Backpacking

A lone hiker stands at the edge of a great cliff with desert mountains behind him.
A lone hiker with a loaded backpack stands on the edge of McKittrick Ridge.

NPS Photo

Planning Your Backpacking Trip

A backpacking trip in Guadalupe Mountains requires some prior planning and decision making. Backpackers can choose from 10 designated campsites in the wilderness and obtain a permit at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

Backpacking Permit Checklist:

  1. Plan your itinerary: Read about our wilderness campsites and pick your destination. Bringing a group to backpack in the wilderness requires special considerations.
  2. Be realistic about elevation gains and water weight. The first mistake many hikers make is overestimating their ability and underestimating the challenges found in the Guadalupe Mountains. Every campsite in the wilderness requires a climb of at least 2,000 feet on rocky surfaces. All water must be carried.
  3. Download Planning Information: Print or download the park map, mileage chart, and elevations chart to plan your trip. Always have a backup itinerary. It's your responsibility to know and follow all wilderness camping regulations.
  4. Prepare and Pack: Check out our page with suggestions on how to prepare for your trip. Don't forget to check the weather to make sure that you pack appropriately.
  5. Obtain your Wilderness Use Permit: A Wilderness Use Permit (free) must be obtained before backpacking overnight. Wilderness Use Permits must be obtained in person at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Permits may be obtained up to 24 hours in advance of the trip. Due to the time involved, please be ready to begin the process at the visitor's center no later than 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time. Please be sure to have your driver's license ready, your itinerary, and your vehicle's license plate number. This will help to expedite the process and have you ready for the trails!

 
A papper permit form is on top of a topographic map of the park.

Wilderness Use Permits

A Wilderness Use Permit must be obtained in-person at the Pine Springs Visitor Center before backpacking overnight.

Dirty toilet paper lays across a natural landscape

Human Waste in the Wilderness

Nothing can spoil a hike as quickly as the discovery of toilet paper. Always use the restroom before hiking. Pack out your toilet paper.

A backpacker walks along a stony trail in a steep desert mountain landscape

Suggested Itineraries

Still not sure about what route to take? Check out these ranger favorites!

A metal sign in front of a wilderness campsite pad

Wilderness Campgrounds

Backpackers can choose from 10 designated campgrounds when planning a trip in the Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness.

A group of hikers with heavy packs proceed on a trail

Backpacking Groups

To protect park resources, special restrictions apply when bringing groups to camp overnight in the Wilderness.

Last updated: September 29, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

400 Pine Canyon
Salt Flat, TX 79847

Phone:

915-828-3251

Contact Us