15 Best Things to Do in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX
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If you are raring to embark on a stress-free and fun adventure, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the place to go.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is roughly 30 miles east of El Paso in West Texas.

The park elevation ranges from 4,000 feet above sea level at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park base to 8,751 feet atop Guadalupe Peak, Texas' highest point.

The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an ancient reef lifted out of the sea during the Cretaceous Period.

As a result, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to an abundant and diverse array of plant and animal species.

The park is also home to important historical sites and fantastic places to enjoy if you love the outdoors.

Here are the best things to do in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas:

Discover the Flora and Fauna of the Salt Basin Dunes

Scenic sunset view at Salt Basin Dunes
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The Salt Basin Dunes are home to numerous rare plants and animals, making it an excellent spot for nature lovers.

Its white gypsum sands rise 100 feet above the desert floor, contrasting the Guadalupe Mountains' dark towering peaks.

The Salt Basin Dunes, situated in the park's northwest corner, host gypsum-loving plants and animals, such as the gypsum scalebroom, a white type of the lesser earless spiny lizard.

Daytime view of Salt Basin Dunes
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You can also find five of the park's seven scorpion species there.

The dunes themselves are fascinating, comprising layers of sand that have accumulated through time.

So if you want a unique and beautiful spot to explore, be sure to check out the Salt Basin Dunes.

Explore the Paths of the Pinery Trail

Daytime at Pinery Trail
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The Pinery Trail in the Guadalupe Mountains is a great way to experience the park's varied landscapes.

The Trail is accessible from two points: the first is at the Pine Springs Visitor Center, and the second is at the Frijole Ranch Historic District.

The Pinery Trail winds through various landscapes, including forests, meadows, and rocky outcrops.

Along the way, you'll have great views of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas.

The Pinery Trail is a great way to experience the diverse landscapes of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Appreciate History at the Frijole Ranch History Museum

Welcome sign of Frijole Ranch History Museum
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The Frijole Ranch History Museum is one of the most important historical sites in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Frijole Ranch History Museum is 1 1/2 miles northeast of Pine Springs Visitor Center, open seasonally.

Today, the Frijole Ranch History Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the region's history and explore some of its historic buildings.

Buildings at Frijole Ranch History Museum
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You can explore the grounds, tour the museum, and even hike on one of the nearby trails during your visit.

If the museum is not yet open, you can walk around the courtyard and enjoy the cool spring water.

Visitors can also enjoy the 0.3-mile Frijole Ranch Nature Trail, which loops around the historic ranch buildings.

You can enjoy a sumptuous picnic in the shade of the courtyard's tall trees, perfect for families and children.

The grounds of Frijole Ranch History Museum
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Relax in the Calming Waters of the Manzanita Spring Trail

The waters of Manzanita Spring Trail
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One of the most beautiful Guadalupe Mountains National Park spots is the Manzanita Spring Trail.

This spring, a wonderful place to relax and unwind, is in the park's northwest corner.

The calm pools of water are cool and refreshing on a hot summer day, while the site itself can be an excellent spot for stargazing on a clear night.

Daytime view of Manzanita Spring Trail
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Likewise, this is a popular trail for bird watching, trail running, and walking.

It can still be peaceful at certain times of the day.

The Manzanita Spring Trail is available all year and is a lovely place to explore.

Meditate at the Smith Spring Trail

Pool of water at Smith Spring Trail
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It takes an hour and four minutes to finish this moderately tricky route.

Smith Spring Trail is a must-visit destination if you're looking for a peaceful spot to meditate or take in stunning views.

Woodsy area of Smith Spring Trail
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The Smith Spring Trail is close to the Frijole Ranch.

The route takes you through a sheltered oasis, a welcome respite from the hot sun.

Smith Spring Trail provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, foothills, and desert.

A short water cascade at Smith Spring Trail
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Admire the Stunning View of the McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail

Starting point of McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail
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The McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail is a scenic nine-mile trail in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, perfect for all nature lovers.

If you're looking for a quiet and beautiful spot to enjoy the outdoors, visit the McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail.

The fascinating trail takes you through various landscapes, including forests, meadows, and canyons.

Fall scene at McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail
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The Trail is also home to wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and javelinas.

McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail also provides excellent views of colorful wildflowers at certain times of the year.

The Nature Trail is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Dead tree along McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail
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Have the Best Outdoor Adventure Ever at Dog Canyon Campground

Dog Canyon Campground is an excellent spot for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy the great outdoors.

It takes two hours to drive from Pine Springs to Dog Canyon Campground.

However, it is only accessible on foot or by 4x4.

Dog Canyon campground is cooler in the summer than Pine Springs, but it is sheltered from strong gusty winds in the winter and spring because of its higher elevation and protected location below cliff walls.

Nine tent sites and four RV sites (no hookups, no dump station, and no RVs longer than 23ft) are allowed in the park.

However, one group site is available for 10-20 people.

The campground allows for picnics since it has drinking water and flush toilets.

It's a perfect site for those who want to experience the great outdoors without roughing it.

If you're looking for a place to disconnect from the world and enjoy nature, Dog Canyon Campground is the perfect spot for you.

Hike on the Pratt Cabin Trail

Exterior of Pratt Cabin
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Pratt Cabin is in a canopy of trees inside Guadalupe Mountain National Park, off the McKittrick Canyon Trail.

The Pratt family used the historic cabin as a summer house in the early 1900s.

Then, they donated it to the park in the 1970s.

The Trail to Pratt Cabin is a moderately challenging 2.5-mile hike that provides stunning views of McKittrick Canyon and the surrounding mountains.

If you're looking for a fantastic hiking experience, go to the Pratt Cabin Trail.

You will cross a stream twice on this hike, so wear appropriate footwear.

You may rest on the cabin's porch and relax in one of the picnic table chairs or enjoy the building's interior.

Challenge Yourself along the Guadalupe Peak Trail

The summit of Guadalupe Peak Trail
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The Guadalupe Peak Trail is an 8.4-mile out-and-back trail that leads to the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Stop by the visitor center before starting your hike to get information about the Trail and pick up a map.

The Trail is famous for its breathtaking views; it is also one of the more challenging trails in the park.

A wooden bridge at Guadalupe Peak Trail's cliff
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Guadalupe Peak Trail is at the northern end of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and is an excellent place for hikers.

With a 3,000-foot elevation gain, the hike will take six to eight hours to finish.

If you're looking for an adventure, add the Guadalupe Peak Trail to your list.

A hiker climbing up Guadalupe Peak Trail
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Conquer Bush Mountain

Daytime view of Bush Mountain
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Bush Mountain is Texas' second tallest peak, despite being generally unknown.

Starkly contrasting with the desert bottom far below, the top region of Bush Mountain has a blanket of soft grasses studded with Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir.

Views of the desert abound from the summit of Bush Mountain.

Hiking trail of Bush Mountain
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The peak also offers a spectacular view of Pine Spring Canyon and the western side of the park's wall of mountains, including Bartlett Peak, Shumard Peak, and Guadalupe Peak (the high point of Texas).

A trail leads to the top of Bush Mountain, accessible through gentle grasslands and well-spaced trees.

Hikers who reach the summit of Bush Mountain will marvel at the views of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the surrounding area.

Bush Mountain's bench mark
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Take the Thrilling Hike to Hunter Peak

The view from Hunter Peak
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Hunter Peak is the second-highest peak in the Guadalupe Mountains and is a popular destination for hikers.

When you reach its peak, you can savor the stunning views of the surrounding areas, including the desert plains to the west, the Davis Mountains to the south, and the sheltered pine trees of the Bowl to the north.

The trailhead is located at the Pine Springs Visitor Center, and the journey to the top will take between six to eight hours.

USGS marker of Hunter Peak
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The Hunter Peak is a strenuous day trek that loops up the Bear Canyon Trail and down the Tejas Trail, offering solitude, gorgeous sceneries, and access to side trails into the Bowl area.

Hunter Peak rises 2,700ft above Pine Springs Trailhead to an elevation of 8,368ft above sea level, one of the more challenging hikes in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

However, the views from the top are worth the effort, so add Hunter Peak to your park itinerary.

Climb the Shumard Canyon Peak

Daytime view of Shumard Canyon Peak
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Shumard Canyon Peak, Texas' third tallest peak, has two different personalities.

The mountain appears as a worn and rutted desert pyramid from the east, with well-defined ridges extending from the summit.

On the other hand, the peak appears as a sheer-faced wall of chalky rock from the west, changing color throughout the day as the sun's rays paint it.

The summit's relative inaccessibility adds to this peak's mystique.

Shumard Canyon Peak is nestled between Bartlett Peak to the northwest and Guadalupe Peak to the southeast, separated from the Bush Mountain Trail at the depths of Pine Spring Canyon.

Any route to the summit of this mountain will require struggling through prickly desert scrub on rocky, trail-less terrain.

You can reach Shumard Canyon Peak from the main park entrance, although many would say this is the most difficult of the park's primary named summits.

The easiest (and shortest) route to the summit is a 4.8-mile round-trip hike from the Pine Springs Visitor Center and follows the Bush Mountain Trail before veering off-trail near the end.

This hike is challenging, and you need to do some bushwhacking.

But you can do it if you're determined to reach all of the primary named peaks in the park.

If you're up for the challenge, add Shumard Canyon Peak to your list of things to do at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Explore the Ruins of the Pinery Butterfield Stage Station

The ruins of Pinery Butterfield Stage Station
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The Pinery Butterfield Stage Station is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the American West.

The ruins of the ancient Pinery Butterfield Stage Station, formerly a popular stop on the original 2,800-mile Butterfield Overland Mail Route, are a short .75-mile walk from the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

Marker of Pinery Butterfield Stage Station
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The Butterfield Overland Mail Route once passed through the station, built in 1858.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Route ended in 1861, and the building became a ranch house until the early 1900s.

The old stone walls of the station are now in ruins, but its location offers stunning views of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Rubble at Pinery Butterfield Stage Station
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Marvel at the Breathtaking Views of El Capitan

Scenic view of the beautiful El Capitan
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For hundreds of years, travelers used El Capitan as a signal peak because of its visibility from multiple directions.

El Capitan, a massive Permian-age limestone monolith, is one of the most popular attractions in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

The peak towers 3,000ft (914m) above the desert floor and is the eighth highest peak in Texas.

Near Salt Flat, Texas, you'll find this 15.4-kilometer out-and-back Trail.

Hiking trail of El Capitan
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This strenuous trek takes an average of five hours and 50 minutes to complete.

This Trail is ideal for hiking, and you can go there any time since it's open year-round.

You can see El Capitan from miles away, and it's a popular spot for rock climbers because they can take multiple routes to the summit.

If you're not into rock climbing, you can still enjoy the views from the base of El Capitan by hiking one of the trails that lead there.

Ascend the Devil's Hall Trail

Daytime view of Devil's Hall Trail
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The Devil's Hall Trail is a short but arduous hike that leads to one of the unique features in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park - Devil's Hall.

This trail is 3.8 miles long, to and from the Pine Springs Trail.

The Devil's Hall Trail leads to a rocky wash after the first mile, leading to an impressive natural rock staircase that leads to a "hallway" made by steep canyon walls.

Details of Devil's Hall Trail's formation
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Hikers who attempt this Trail may struggle over big rocks and other debris in its wash section.

However, you'll see breathtaking views of various geologic structures, steep canyon walls, tall trees, and mountaintops when you overcome the struggle.

The Devil's Hall Trail is an excellent choice for a challenging hike with unique features and stunning views.

Final Thoughts

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an excellent place to visit if you're looking for beautiful scenery and peaceful, relaxing areas.

With so many attractions to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect spot to admire the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Check out this park's trails, springs, peaks, and historical buildings if you love nature.

So why wait?

Discover the beauty of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park today!