Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The majestic and rugged Guadalupe Mountains were established as a national park in 1972. Compared to the large and popular national parks like Glacier or Yosemite, Guadalupe Mountains seems small. However, because this area is untraveled compared to the larger, more popular parks, this land is more rugged and beautiful!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park also holds Texas’s highest peak, which stands at 8,751 feet above sea level. Hiking here, you will find wildlife galore, including bear and mountain lions. In fact, as Zak and I were driving through the park, we saw a wild cat cross the road! A bobcat, maybe? The beautiful hikes in this mountain range will show you the Texas hills for miles and miles.

The Guadalupe Mountains also have an exciting history filled with people who were willing to brave these harsh lands to live and travel through the west. This area was inhabited by the Mescalero Apaches and traveled by the Buffalo Soldiers (who often fought with the Mescalero Apaches). Eventually, even the Butterfield Overland stage route passed through this area. Granted, this was only for a short time as the area was too harsh and rugged for stage coaches to pass through with mail and passengers. Settlers and pioneers came through this area too, and there are two ranches in the park that still remain!

Fallon looking out over the Texas Hills from the Guadalupe Mountains

Who Should Travel To Guadalupe Mountains?

The Guadalupe Mountains, admittedly, have a lot more than Zak and I decided to explore in the day that we visited. We only hiked Guadalupe Peak, but there were many other hikes and cultural sites as well.

Overall, Guadalupe Mountains National Park could be great for either a long, rugged, and adventurous trip throughout the entirety of the park, or you could stay on the Pine Springs side. This option would offer a break with some great hikes thrown in. When Zak and I visited Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we stayed one day at the park, hiked Guadalupe Peak, and then headed over to Carlsbad Caverns. (In fact, this seemed to be what a lot of people were doing!)

Also, if you love history, the Guadalupe Mountains will be a great place for you as well! However, if you are coming to from a low-altitude place, please make sure to sleep a night or two near the park to become more acclimated to the altitude. On our way up the mountain, we saw a father and son who had a bit of altitude sickness! No fun! Acclimate, drink lots of water, and eat healthy!

A photo of El Capitan from Guadalupe Peak. You can see the front side of the beauty while driving into Guadalupe Mountains National Park!


Guadalupe Peak

Although the signs said that the hike up to Guadalupe Peak was about 8.5 miles round trip, both mine and Zak’s fitness watches logged closer to 9.5 miles. Overall, this hike was stunning! As you go up you can see into the canyons below and look up at the beautiful mountains all around you. You also get a beautiful view of El Capitan as you get to the last half mile or so of the hike.

This hike took Zak and I about 5 hours to complete total, but we suggest planning on about 6.5-7… We were really humming because we wanted to get back to our Auggie! We were so happy to have done this hike in the winter, because even though on the North side of the mountain there was quite a lot of snow on the trails, it was incredibly cool and comfortable. In fact, we couldn’t imagine hiking such a long hike in the heat of a Texas summer! The first mile to mile and a half of the hike had a lot of steps and was relatively steep, but after that, it was all switchbacks going up!

Please make sure that you bring layers, enough water, snacks, and pack out what you bring in! On our way down the mountain, we noticed that someone had pooped RIGHT in the middle of the trail and left their TP on the trail too! Yuck! We also noticed a lot of orange peels on the way up. While fruit peels are biodegradable, they actually take much longer to degrade in the wild, and also often attract animals. If animals, like bears, become too curious or come out on the trail near people too often, rangers can tranquilize and move the bears (potentially away from their habitat and family) or can even kill them. So please, Leave No Trace!

Zak and Fallon on Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Frijole Ranch Cultural Museum

Originally built in 1876, this Ranch house was home to multiple families over the years, and even has a one room school house on the grounds. However, before the house that stands there today was built, artifacts have been found around the area that have shown that others had built homes here as well. Today, no one lives in the house, but it has been restored to its former glory and now holds the chronological human history of the Guadalupe Mountains. The museum is open seasonally, but the grounds are open year round. With picnic tables and lots of shade, this would be a lovely place for a picnic!

Williams Ranch

Usually there is a road that would bring you back to the Williams Ranch, but due to extensive rain in 2021, the road is closed, and the Williams Ranch can now only be accessed by hikers on the El Capitan trail. Originally built by the Belcher family in 1908, the Williams Ranch eventually came to be settled by Dolph Williams and Geronimo Segura who were ranchers of cattle, sheep, and goats. JC Hunter was the next owner of this area, who passed it down to his son, JC Hunter Junior. JC Hunter Junior eventually sold all of the land to the Department of the Interior so that it could be made into Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

McKittrick Canyon Trail

The McKittrick Canyon Trail in the Guadalupe Mountains offers many different activities in one. On this hike, you can see the Pratt Cabin, the Grotto, and the Hunter Line Shack, part of a 1920s ranch– not to mention the absolutely stunning views that the trail has to offer as you trek through the floor of the canyon and then steeply ascend the ridge! That climb is a steep 2,380 feet in about 2 miles, so take it slow and enjoy the views on the way up! Hiking the McKittrick Canyon Trail also gives you the option of hiking all the way to the McKittrick Wilderness Campground, where you can do an overnight! The hike to the top of this ridge though is often considered the “toughest hike in Texas”, so be prepared for a steep ascent, false peaks, and lots of breaks!

Devil’s Hall

This hike is only about 2.1 miles in and 2.1 miles out, so about 4.2 miles total. Devil’s Hall is an exciting way to explore the Guadalupe Mountains and its canyons! A narrow slot in the canyon creates Devil’s Hall, and while the first mile is above the wash, the second one is much more adventurous, and requires you to look for your own path as you scramble over rocks and boulders! Even though the total elevation change on this hike is only 548 feet, this hike is considered strenuous due to the rock scramble and loose, uneven surfaces. If you plan to hike Devil’s Hall give yourself anywhere from 3-5 hours!

CAMPING/ OVERNIGHT OPTIONS in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains doesn’t seem to have a strict national park line like many do, so there is both a picnic area and a rest area, both just minutes from the visitor’s center where you can stay at overnight for free. There are three developed campsites in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Pine Springs Campground, Dog Canyon Campground, and Frijole Horse Corral Campground. The Pine Springs Campground, the picnic area, and the rest stop are the closest to all of the attractions that we wrote about here. Dog Canyon is on the other side of the park, about a 2 hour drive away, and the Frijole Horse Corral Campground is only for visitors with horses.

If you are looking to go on a longer, more strenuous hike, consider reserving a spot in one of the 10 wilderness campgrounds! The McKittrick Ridge Wilderness Campground would be the campground to sleep at if you choose to do the overnight on the McKittrick Canyon Trail!

Fallon at Guadalupe Peak, the highest peak in Texas!

Have Fun At Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

Guadalupe National Park was such a special area that was chock full with amazing hikes of all levels and great history from ancient people to Western frontiersmen. While you’re in the area, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is only about a 30-40 minute drive north! We highly suggest that you plan your trip so you get to see both National Parks!

As always, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to email us at or through our contact page. You can also find us on Instagram and YouTube at @zakandfal.

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