HC 60 Box 400
Salt Flat, TX 79847-9400
Guadalupe Mountains National Park encompasses a diverse array of landscapes, from the stark Chihuahuan Desert to lush coniferous forests. Located in western Texas, about 85 miles east of El Paso, the park offers numerous scenic hiking trails that let you get up close and personal with the natural beauty of this ancient coral reef.
Entrance fees: $3/individual for seven days
Visitor center: Headquarters Visitor Center is open daily except December 25.
Other services: Two visitor centers, ranger station, and two campgrounds, as well as several backcountry campgrounds
Accommodations: Dog Canyon Campground and Pine Springs Campground are open year-round and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
The dry flatlands of the Chihuahuan Desert -- a vast, barren stretch of cactus and greasewood that extends for hundreds of miles across West Texas and south into Mexico -- seem an unlikely place to find an ocean reef. But here, hundreds of miles from the nearest saltwater, an immense escarpment of orange and red limestone that was once on the bottom of a sea glistens in the bright sunlight.
The Guadalupe Mountains, a V-shaped range with its northern arm extending into New Mexico and its southern arm pointing toward Mexico, rise more than a mile above the desert. Visible for nearly 50 miles, a great monolithic rock called El Capitan, which in Spanish means "the chief," rises audaciously at the point of the V. For centuries it has been a landmark for travelers crossing this vast desert.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park encompasses the four highest points in Texas (up to 8,749 feet) and is located in the extreme western point of the Lone Star State, near the historic border town of El Paso. This park is a national park of extremes, from the Chihuahuan Desert at lower elevations, which includes such plant species as New Mexico agave and prickly pear cactus, to the thick forests of ponderosa pine, limber pine, and Douglas fir that darkly cover the higher peaks.
You can drive through this park or travel by horseback, but the best way to explore the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is by foot, using the park's many scenic trails. Learn more about hiking in the Guadalupe Mountains on the next page.