Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Texas, United States North America icon North America

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in the far west part of Texas, United States. The park covers an area of 134.9 square miles (349.5 sq km).

The park is approximately 235 miles north of Big Bend National Park which is the only other national park in Texas.  It is about a 3.5-hour drive between the two, and it would be sad to visit one and not the other if you made the effort to get to that remote part of the state.

The foundation of the national park is the Guadalupe Mountains, which is the same mountain range that serves as the home for Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This range represents the highest points in Texas.

The Guadalupe Mountains rise out of the flats of the Chihuahua Desert.  Vegetation on the eastern side of the park includes grassland, juniper, and pinyon pine while the forest in the mountains is comprised of ponderosa pine, Arizona pine, Rocky Mountain Douglas fir, and alligator juniper.  This varied vegetation and differing ecosystems give way to a variety of wildlife species.

Cougar, coyote, bobcat, gray fox, badger, black bear, gold eagle, and the peregrine falcon make up the primary predators of the national park.  Other popular species include javelina, elk, skunk, mule deer, woodpecker, great horned owl, and the emphasis roadrunner.

Guadalupe Highlights

The arid mountainous terrain and rugged landscapes of west Texas are what most people identify as the natural attraction highlights.  The combination of the Guadalupe Mountains and a trip south to Big Bend National Park makes for a tremendous exploration of Texas’ wild west.

If you are going to make the journey to either one, you might as well as add to the adventure and see them both.

Guadalupe Peak

Guadalupe Peak is also affectionately known as Signal Peak and it reaches a summit of 8,751 feet (2,667 m).  This represents the tallest point in Texas. Texas better make sure that Denali in Alaska does not hear that “Everything is bigger in Texas.”

El Capitan

El Capitan is a stunning peak located here in the Guadalupe Mountains.  It is an iconic picturesque mountain that appears more like a thrown sitting atop of an eroded mountain.  It reaches a summit of 8,085 feet (2,464 m) and is the 10th tallest mountain in Texas.

It is a symbol of the Texas west, but it is not to be mistaken for the more famous El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.  The summit can be reached by climbers who first start an ascent up Guadalupe Peak.

Trails of Guadalupe National Park

There are numerous trails around the national park allowing hikers and visitors to explore the arid mountainous Texas region.  Trails range from easy to difficult.  There are also climbing opportunities as well.

Smith Spring Trail: This is a loop trail covering 2.4 miles (3.86 km) with an elevation gain of 387 feet (117.9 m).  It follows along a river and provides views of the range.

Devil’s Hall Loop Trail: This loop trail travels 3.7 miles (5.9 km) through the forests and along meadows with wildflowers during the spring.  The trail is rated moderate and has an elevation gain of 590 feet (179.8 m).

El Capitan Trail: This is a point-to-point trail that ascends 1,689 feet (514 m) with views of El Capitan that is one of the most iconic features of the national park.  The trail covers a distance of 9.6 miles (15.4 m).

Guadalupe Peak Trail: This is a challenging ascent up 3,000 feet (914.4 m) over a distance of 4.25 miles (6.08 km) out and then back again.  The hike up is difficult but the rewards are stellar with amazing panoramic views of the Chihuahua Desert below.

Guadalupe Peak-El Capitan Saddle Trail: This is a trail that provides access to the backside of El Capitan.  It is from this side, that climbers can begin the ascent up to the summit of El Capitan. 

Guadalupe Mountains Highlights

  • Guadalupe Peak
  • El Capitan

 

 

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