Backcountry Campground Descriptions
Guadalupe Peak (5 sites)
If your goal is to reach the highest peak in Texas, an overnight at the Guadalupe Peak campground is ideal. On a clear night the stars may tempt you to lay awake for hours. The campground is located on the Guadalupe Peak trail, 3.1 miles from the Pine Springs trailhead, and 1 mile below the Peak. The campground is on a small knoll and only minimally protected from high winds. Makeshift windbreaks and rocks left behind on tent pads are a reminder to others to prepare for wind. Elevation gain is 2200 feet.
Pine Top (8 sites)
Located at the top of the ridge, Pine Top is the backcountry campground in closest proximity to the Bowl, and offers excellent views of the park's highest peaks. Pine Top is an excellent choice for a single night backpack trip. It is 4.2 miles from Pine Springs trailhead via Tejas and Bush Mountain trails. Elevation gain is 2300 feet. Though secluded in trees, the campground is susceptible to high winds and lightning.
Tejas (5 sites)
The extra distance to Tejas is worth the time for those who wish to stay in a more densely forested surrounding. The tall trees provide deep shade in the morning and late afternoon and protection from high winds aloft. Centrally located, Tejas campground is 5.5 miles from Pine Springs trailhead or 6.2 miles from Dog Canyon.
Bush Mountain (5 sites)
A favorite of many for the exceptional vistas and western sunsets. Though the campsites at Bush Mountain are semi-protected from high winds, backpackers will find hiking on the exposed trails to reach the campground difficult during periods of high wind activity. Bush Mountain campground is 6.2 miles from Pine Springs trailhead via Tejas and Bush Mountain trails.
Mescalero (8 sites)
This campground is near several trails leading in different directions, making it an excellent choice for a "base camp" while exploring the highcountry. (Listen for wild turkeys off in the distance.) Mescalero is situated in ponderosa pine and brush, and is on a slope overlooking a small drainage. Located on the Tejas trail, Mescalero is 6.2 miles from Pine Springs trailhead or 4.7 miles from Dog Canyon.
McKittrick Ridge (8 sites)
Travel through the beautiful McKittrick Canyon before beginning the very steep climb up to the ridge. This hike isn't for everyone, but if your endurance is up to it, the views along the climb and on top are breath-taking. From McKittrick Canyon trailhead, the distance is 7.6 miles, with the elevation gain (significant for quite some distance) of over 2700 feet. If you'd like to visit this beautiful ridge without quite the workout, begin instead at Dog Canyon. Though the distance is roughly equal (7.4 miles), the elevation gain is much less (under 1500 feet)!
Blue Ridge (5 sites)
Blue Ridge campground is less frequently used than some of the more "popular" ones, and may offer a greater opportunity of solitude for hikers willing to go the extra distance. The campground is surrounded by ponderosa pine and Douglas fir; wild roses and grassy areas are nearby - a beautiful location and very remote. The distance from Pine Springs trailhead: via Tejas/Blue Ridge 7.8 miles, via Tejas/Bush Mountain 8.9 miles.
Marcus (5 sites)
From Dog Canyon, hikers travel through grassy areas and the remnants of recent wildland fire, then cross Manzanita Ridge to view West Dog Canyon before descending to an elevation equivalent to the starting point. Not frequently used; some of the trails leading away from this campground may be difficult to follow at times. Pay attention to the trail and rock cairns marking the way. The campground is in pinion and juniper, shaded and protected from the wind. The distance from Dog Canyon is 3.7 miles.
Wilderness Ridge (5 sites)
An interesting hike along the Permian Reef geology trail meanders up 2000 feet to Wilderness Ridge where the sudden transition from rock to trees is refreshing. Once on top, the trail is level through forested and open areas and takes you to the edge of the escarpment where the view is outstanding. Though it's tempting to pitch camp on top of the ridge prior to reaching the campground, it is illegal to camp anywhere other than the designated campgrounds. Wilderness Ridge campground is in trees, and worth the extra distance to save the resource from unnecessary damage.
Shumard (5 sites)
Most hikers head straight for the highcountry, and avoid this desert hike as an overnight adventure. If you enjoy arid Chihuahuan desert or you find yourself fascinated by the geology of the Guadalupes, consider a backpack trip to this remote location. Though it is 9.2 miles from Pine Springs trailhead, the elevation gain is much less significant than many of the other trails. Do make sure you are prepared for sun, wind, and weather exposure. The trail is not protected by trees along the way.