Destination: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Map: Park Map
Dates of hiking: October 30 – November 3 2019
HikeCampHikers: Bettina, Kelly, Suzanne, Maria
Wednesday, October 30 – we took off at 6:45 pm and got to Ozona at 10:30 (Holiday Express)
Thursday, October 31 – cold and sunny day, on to Fort Stockton and Pecos – a punctured tire that could not be patched and required a detour to Odessa. We go back on the road around 3 pm and drove via Van Horn to Pine Springs Campground. We miraculously got there before it got dark and claimed one of the last campsites. We were able to set up our three tents which barely fit. The campground is well designed with beautiful views of the mountains and nice bathrooms.
Friday, November 1 – Following a night with very heavy winds, the ranger predicted gusts up to 50 mph for the following night so we decided to spend the night indoors at White’s City Cavern Inn located at the entrance to Carlsbad Cavern. After making sleeping arrangements over the phone and breaking down camp, we left to hike to the top of Guadalupe Mountain – the highest peak in Texas at 8751 feet. It was a great hike, beautiful weather (but windy), amazing views. Then on to White’s City to check in. We had dinner and drinks at the brewery in Carlsbad.
Saturday, November 2 – we got up early and arrived at Carlsbad Cavern NP around 8. Hardly anyone else there. We opted to hike down into the caverns rather than ride the elevator. It was an impressive experience! Unfortunately, we got to Pine Springs Campsite a little too late (at 11:30 am) and all sites were taken!! No other options except hiking in the backcountry for 4 hours and camp there. We decided against that because we had to get home the next day and it would take us a while to break down camp, hike out and then drive all the way back to Austin. We opted to hike up McKittrick Canyon with amazing fall foliage. We met a VIP (Volunteers in Parks) named Doug who really inspired us to go backpacking in the Guadalupe Mountains next time we make there. He claims there is water to be found in the backcountry which is a challenge in GMNP. We drove to Van Horn and stayed in the B.A.S.I.C. We had dinner and drinks at “El Capitan”.
Sunday, November 3 – pretty easy drive back with lunch stop in Fredericksburg for street tacos. Got back to Austin at 4.
Guadalupe MNP is beautiful and remote which is what makes it so magical. It is important to note that you cannot reserve a campsite (in the campground, nor primitive) in advance. It is first come-first serve and there are 20 sites in the campground. There is some public (BLM land) where you can camp if the park is full but that felt like a scene from a Breaking Bad episode.
We highly advise to NOT go through Pecos to get to Guadalupe Mountains NP. It is a much prettier drive to go through Van Horn, and safer as the traffic from fracking operations around Pecos is very disconcerting to drive through.