Established by Congress in 1972, Guadalupe Mountains National Park lies along the northern edge of the state’s “boot heel”, sharing a border with New Mexico. The park’s rugged beauty, comprised of a desert mountain environment with over half its eighty-six thousand-plus acres designated as wilderness, includes McKittrick Canyon, a riparian waterway where big-tooth maples turn saffron in the fall, making it one of the park’s premiere autumn destinations for hikers. The surrounding Guadalupe mountain range shelters important components of the state’s natural heritage including springs, salt basins and gypsum dunes, fossils, native plants and animals, and over three hundred species of birds. The park also contains some of the earliest remnants of our frontier past, seen in the Williams Ranch site, a preserved ranch house built in 1908, the Butterfield Overland mail and stagecoach route that crosses the lower elevations of the park, the historic Frijole Ranch complex where the Smith family forged a life along the flanks of the Guadalupe range, as well as many other historic sites and artifacts scattered across the park’s terrain. Explorers, pioneers, settlers, surveyors, Native Americans, and the military all crossed this way over the last century and a half and the remaining evidence reveals both perseverance and a profound respect for the beauty of the land. Today, hikers, backpackers, birders, and history enthusiast all take to the trails, including the Guadalupe Peak Trail, a strenuous route that takes hikers all the way to the top of Texas.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
16 years and older: $5. Pass is good for 7 days.
Park open year-round. Headquarters Visitor Center (Pine Springs): Daily 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.