Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Culberson County, Texas
|Two developed campgrounds are available in the park:|
Pine Springs (Elevation 5,822′)
Located just off U.S. Highway 62/180 near the Pine Springs Visitor Center, Pine Springs Campground is a simple, desert camping area situated at the base of the mountain. Individual campsites are all at a first come, first served basis. Campground conveniences include: potable water, accessible flush-toilet restrooms, utility sink, and pay telephones. There are no showers available in the campground.Tent campers have a choice of 20 leveled, gravel sites. Small junipers and oaks partially shade most of the sites and each site has a picnic table. Numbers are limited to 6 people or 2 tents per site.The RV camping area is a paved parking lot with 19 sites to choose from. RV sites are defined by painted lines and numbers on the pavement. There are no hook-ups and there is no dump station. RV water tanks can be filled from an outside water faucet near the registration board; no hose connection for fresh water tanks. RV campsite #21 is wheelchair accessible.
Dog Canyon (Elevation 6,280′)
Dog Canyon is in a secluded, forested canyon on the north side of the park. Due to a slightly higher elevation and protected location beneath steep cliff walls, it remains cooler than Pine Springs campground in the summer and sheltered from strong gusty winds in winter and spring. The campground has 9 tent sites and 4 RV sites (maximum length 23 feet, no hookups, no dump station). Restrooms have sinks and flush toilets, but no showers.
Skunks and other small mammals roam the campground at night. These animals are attracted to food odors. Prevent encounters by keeping campsites free of food scraps.Dispose of scraps and other garbage in trash receptacles.Store food, including pet food, in vehicles, not in tents.Please refrain from using faucets in the campground for dish washing or bathing. Wash dishes in the utility sink beside the restrooms.Discharge of dishwater or gray water on the ground is prohibited. Use the utility sinks for their disposal.The closest free RV dump station is off Canyon Street in Carlsbad, NM (behind the TNM&O bus terminal).
Pets on leash are permitted in the campground, but please abide by the following with regard to your pet’s welfare, the protection of park wildlife, and consideration of other park visitors:Leashed pets may be exercised on the trail between the campground and Pine Springs Visitor Center + the Pinery Trail at the Visitor Center. Pets are not allowed on other park trails because they may disturb park wildlife or be harmed themselves by wild animals. There are many rattlesnakes in the park, and park wildlife may carry plague or rabies. Do not allow your pet near animals or their dens or burrows.Please clean up after your pet.Pets may not be left unattended. The nearest kennel service (with limited hours) is at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Wood and charcoal fires are strictly prohibited due to generally dry weather conditions and intermittent high winds. Containerized fuel camp stoves are permitted.
Quiet hours are from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM. Generators may not be run during these hours.
Over 80 miles of hiking trails offer easy nature walks through desert flora; more moderate hikes follow canyons and reach riparian oases, and strenuous all day hikes can take you into high country forest or to the “Top of Texas”. Each is unique – the magic of Guadalupe Mountains National Park awaits you..
Devil’s Hall Trail
The Devil’s Hall Trail departs from the Pine Springs Trailhead and is 3.8 miles round-trip. After the first mile the trail enters a rocky wash which leads hikers to an impressive natural rock staircase leading to a “hallway” formed by steep canyon walls. Download the trail guide. Smith Spring Loop
The Smith Spring Trail is 2.3 miles (round-trip) and departs from the Frijole Ranch Trailhead. Watch the landscape change from desert scrub to riparian vegetation in this loop. Download the guide/map. McKittrick Canyon Trail
Hike through riparian vegetation and stream crossings to the historic Pratt Cabin or the scenic Grotto. McKittrick Canyon is a moderate hike that follows the bottom of the canyon and begins to climb after 3 miles, eventually connecting you to McKittrick Ridge. Download the guide/map.
Duration: 6-10 Hours
Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
Climb to the “Top of Texas” with a hike up Guadalupe Peak. Guadalupe Peak is a rewarding, although very strenuous, 8.5 mile round trip hike with a 3,000 foot elevation gain. It will take from six to eight hours to complete the hike. The peak provides fantastic views from the highest point in the state of Texas (8,751 feet / 2,667 meters). It also introduces hikers to several of the park’s ecosystems including the high desert and the high elevation forests
.Virtual Summit Log
When you reach a summit or other destination in the park, take a group photo or selfie in areas of the park and post to social media and include the hashtag #GuadalupeMountains #guadalupepeak #hunterpeak #lostpeak or others hashtags using your device and social media service
.Leave No Trace
Each of us plays a vital role in protecting our national parks. As we spend time outdoors, in the natural world and in wilderness, it’s important to be conscious of the effects our actions may have on plants, animals, other people, and even entire ecosystems. Following the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, summarized below, can help us minimize those impacts.
Day Hike Preparation
As with most activities, hikers face potential risks. Knowledge and preparation
can increase your comfort level
and reduce your chances of injury.
Remember, you are ultimately
responsible for your own safety.
|For those who enjoy a challenge, steep rugged, trails lead backpackers|
to high ridgetops with outstanding vistas.[NPS Photo – Martin Christiansen]
Planning Your Backpacking Trip
A backpacking trip in Guadalupe Mountains requires some prior planning and decision making. Backpackers can choose from 10 designated campsites in the backcountry and obtain a permit at either the Pine Springs or Dog Canyon visitors centers.
Backpacking Permit Checklist:
Plan your itinerary: Read about our backcountry campsites and pick your destination. Be realistic about elevation gains and water weight.
Download Planning Information:
Print or download the park map, mileage chart, and elevations chart to plan your trip. Always have a backup itinerary. It’s your responsibility to know and follow all wilderness camping regulations.
Prepare and Pack: Check out our page with suggestions on how to prepare for your trip. Don’t forget to check the weather to make sure that you pack appropriately. Still not sure about what route to take? Check out these ranger favorites!
Bush-Blue Ridge Loop: Head up the Tejas Trail and follow the loop in either direction. Can be done as a one night trip, or two nights at a leisurely pace. Download the trail guide here.
Tejas Trail hike-thru: Hike the entire Tejas trail from Pine Springs to Dog Canyon. Begin at either and and hike the 12 miles through the Guadalupe Mountains enjoying the forest and canyon views. Download the trail guide here.
**Note: There is no transportation from point to point. Hikers must prepare to have two vehicles or an alternate form of transportation.
Pine Springs to McKittrick Canyon: This hike will take you through the forested backcountry and take you down the steepest sections of the Guadalupe Mountains to drop into the beautiful McKittrick Canyon area. Download the guide here.
**Note: There is no transportation from point to point. Hikers must prepare to have two vehicles or an alternate form of transportation.
Climb to the “Top of Texas” with this hike that climbs 3,000 feet and travels through a conifer forest to reach a campground sitting at 8,160 feet. Set up camp and then continue hiking for one mile to reach the summit and be rewarded with amazing views to the West and to the South. Download the hiking guide here.
Last updated: January 20, 2021
400 Pine Canyon
Salt Flat, TX 79847
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
400 Pine Canyon Drive
Salt Flat, TX 79847-9400
Pine Springs Visitor Center
Dog Canyon Ranger Station
|Frijole Ranch proved an ideal location for early ranchers because of its proximity to springs. [NPS Photo]|
The Frijole Ranch – Pioneer Legacy of the Guadalupes
Artifacts reveal that the Frijole area has been a popular place of settlement for many centuries. This is not surprising when one considers that Pine, Juniper, Smith, Manzanita, and Frijole springs are all within a 2 mile radius of the Frijole Ranch History Museum. Mescal pits, petroglyphs, and artifacts discovered in nearby caves reflect early Native American occupation and dependency on the essential water, vegetation, cover, and game found in the vicinity.The first substantial, permanent structure at the site was built by the Rader brothers in 1876. These two bachelor brothers operated a small cattle ranch out of their sturdy rock home, which consisted only of the present front or south-facing living and dining rooms of the structure. The house was constructed 40 feet from Frijole Spring. It had double walls of native stone with a filler of mud between; interior walls were also plastered with mud. While the brothers were the first permanent settlers on this side of the mountain range, it appears they never filed a deed on the cattle ranch. They moved on by the late 1800s after which the Herring family took up ranching in the area.At the end of the Civil War, Major Calvin Herring moved his family from North Carolina westward into Texas where they ended up at the foot of Guadalupe Peak in what is now Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It was here that Major Herring’s daughter, Ida Herring, married George W. Wolcott in 1888. Wolcott family records indicate that the couple’s first home had two rooms, one of which was a dugout, and that this was the early structure at the Frijole Ranch site. Wolcott and his wife remained until 1895. George W. Wolcott then took his family to the Midland, Texas area where he went on to become a prominent rancher.In 1906, John Thomas Smith filed on the Frijole site as vacant land, referring to the house and property as the “Spring Hill Ranch” until 1912. Mr. Smith had moved from Wisconsin to Texas, where he married Nella May Carr in 1889, in Sherman, Texas. They were married for 63 years and had ten children. The Smiths made a living by truck farming and had a 15-acre orchard and garden east and north of the house. Over the years, apples, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, figs, pecans, blackberries, strawberries, currants, and some corn were grown; the springs providing more than adequate water for at least two plots. Periodically, the Smiths would load up their wagons in the evening, covering the fresh produce with wet paper and linen. They would then travel for two days to Van Horn (65 miles south) where they would sell the fruits of their labor. They also raised cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens.The Smith family greatly expanded the Frijole Ranch House in the 1920s. A rear kitchen and two bedrooms were added, as well as a second story and dormers . A gable roof with wood shakes eventually covered the house. The building in the northeast corner of the lot was first erected as a bunkhouse for hired help, but was later used as a guest house. Like the original home, that structure and the double toilet (a luxury) were constructed of stone masonry with shed roofs. A spring-house of wood and stone was also built for water protection and storage. The areas first hydraulic “Ram Jet Pump” was installed to pump water up the tower located in the front yard to a storage tank for domestic use. Because of its location and cool interior, the small stone building south of the spring-house was first used to store fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, and other perishables. Later, with the availability of electricity, a more sophisticated pump system was installed there. A barn and hay loft was also a necessity. Schooling their children was important to the Smith family.[NPS Photo]
The red schoolhouse was built with vertical wood siding and a low pitched roof covered with corrugated tin. Up to eight children from the Smith family and local ranches once attended school there. The Smiths provided room, board, and a horse, in addition to a $30.00 per month salary for the teacher. Later, the schoolhouse served as a storage shed and bunkhouse. Frijole Ranch House has seen many changes in lighting since its construction in 1876. Originally lit with tallow candles and kerosene lanterns, the Smiths installed a carbide lamp system, which produced acetylene gas that was piped through the house. This advance was followed by battery-powered lights charged with a wind generator. Today, of course, the house is lit with electricity, perhaps waiting for yet another technological advance.As the only major building complex in the region for several decades, Frijole Ranch served as a community center for dances and other social gatherings, as well as the regions official post office, from 1916 to 1942. Although not built until 1950, the present barn complements the other buildings and is of wood frame construction. Today park livestock use the barn. A stone masonry wall encloses most of the Frijole complex.In 1942, after 36 years, John Smith sold the Frijole Ranch house and associated property to Judge J.C. Hunter for the price of $55,000. He then moved with his family to Hawley, Texas, near Abilene.Jesse Coleman (J.C.) Hunter first moved to Van Horn, Texas in 1911, to serve as Superintendent of Schools. J.C. Hunter also served as Director and Vice President of the Van Horn State Bank, was a Culberson County Judge and Treasurer, was successful in the oil and gas business, and he was a rancher. J.C. Hunter began buying land in the Guadalupe Mountains in 1923 and by the 1940s he owned 43,000 acres, including John Smith’s Frijole Ranch. His “Guadalupe Mountains Ranch” concentrated on raising Angora goats, sheep, cattle, and horses. At one time, 22 tons of mohair wool were produced annually by 4000 Angora goats. The mountain high country was used as summer range for livestock; water pumped from lowland springs by pipeline to metal storage tanks on top was crucial to its survival. The Frijole Ranch house served as ranch headquarters for J.C. Hunter’s foreman, Noel Kincaid and his family from 1942 to 1969.Hunter was an early conservationist and initiated the first attempts to make the region a park in 1925. The idea failed to gain momentum and was dropped. Because Hunter continued to hope for a park in the future, he permitted only limited hunting on the ranch and allowed no grazing in McKittrick Canyon. Under his stewardship, elk, turkey, and rainbow trout were returned, or introduced, to the Guadalupe Mountains ecosystem.In 1945, J.C. Hunter’s son, J.C. Hunter, Junior, inherited the ranch. Although mayor of Abilene and a successful oil man, Mr. Hunter took an active interest in his lands in the Guadalupe Mountains. By 1965 he had purchased additional lands and the Guadalupe Mountain Ranch totaled 67,312 acres. In 1966, he fulfilled his father’s dream and sold the ranch to the National Park Service, at the bargain price of $1.5 million, or about $22 per acre.From 1969 to 1980, the ranch house served as a ranger residence. During the next three years, rehabilitation and renovation of the Frijole Ranch buildings was completed by the National Park Service. Park staff used the ranch house as an operations office from 1983 until 1991. In 1992, the Frijole Ranch House was again renovated and finally opened to the public as a history museum.Today’s Frijole Ranch Cultural Museum is on the National Register of Historic Sites. The National Park Service will continue to preserve Frijole Ranch so that future generations may come to appreciate our diverse heritage.
|At Guadalupe Mountains, opportunities for pets are limited:|
Leashed pets are permitted in Guadalupe Mountains National Park only in areas accessed by vehicles, including established roadsides, parking areas, developed picnic areas and campgrounds.Leashed pets may walk on the short Pine Springs Campground connector trail or along the Pinery Trail from the visitor center to the Butterfield Stage Station.
Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet and attended at all times.
Federal regulations require all pet excrement to be picked up and disposed of in a marked trash receptacle.
At Guadalupe Mountains, pets are prohibited:
in park buildings
at public programs
in the backcountry
on ALL park trails except the Pinery Trail and the Pine Springs Campground connector trail.
Pets allowed on less than a miles of trails park-wide.[NPS Photo]
Why Can’t I Hike With My Dog or Cat?
Dogs and cats are considered to be unnatural predators in a natural environment
Pets may harass and even kill wildlife, carry disease and disrupt the habitats of native species in the park
Pets could become prey for larger carnivores like mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, coyote packs or many other desert animals which could pose a threat to your pet
Many Chihuahuan desert plants are spiny or poisonous and can easily injure a pet
Pets can bite visitors or intrude on the visitor experience anticipated in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Other Park Pet Rules
Do not leave pets unattended at campsites, tied to an object in the park, or in vehicles for prolonged periods of time. Interior vehicle temperatures can rise within minutes and pets can quickly overheat and die, even with the windows cracked. The nearest kennel service (with limited hours) is at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Some adjacent US Forest Service lands do allow leashed pets on trails and in dispersed areas. Contact them directly for details and specific locations.
Service Animals as defined by titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act are excepted and are permitted in park buildings, restrooms, at public programs, and in the backcountry; service animals that have been individually trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities are allowed in the park.
Emotional support (“therapy animals”) are not service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act and may not access trails or other non-motorized areas.
Hiking in the desert requires
some planning ahead of time to ensure a safe and successful hike. Make sure to always:
– Carry plenty of water. There is no water available in the front or backcountry. Make sure to carry at least one gallon per person, per day.
– Dress appropriately. Wear sunscreen, hats, long sleeve shirts and long pants.
– Hike during appropriate times. Make sure to start early in the day to avoid the mid-day summer heat.
– Know the signs of heat-related illnesses: dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Trails in the Guadalupe Mountains vary in difficulty and require some form of preparation.
– Carry a map and compass/gps. Make sure that you know how to use them.
– Always let someone know your plans. Make sure they know where you are going and when you will return.
– Carry a pack with appropriate gear: water, flashlight, map, etc.
Weather in the mountains cam be unpredictable. Make sure to check the weather before leaving for your hike. Summer days can bring high temperatures and beware of quickly oncoming thunderstorms. If you see lightning, move quickly to a safe place. Avoid hilltops, ridges, and flat open areas.
The Pine Springs visitors’ center, Frijole Ranch picnic area and Dog Canyon campground are open 24 hours a day.
McKittrick Canyon is designated as day-use only, with visiting hours from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM, April through October (Mountain Daylight Time), and 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, November through March (Mountain Standard Time). Please exit McKittrick Canyon before the posted closing time. The entrance gate on U.S.Highway 62/180 is locked each evening.
Located on the remote west side of the park, the Salt Basin Dunes cover nearly 2,000 acres. The Salt Basin Dunes are designated day use only and are accessible for visitation beginning at sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Camping is specifically prohibited. The surface of the access road is clay. During rainy weather, the road becomes dangerously slippery; it is unsafe to travel when wet. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour. Watch for livestock on the roadway.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180. The driving distance is 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico or 62 miles north of Van Horn on Texas Highway 54.
Visitors traveling to Dog Canyon, on the park’s north side, can access the area via US Highway 285 (Artesia Highway) and New Mexico Highway 137 from north of Carlsbad or from US Highway 62/180 (National Parks Highway), Eddy County Highway 408 (Dark Canyon Road) and New Mexico Highway 137 from south of Carlsbad.
The closest large commercial airline service is El Paso, Texas. Other airlines serve Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lubbock and Midland, Texas and Mesa Airlines offers passenger service between Albuquerque and Carlsbad, New Mexico.
There is no public transportation or shuttle service available in the park.
While the approach to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is scenic from any direction, there are no paved driving tours within the park. Park roads provide access to the Pine Springs Visitor Center and Pine Springs Campground, the McKittrick Canyon Contact Station, Frijole Ranch, Williams Ranch (4X4 only), Salt Basin Dunes day use area, and trailheads. Most visitors enjoy the park by hiking along one of over 80 miles of trails; trails range in difficulty from easy to strenuous. Many trails are rocky, often steep, and rugged. Trails lead to Guadalupe Peak, around the base of El Capitan, up into the high country, and into McKittrick Canyon. Self-guided nature trails are located at McKittrick Canyon (McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail), at the Headquarters Visitor Center (Pinery Trail), and at Dog Canyon (Indian Meadow Trail).
400 Pine Canyon
Salt Flat, TX 79847