Where can I drive in the park?
The scenic approach to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is beautiful from any direction, but there are no paved driving tours or roads in the interior of the park. Park roads provide access to the Headquarters Visitor Center and Pine Springs Campground, McKittrick Canyon Contact Station, Frijole Ranch, Williams Ranch (4X4 only), Dog Canyon, and trailheads.
Picnicking, Camping, and Lodging
Where can I picnic?
Many visitors enjoy picnicking at Frijole Ranch, which has water and picnic tables under large shade trees. There are also picnic tables located near the Headquarters Visitor Center parking lot (limited shade), near the restrooms in the Pine Springs Campground, at the McKittrick Canyon contact station (lower parking lot), and at Dog Canyon.
Can I use a BBQ grill with charcoal?
No. Open fires using wood or charcoal are prohibited anywhere within the park. You may cook with self-contained gas or propane stoves only. There are grills available at the 3 state rest areas located just outside the park.
Do I need a reservation for camping?
No, camping in the park is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reservations are only necessary for group campgrounds.
What facilities are available at the campgrounds?
Pine Springs Campground has 20 tent sites with leveled tent pads and picnic tables, and 19 RV sites (the RV camping area is a paved parking lot). Campgrounds have water, flush-toilet restrooms, and utility sinks, but there are no showers. There are also pay phones and a drink machine in the Pine Springs campground.
Does the campground have hook-ups or a dump station for RV's?
No, water is available to fill your tanks, but there is no dump station and there are no electrical hook-ups. The closest full service campground (including showers) is at White’s City, New Mexico, located 35 miles east on U.S. Highway 62/180.
What is the maximum length for an RV?
Campground sites can accommodate vehicles up to 40 feet. Some wider sites are available for units with tow vehicles or trailers if vehicles are disconnected.
Do the campgrounds often fill up?
No, generally, there is space available in the campgrounds, even on weekends, though in the summer it’s best to arrive early on Friday or Saturday. Campgrounds do fill quickly during spring break, busy holiday weekends, and peak color change in late October. Alternative camping suggestions are posted at the Headquarter Visitor Center when the campground fills quickly.
What does it cost to camp?
The cost is $8 per night for an individual site. There is a self-pay, self-registration station near the campground restrooms.
Are fires allowed in the campground?
No. Fires are prohibited anywhere in the park.
Are pets allowed in the campground?
Yes, but pets must be on leash. Pets are limted to the Pinery Trail ONLY. It takes you to the Butterfield Stage Ruins and lasts about 3/4 of a mile. It is the trail directly behind the Visitor's Center.
Is there lodging in the park, or where is the closest lodging?
There is no lodging in the park. The closest lodging is 35 miles east on U.S. Highway 62/180 at White’s City, New Mexico.
Where can I eat? Where can I get groceries? Ice? Gasoline? Diesel?
There are no restaurants, service stations, convenience stores, or overnight lodging (except camping) available in the park. The closest location for ice, groceries, and showers is 35 miles east in White's City, NM. Gasoline (and diesel) is also available there.
What is the entrance fee?
There is a $5.00 per person entrance fee for adults 16 years of age and older. This fee is good for 7 days. Self-pay at any park trailhead. There is no charge for coming to visitor centers. A National Park Pass, Golden Age, or Golden Access Pass covers entrance fees.
Hiking and Outdoor Activities
Where can I hike in the park?
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a hikers’ paradise, with over 80 miles of hiking trails. Trails range from short, paved trails and moderate, canyon trails to strenuous, all-day or overnight backcountry hikes. Detailed information about individual trails is available at the Headquarter Visitor Center at Pine Springs.
How far is the hike to Guadalupe Peak and how long does the hike take?
The hike is 8.4 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 3000’, and generally takes 6-8 hours.
What are some other popular day hikes?
Is there any technical climbing in the park?Technical climbing is rarely done in the park. It is not considered safe due to the limestone composition of rock. The best place for rock climbing or bouldering is at Hueco Tanks State Park, just east of El Paso, Texas.
- McKittrick Canyon is very popular, especially during fall colors. The hike in the canyon is 4.8 miles round-trip to Pratt Cabin, or 6.8 miles round-trip to the Grotto. Plan to spend 3 to 5 hours to hike in McKittrick Canyon.
- The Devil’s Hall hike is also a favorite. It takes 3 or 4 hours and is 4.2 miles round-trip.
- Another popular hike is the Smith Spring Trail which starts at Frijole Ranch. The hike is a 2.3 mile loop trail, and generally takes less than 2 hours.
Is mountain bicycling allowed in the park?
Mountain bicycles are prohibited on park trails to protect fragile habitats, and because many trails are extremely steep with dangerous drop-offs. Visitors may use mountain bicycles on the Williams Ranch 4X4 road.
Can I take my dog hiking with me?
No, pets are not allowed on hiking trails or in the backcountry. The closest kennel service (limited hours) is at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. They may be walked on the paved section of the Pinery Loop directly behind the Visitor's Center.
Is there water available along park trails?
No, water is not available for human consumption on any of the hiking trails. Water is available at trailheads and visitor centers. To stay hydrated, you will need to take at least one gallon of water per person per day when hiking.
Can I bring horses to the park, or are trail rides available in the park?
Horseback riding is only available if you bring your own stock. There are no rental horses available in the area. Trails are available for day-use only, stock may not stay overnight in the backcountry. Corrals and camping for visitors with stock are available by reservation at Pine Springs and Dog Canyon.
Fauna and Flora
What about snakes in the park and will I encounter a rattlesnake?
There are many species of non-poisonous snakes in the park, and 5 species of rattlesnakes. Most are seldom seen by visitors. If you should encounter a rattlesnake, do not agitate it and walk around it at a safe distance. All wildlife is protected in the park and should not be disturbed or harmed.
Will I encounter a mountains lion or bear?
These animals are rare, and are seldom observed by either visitors or staff.
What is that flower? What is that bird?
There are many free hand-outs and brochures available at the Headquarters Visitor Center, and knowledgeable, park staff members are available to assist in identifying any of the park’s plants and animals. In addition, there is also a bookstore with a nice selection of field guides and reference sources on a variety of topics.
What is the name of the tree with the red bark?
The tree with the red bark is the beautiful Texas Madrone (Arbutus xalapensis).
How far are we from Carlsbad Caverns National Park?
Carlsbad Caverns is 42 miles from the Headquarters Visitor Center at Pine Springs.
What are the hours of operation for the cave? What is available at the cave? When is the bat flight?
Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park share a park newspaper which is available at the Headquarters Visitor Center and includes complete information for the cave. Or visit Carlsbad Cavern National Park online.
The Bat Flight is seasonal, late spring through late fall. The bats migrate south for the winter.
How can I get to the large waterfall?
Most often visitors are referring to Sitting Bull Falls, which is located in the Lincoln National Forest. For more information about this beautiful attraction, call (505) 885-4181.