An Administrative History
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, authorized by an act of Congress in 1966 and established in 1972, comprises 76,293 acres of mountain and desert land in West Texas. Congress established the park for its scientific and scenic values. The park consists primarily of the highest and southernmost portion of the Guadalupe Mountains, a range that extends northeasterly into New Mexico. The escarpments and canyons of the high country provide dramatic displays of geological sequences and contain relict and unusual plant communities. Of the area within the park's boundaries, 46,850 acres are Congressionally designated wilderness. This designation precluded extensive development within the park and has limited the uses of much of the park to hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, and approved scientific research.
Location, Access, and Public Facilities
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located on the Texas- New Mexico Border, 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, and 55 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico (see Figure 1). Part of the northern boundary adjoins the Lincoln National Forest and lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. Other mountain ranges lie within or in proximity to the park: the Brokeoff Mountains to the north, the Delaware Mountains, Patterson Hills, and Sierra Diablo Mountains to the south (see Figure 2). U.S. Highway 62/180 passes through the southern end of the park and is the primary route by which visitors reach the park. State Road 137 in New Mexico provides access to the northern part of the park.
The park is located in an undeveloped and sparsely populated area where the land is used predominantly for cattle and sheep ranching. However, another national park--Carlsbad Caverns--is only 35 miles away on Highway 62/180 and at one point the boundaries of the two parks are only five miles apart. The tourist facilities that have been developed along the highway between El Paso and Carlsbad consist primarily of small cafe-gas stations. Dell City, Texas, a farming and ranching community with a population of about 400, is the town nearest to the park, but it has only limited services for tourists. A larger development of tourist facilities is located at Whites City, New Mexico, approximately 35 miles northeast of the park. Van Horn, Texas, 60 miles south of the park, also has tourist facilities. Guadalupe Mountains National Park provides the only campground between Whites City and Hueco Tanks, a state park on the eastern outskirts of El Paso.