west Texas hidden gem that very few people visit which makes it perfect for escaping those national park crowds, especially this year.
It’s a park that isn’t very well-known but still deserves a spot on your national park bucket list because of all of it’s amazing hiking opportunities. Today I’m going to be sharing 7 awesome reasons Guadalupe Mountains National Park is worth visiting.
But first you have to get there and the best place to get there from is El Paso, just under two hours away. On your way to Guadalupe Mountains, you’ll want to fly in and out of El Paso and most likely spend a night there before heading to the park.
There are tons of places to stay in El Paso no matter what you’re looking for. The Hotel Indigo downtown is great for families, the Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park is perfect if you want luxury, the Palace Inn is budget-friendly and centrally located, the Hotel Paso Del Norte is luxury-for (a little) -less, Aloft is a hip family friendly option downtown, and finally, the Soluna Hotel is great for budget travelers.
If you do decide to travel right now, please do so safely and at your own risk. Wear a mask, wash and sanitize regularly, check any government regulations before going, and book accommodations with flexible cancellation policies, just in case.
It’s remote without being too remote
The park feels incredibly remote ad it’s pretty easy to hike to remote areas but it’s actually not that far from a town. Sure, El Paso is a bit of a drive (though it makes the best access point), Carlsbad, New Mexico is just 50 minutes away to the northeast.
It’s in a weird area that doesn’t have much of any development other than El Paso and Carlsbad. It’s not hard to get to but it doesn’t have any services nearby.
It’s one of the least visited national parks
As of 2019, it was the 15th least visited national park with just 188,833 visitors, which is pretty awesome. It’s a small park but you can easily avoid other people, especially if you get into the backcountry at all.
We just did a couple of short little hikes but still only saw a few other people and we were there in mid-March. Winter and spring will be the best time of year to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park because the summer gets so hot so keep that in mind while planning, especially if you’re hiking a lot.
There is tons of hiking
Whether you’re looking for short hikes, day hikes, or backpacking trips, you’ll be able to find something. There are at least three backpacking routes and quite a few day hikes, 80 miles worth, actually.
And, even better, there are five areas of the park you can hike in: McKittrick Canyon, Frijoles Ranch, West Side, Dog Canyon, and Pine Springs.
We just did the hike to, and a little past, Manzanita Spring and Frijoles Ranch and the nature trail in McKittrick Canyon. Next time I would love to do the Devils Hall Trail and at least part of something else in McKittrick Canyon. And see Dog Canyon. And the west side.
It’s easy to visit if you’re visiting Carlsbad Caverns nearby
Nothing beats being able to visit more than one national park on a road trip and being just 50 minutes from Carlsbad makes it super easy to visit both!
You could spend a day here then head over to Carlsbad the next day or stop here between El Paso and Carlsbad OR do a day trip to Guadalupe Mountains from Carlsbad. So many options!
It is home to the highest point in Texas
That’s right! Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas at 8,750 feet high. It’s a strenuous 8.5-mile round-trip hike with just under 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
If you’re going to do this hike, make sure you’re prepared for the difficulty and 6-8 hour hike time. The first 1.5 miles is the most difficult and steepest. There are backcountry campsites along the way if you want to do this as a backpacking trip instead.
You can see three different ecosystems in the park
While you’re in the park you can experience three different ecosystems! There is the Chihuahuan Desert which is where you can find salt flats, creosote bushes, and honey mesquite. This is on the west side of the park. On the lower elevation eastern side you get to see grassland, pinyon pines, and junipers.
The canyon interiors are home to bigtooth maples, velvet ash, chinkapin oaks, and other deciduous trees fed by springs. Then, above 7,000 feet is the alpine region with ponderosa, southwestern white, and Arizona pines, alligator junipers, and even quaking aspens.
It’s home to quite a bit of wildlife
While your chances of seeing some of this wildlife aren’t all that high since a lot of it is nocturnal but you never know! You’re most likely to see lizards and things like that but keep your eyes peeled for some of the other wildlife in Guadalupe Mountains:
- Kit fox
- Mountain lion
- Texas banded gecko
- 16 species of bats
- Mule deer
- Diamondback rattlesnake
- Chihuahuan spotted whiptail
- Rio Grande leopard frog
- Coachwhip snake
- Crevice spiny lizard
- Mountain patchnose snakes
Have you been to Guadalupe Mountains National Park? Do you think it’s worth visiting? Do you want to go?