"Guadalupe Mountain National Park by Kimberlyann" Top 5 Page for this destination Guadalupe Mountains National Park by KimberlyAnn

Located in western Texas, only about 40 miles from Carlsbad Caverns, this 86,416 acre-park is one of the lesser-visited parks in the United States. The Guadalupe Mountains are the remnants of one of the finest examples of an ancient marine fossil reef on Earth. This reef formed about 260-270 million years ago, and geologists from around the world visit here. These mountains have often been called the "Island in the Desert." The mountains are a rugged limestone reef that rises up over 5,000 feet from the Chihuahuan Desert that surrounds it. Here you will find tall mountains, dramatically carved canyons, desert scrub, and shady groves, as well as wildlife and many birds. The mountains raise up with sheer straight walls, the vegetation seems sparse, but put on your hiking boots and hit the trails. You will find springs surrounded with maples, oaks, and walnut trees, wooded canyons, and high-mountain slopes. The highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peek, at 8,749 ft lies within this mountain park. Within the desert you will find creosote bush, agave, and cactus as well as lizards, snakes, kangaroo rats, and many other mainly nocturnal animals. In the canyons you will find trees such as ponderosa pines and the Texas madrone. Higher up you will find areas of Douglas fir, ponderosa, and limber pine trees. This park is open all year, with occasional closures due to weather.

The Historic Pratt Lodge

The Pratt Lodge may be found by hiking 2.3 miles (one way) along the McKittrick Canyon trail. As you walk you will cross the stream twice before you arrive at this historic lodge. William Pratt, a petroleum geologist loved the beauty and geology of the Guadalupe Mountains. In the l930s he purchased land in the canyon where he build a stone lodge. This cabin became his part time home and summer retreat. In 1957 Pratt donated 5,632 acres of his land to the National Park Service so that the environment would be protected and enjoyed by others. His gift along with the purchase of 70,000 acres from J.C. Hunter Jr.'s Guadalupe Mountain Ranch ensured that Guadalupe Mountains National Park would be authorized by congress in 1966. This national park officially opened to the public in 1972. Wallace Pratt died at the age of 96 on Christmas Day, 1981, but his stone cabin remains as a monument to this pioneer conservationist. Volunteers staff the Pratt Lodge for most of the year. In April when we were there we found a knowledgeable volunteer at the lodge, who told us about the history of the area. You may look inside this stone cabin or picnic on the outside tables nearby. Water and restrooms are also available, except during the coldest winter months.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:This is Texas's largest designated wilderness, and is mostly backcountry.
  • Cons:If you are unable to hike or do not enjoy hiking you will find very little to do in Guadalupe.
  • In a nutshell:This park is for people who love to hike and backpack, being filled with wonderful hiking trails.
  • Last visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Apr 1999
  • Intro Updated Apr 8, 2010
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Reviews (9)

Comments (9)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    It is amazing how many remote places this huge state still has, and little known about them. Your tips and pictures are great

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Amazing to see something as different as Smith Springs in that setting! I distantly saw this NP while I was at Carlsbad Caverns in 2008 - wishing I had time to visit Guadalupe too! Your page on Little Bighorn inspired me to visit there a few weeks ago!

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    May 21, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    Beautiful flowering cacti. The grottoes add a different dimension to this National Park.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2007 at 3:14 PM

    Anne, What a beautiful park this is; no wonder Texas is proud. The caves look mysterious and fascinating. Your step-by-step directions are grand. Excellent photographs.

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    Jan 5, 2006 at 5:16 PM

    Excellent tip...watch out for rattlesnakes! Great page and photos. This is a beautiful area.

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2004 at 9:40 AM

    My short time was spent walking the Guad Peak trail. Thanks for showing me the res of this great Park;-] Did wander across some of those big rattlers lazily slinking across the trails.

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2004 at 10:02 PM

    This is a great area that I would love to see. Excellent tips and directions. Great detailed information. Good warnings too. Wonderful page, very useful.

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2003 at 12:01 AM

    realy special with exeptional text and photography, I enjoyed reading. thanx Ann

  • aliante1981's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2003 at 3:36 PM

    Congratulations on good page start! I really liked it, especially the cactus picture:))


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