Thing to Do

Drive to Williams Ranch

A primitive dirt road leads to a small blue ranch house dwarfed by desert mountains.
The road to Williams Ranch


The Williams Ranch Road is currently closed. 

The Williams Ranch Road is closed to all public access at this time due to severe damage and dangerous conditions. This closure includes public access by foot, vehicle, mountain bike, and stock traffic.
Heavy rains in the summer of 2021 caused extensive damage to the road, rendering it impassable for 4x4 vehicles. This closure is enacted to allow staff time to develop appropriate planning and compliance actions in order to address road conditions and return the road to safe condition efficiently.

If you have a high-clearance, four wheel drive vehicle, the primitive dirt road to Williams Ranch provides a unique opportunity to get off the beaten path and get close to the remote and imposing western escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains.

This road traverses bedrock and washes, often making for an extremely rough drive. A slow speed is mandatory for safe passage. Be prepared with plenty of water, a jack, and good spare tire. On these isolated, infrequently patrolled backcountry roads, a disabled vehicle can become a life-threatening situation.

A no-fee permit and a gate key is required for access to the Williams Ranch Road. Before you attempt the drive, check in at the Pine Springs Visitor Center for road informaiton and the gate key. 

You Will Need A High Clearance Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) Vehicle

A high clearance 4WD vehicle is defined as a SUV or truck type vehicle, with at least 15 inch tire rims or more, with a low gear transfer case, designed for heavier type use than a standard passenger vehicle, with at least 8 inches of clearance or more from the lowest point of the frame, body, suspension, or differential, to the ground, also including a means to mechanically power both, front and real wheels at the same time.

Rain can make roads difficult to drive or impassable following summer monsoons. Always inquire about current road conditions.

Protect the Guadalupe Mountains. Always stay on established roadways. OFF ROAD DRIVING IS PROHIBITED.

The effects of off-road driving last up to 50 years, and result in compacted soils, heavy erosion, and destroyed vegetation. Thank you for helping to keep Guadalupe Mountains National Park's ecosystem healthy.

4-6 Hours

To access Williams Ranch, check out a gate key at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Only 4X4, high ground clearance vehicles are allowed along this rough, one-lane, dirt road. Vehicles allowed on road must be street legal, registered and have a valid license plate.

From Pine Springs visitor center, drive west on highway 62/180 for 8.3 miles to a brown metal gate off the north side of the highway; the gate has a National Park Service arrowhead logo. From the gate, the drive is 7.3 miles (one way) and takes approximately one hour. Drive through the gate and lock it behind you. Drive 0.75 miles north to another gate and lock it behind you. This is a day use area; overnight parking/camping is not allowed. Please return the key to the Pine Springs Visitor Center after completing your tour.

Please carry water, food, first aid kit, and sun protection. Make sure you have a jack and a good spare tire.

Pets disturb wildlife and are not allowed on trails. Your pets must remain in your vehicle as opportunities for pets are very limited in the park.

The historic Williams Ranch house sits at the base of a 3,000 foot cliff on the west side of the Guadalupe Mountains. The road to the ranch follows the route of the 1858 Butterfield Overland Mail stage line for about two miles. Behind the ranchhouse is Bone Canyon. The cliffs and slopes of the canyon mouth are formed of the oldest rocks in the Guadalupes. 

Wilderness Use Permit required
A no-fee permit and a gate key is required for access to the Williams Ranch Road. Before you attempt the drive, check in at the Pine Springs Visitor Center for road informaiton and the gate key. 
The Williams Ranch road is subject to damage from summer monsoon rains, and may be closed from June to October due to damage. 
The Williams Ranch Road is a day use area. 
Accessibility Information
This road is accessible by high clearance 4WD vehicles, but there are no places for wheelchair use along the road. The historic Ranch House porch is not accessible, and the interior of the building is closed to the public. 

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Last updated: August 19, 2022