When is it Busy?
A largely roadless wilderness park, the infrastucture at Guadalupe Mountains National Park was designed for a much lower level of visitation than the park is now experiencing. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in even more visitors seeking out the qualities of this special place. While much of the year year the park may not feel crowded, in the spring (March-April) and fall (October-November) the park experiences seasonal surges that guarantee parking and developed camping will fill on weekends.
Be Prepared For Full Parking Lots
With over eighty miles of trails, there's almost always space to hike, however, parking is limited throughout the park. During spring and fall weekends, it is not unusual for the parking at Pine Springs to fill to capacity. When these lots fill to capacity, visitors will be rerouted to other locations in the park. Be prepared with an alternative plan for hiking at McKittrick Canyon or other locations or consider visiting during the middle of the week.
Developed Campgrounds Have Advanced Reservations
All of the developed campgrounds in the park are reservable in advance through the recreation.gov service. All available campsites at Pine Springs and Dog Canyon require reservations. Please make camping reservations in advance of your visit to ensure that you have a place to stay before driving all the way to the park.
At present all overnight backpacking trips require a free first come, first served Wilderness Use Permit; these permits can be obtained at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. All wilderness camping sites require a hike of at least three miles, two thousand feet of elevation gain, and all water must be carried in. During busy weeks in the spring and fall, it is not unusual for the Guadalupe Peak Wilderness Campground to fill, so the park strongly encourages that you have a back up itinerary.
What should I do if the park is full when I arrive?
While there is no commercial or dispersed camping immediately ajacent the park, an hours drive north, west, or south will take you to alternatives for camping outside the park. If parking is full, please consider nearby attractions such as Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
On busy weekends, parking is the resource that is in the shortest supply. Have a backup plan and learn when different areas are busy.
Learn about primitive tent and RV camping at the Pine Springs and Dog Canyon campgrounds.
Things To Do
Hikes, historic sites and other things to do during your visit.
Last updated: October 21, 2021