Photo - Courtesy of Dustin Nelson
Nature’s power and beauty is at its most awesome in the changes of the weather. Sunshine is plentiful in the Guadalupe Mountains, but the popular image of deserts as hot and dry is frequently shattered by monsoon rains in summer and occasionally snow in winter. With over 5,000 feet in elevation change in the park including, mountain slopes with differing aspects, and high canyon walls, local conditions can be extremely variable. For example, a summer hailstorm can drop daytime temperatures into the 50’s during the event, while just 12 miles away the desert bakes at over 100 degrees. Meanwhile, higher elevations in the park can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the lower elevations. Not only is there incredible variation in local conditions, but there is also a wide fluctuation in daytime highs and lows. At night, as the earth cools, heat is radiated into the atmosphere. On clear nights (which are frequent) much of the heat escapes causing temperature drops of over 30 degrees. The secret to hiking comfortably and safely is to dress in layers and be prepared for sudden weather changes.