Corbitt's National Parks
     Guadalupe Mountains
               National Park


1966: National Park

Size: 86,416 acres

2008 visitors: 163,709

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

This Park, located in western Texas, comprises dramatic desert and mountain scenery, as well as the largest exposed fossil reef on earth. The Guadalupe Mountains began to form nearly 250 million years ago, when the entire area was covered by the sea. A reef grew from little animals that secreted lime and precipitates. By the end of the Permian period, the reef had died, and layers of sediment buried the entire area. Millions of years later, the earth uplifted, raising the region several thousand feet, allowing today's mountain range to be shaped by wind and water erosion.

During recorded history, a variety of people have passed through this dry land. Groups of hunger-gatherers, including the Mescalero Apache, have made this their home. Later, Spanish Conquistadores passed by as they explored Mexico and regions to the north. Military surveyors mapped the pass, and that map was used by settlers and gold hunters headed west to make their fortune. The routs was also used by the Butterfield Overland Mail in the late 1850s (see Fort Bowie National Monument).

What You're Going to See

Guadalupe Mountains National Park has 80 miles of hiking trails, and since no road crosses the mountains, backcountry hiking is a major activity. McKittrick Canyon Visitor Center is a trailhead for the spectacular epynomous canyon, and also offers exhibits on the canyon and the Permian Reef. Guadalupe contains more than 1,000 plant species, 296 bird species, 58 mammal species, 56 reptile and amphibian species, and many archaeological sites. It's also home to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet.

The main Visitor Center at Pine Springs offers exhibits, audiovisual programs, maps, and a bookstore. Frijole Ranch is 1.5 miles north of Pine Springs and features information on Spanish exploration, Native Americans, the U.S. Cavalry, the Overland Mail, and ranching activities. Visitors can also get a permit to see Williams Ranch Historic Site, although a four-wheel drive vehicle is required.

Other activities include camping, bird-watching, picnicking, hiking, and observing wildlife.

Personal Observations

Someday, when I have my MiniWinnie ...

Getting There

From El Paso, take US 62/180 east for 104 miles to Pine Springs and the Park entrance.

From Odessa, take I-20 west for 116 miles to the junction of I-10. Take I-10 west for another 47 miles to Highway 54, and go north on that for 58 miles to Pine Springs and the Park entrance.

Nearby Attractions

Fort Davis National Historical Site is about 100 miles to the southeast. In New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is 30 miles northeast, White Sands National Monument is about 100 miles to the northwest, and Chamizal National Memorial is 80 miles west in El Paso.

Not visited yet.