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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

2 Days Exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Updated: May 22

El Capitán peak with yucca in the foreground and a cloudy blue sky
Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an unforgettable experience that offers a diverse range of adventures for every type of traveler. The park boasts some of the most stunning mountain vistas in the United States, with the towering Guadalupe Peak as its centerpiece. Hiking enthusiasts can take on the challenge of climbing to the peak's summit, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert and the rugged landscape below. The park also features an extensive network of trails that lead visitors through lush canyons, sparkling streams, and ancient fossilized reefs.

We stayed in the Pine Springs Campground in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. There are 13 sites with no hookups or dump station and all sites are reservable at recreation. gov. We stayed here for 4 nights. For the start of this road trip go to

Along the Southern Border. We were camped here for 3 days but we only spent 2 days in the park. On the other day we drove the short distance to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Our campsite at Guadalupe mountains, national  park, showing trucks and trailers
Our campsite

We drove to White’s City in New Mexico the following morning to get gas. It’s at the junction of Hwy 62 and Carlsbad Caverns Hwy. This is the closest gas station to the campground. After gassing up we drove back to Guadalupe Mt. National park and hiked Smith Spring Trail.

Hiking the Smith Spring Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an unforgettable experience. It starts at The Frijole Ranch Trailhead and is paved to Manzanita Spring then turns into a well-maintained dirt trail to Smith Spring. As we traversed the well-maintained dirt trail, we encountered stunning vistas of the rugged desert landscape and the majestic mountain ranges that surround it. The highlight of the hike is undoubtedly Smith Spring itself, a tranquil oasis nestled in a shaded area against the mountain. The spring is fed by an underground aquifer, and the water cascades gently down the rocks, providing a soothing soundtrack to your journey. As we made our way back to the trailhead, we took a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the park and reflect on the peacefulness of the hike.

In the afternoon we drove through Dell City to the Salt Basin Dunes Trailhead. The Salt Basin Dunes are gypsum bright-white sand dunes that cover about 2,000 acres and range from 3 feet high to 60 feet high. There are views of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,751 ft. in the background. The Salt Basin Dunes Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park offers a unique hiking experience through a vast expanse of gypsum sand dunes. The trail is a 2.3-mile loop that took us through a pristine desert environment with stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Along the way, we saw a variety of plant and animal life, including desert holly, yucca, and roadrunners. As we hiked, the dunes changed color and shape, creating a mesmerizing and ever-changing landscape. The hike is rated as moderate and is suitable for families and individuals looking for an adventure in the park. When we were there the gate to the parking lot closed at sunset so we kept a shape eye on the road leading to the ;to ingot out just as the ranger arriver to lock up.

We made a drive outside the park to photograph the El Capitan formation. It is an iconic image from the park. These photos were taken on Highway 62 leading into the Park from the south. El Capitan is the prominent formation overlooking the valley.

On our last full day in the park, we hiked to the Pratt Cabin in Mckittrick Canyon. It is a 4.8-mile out-and-back hike. The trail does go past the cabin to higher elevations on the mountain but we stopped at the cabin. We had lunch on the porch before returning back to the trailhead. We saw deer and javelina on the way back. The cabin is named for Wallace Pratt. While on a business trip in 1921, he bought a quarter of the McCombs ranch and made the cabin his summer home. He eventually became the major donor of what is now Guadalupe Mountain NP.

In conclusion Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and hiking enthusiasts. With stunning desert landscapes, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife, there is something for everyone in this park. Whether you're looking for an easy day hike or a challenging multi-day backpacking trip, the park has plenty of options to choose from. The Smith Spring Trail and Salt Basin Dunes Trail are just two examples of the many trails available to explore the beauty of the park. No matter which trails you choose to hike, the breathtaking scenery and unique experiences will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Lorna’s Tips and Lessons

It is fun to immerse yourself in the history and culture of the area that you are visiting. One of the ways I enjoy doing that is by reading fiction, whose setting is where I am visiting. One such novel was written in the beauty of the Guadalupe Mountains. Track Of The Cat is a novel written by a former National Park Ranger, Nevada Barr. Her award-winning novels often feature an adventurous National Park Ranger, Anna Pigeon. Great audiobook to listen to while traveling.

Here is a list of novels set in National Parks.

Next: Carlsbad Caverns National Park


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