Guadalupe Mountains National Park

1:18 p.m. on August 30, 2014 (EDT)
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I've been wanting to hike the Texas state highpoint and I did just that this past Wednesday and Thursday.  Not only is the the state highpoint, it's also the highpoint of the park itself and of Culberson county.

The Guadalupe Mountains is the remains of a horseshoe shaped, 400 mile long marine fossil reef which formed 260 to 270 million years ago.  Much of it is buried except for 3 areas in which erosion has exposed the reef, one of which is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  

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I car camped in the well maintained tent camping area in a standard national parks' service campsite.  Here's the view from the tent:


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I took a short hike to an area known as the Devil's Hall that first afternoon:


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Starting out


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Views along the way


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The Hikers' Staircase


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Looking back towards Hunter Peak


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Getting closer


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Devil's Hall

The following day, Thursday, I started the hike for Guadalupe Peak before sunrise by headlamp.  The photos will be in reverse order starting from the summit and returning to the trailhead:


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Hero summit pic


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Summit marker and the mountain's shadow below.  The marker was donated by American Airlines in 1950 and it was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Butterfield stage route.  


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Summit register


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El Capitan and the desert floor below


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After 45 minutes, I started the hike down and this is the last look at the summit marker 


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View of the trail just below the summit


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There's a tiny bit of exposure to the hiker's right


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A switchback, one of about 30


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Looking towards Hunter Peak and another switchback


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Crossing the highest bridge in Texas


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Looking back


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This little path off the main trail will take you to a backcountry camp area.  There is no water source so water must be carried in.  Not much shelter from the winds.


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Looking back towards the backcountry area

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The Tejas trail as seen from across the valley.  The trail takes you to Hunter Peak.


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One more view of Hunter


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Nothing like log steps and switchbacks for gaining vert!


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That's a switchback 


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About 50 yards of good exposure coming up.  Don't want to roll the ankle or slip here.


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Looking back.  Sheer drop of about 200-250 ft.


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Did someone say switchbacks?!


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Nice looking set of steps to get the heart rate up


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I was running on this part of the trail


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The end!

1:07 a.m. on September 1, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow!  Fabulous shots, and each so different from the last.  A real treat from my usual point-of-view here on the Gulf Coast.  Makes me wanna make the trip, though!  Thanks for taking the time to share with us.

5:51 a.m. on September 1, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks Bunion,  another one to check out is Big Bend National Park also.  I plan on hitting that one sometime next year.  Big Bend covers a larger region and it is noted for it's backpacking opportunities in the Chisos Mountains.

10:29 a.m. on September 1, 2014 (EDT)
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I love seeing trip reports from places I know so little about.

Thanks for sharing and showing me something new.

2:05 p.m. on September 1, 2014 (EDT)
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West Texas is the best part of the state. I have had some interesting backpacking experiences at Big Bend in winter hiking cross country to the next water hole.

I had plans to paddle the Rio Grande once in February but the weather turned really cold with blowing snow and we cancelled. It is an interesting part of the world and relates more to New Mexico geologically than the rest of Tejas.

2:37 p.m. on September 1, 2014 (EDT)
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Yes ppine that's for certain. No one ever relates Texas with mountains and certainly not snowy conditions but it happens more often than not, especially in the northern and western regions of the state. The Texas panhandle region is like an entirely different state. It can get brutally cold and windy with lots of snow.

6:43 p.m. on September 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Great photos! What a slick looking summit marker!

7:15 p.m. on September 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Rob that was really cool and I echo the others....thanks for showing a place that is new to me!

8:22 a.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Beautiful area.  Thanks for sharing the photos.

8:50 a.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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I've never hiked in Texas, so thanks for sharing this, Rob.

I admit it looked steeper and even higher than I might have imagined. Cool mountains!

I think that's the fanciest summit marker I've ever seen.

11:43 p.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Very nice review. I live in the Big Bend region of west Texas, south of the Guadalupe Mountains, and I've hiked this trail before. You touched on the wind, but let me emphasize that the wind blows here constantly, very regularly topping 100 mph. I was on top one night when the wind was recorded at approx. 120 mph. Be prepared. Thanks for the review. 

I would also like to mention that the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park reach a height of over 7000' and the views from the south rim across the desert into Mexico are stunning, and usually you are dealing with much friendlier weather conditions.

5:58 a.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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See my review of the Kelty Acadia tent for Guadalupe Mts. in January.  

7:38 a.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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Alcap said:

See my review of the Kelty Acadia tent for Guadalupe Mts. in January.  

 Glorious snow!!!  Texas weather is mind boggling sometimes.

Bob Freeman, I suppose the Guadalupes could be regarded as the Mount Washington of the southwest in regards to the wind.  The wind is constant and sometimes hurricane force especially during the spring.  Fortunately, on my hike, the winds were calm and even at the summit it never exceeded 15mph.  

One other thing I forgot to mention I saw three other lone hikers on my way down.  One was a 60ish year of age hiker and he was on his 39th state highpoint.  He said he was climbing all the far western highpoints.   

8:52 a.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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Love The Peak! A great post and some really nice pics. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

12:05 p.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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I have hiked most of the trails in GMNP and it is one of my favorite places, although the wind can blow as others have attested. I am hoping to hike Guadalupe Ridge to Carlsbad next year. That hike is logistically challenging for caching water, but worth it.

1:13 p.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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The desert southwest has so much to offer. Thanks for the great trip report. I will be back in the Sonoran Desert around Tucson this winter. I always look forward to the diversity of biological wildlife. Some year maybe next spring I want to pedal to Texas as see its many areas like the Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend.

4:39 p.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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Great pics! My buddy from Texas wants me to come down and do this with him someday.

6:34 p.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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Voyage, have to ever accessed the park from the northern canyon? I hear it's remote and sees very little use. There's only one road to it and it has to be accessed from NM.

Gary, I think you would like the scenery in west Texas but public lands are scarce. You would have to do some research on camping options or do the "stealth camping" thing!

Goose, El Paso is only 130 miles west of the park and they have an international airport. I think you would find it quite enjoyable. The park only sees significant visits during national holidays and even then, it's not nearly busy as more popular national parks.

10:27 a.m. on September 5, 2014 (EDT)
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My friend in Midland, TX wants me to come out and do it with him.

11:57 p.m. on September 8, 2014 (EDT)
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Looks like a place I need to explore!

10:48 p.m. on September 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Rob - I drove the back way into Dog Canyon last January from 62 to Dell City and on to Dog Canyon.   Gravel roads that were rough but OK if you have reasonably high clearance.  I  hiked up to Lost Peak and cached a gallon of water where Tejas and McKittrick trails meet.  The next day, I headed up the Bush Mtn trail and camped at Blue Ridge.  Next day, to McKittrick Ridge Camp, then back to DC the following day.  There is lots to explore from that side and I was the only person in the campground most of the time.  Of course, it was cold, being January and all.

9:28 a.m. on September 12, 2014 (EDT)
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Voyage Thirty-four said:

Rob - I drove the back way into Dog Canyon last January from 62 to Dell City and on to Dog Canyon.   Gravel roads that were rough but OK if you have reasonably high clearance.  I  hiked up to Lost Peak and cached a gallon of water where Tejas and McKittrick trails meet.  The next day, I headed up the Bush Mtn trail and camped at Blue Ridge.  Next day, to McKittrick Ridge Camp, then back to DC the following day.  There is lots to explore from that side and I was the only person in the campground most of the time.  Of course, it was cold, being January and all.

 Voyage, thanks for the beta.  I like going to areas that see very few, if any, people and little use.  I have an FJ Cruiser and it has been on some rugged trails.  That northern area of the park is someplace I would like to explore.  I was thinking of setting up a base camp at the ranger station and then day hiking the nearby trails.  Thanks again.  

1:56 p.m. on September 13, 2014 (EDT)
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That was fantastic! Great to hear about another place I'd love to check out. Thanks for sharing.

1:03 p.m. on September 15, 2014 (EDT)
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How cool, Rob! Thanks for sharing. I never would have thought Texas had mountains that amazing!

1:01 p.m. on September 16, 2014 (EDT)
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Dog Canyon is an excellent spot for a basecamp for day hiking and short backpacking trips.  They have great tent spots - I was in a camper van and those spots are not so nice, but since no one was around, I parked in the tent campers lot.  The ranger was very helpful as well.

When I left, I took the paved roads which eventually brought me back to 62.  However, there are some gravel roads into Lincoln National Forest which offer great hiking and camping opportunities along the way.

9:31 a.m. on September 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Have to make it out there sometime.

June 25, 2019
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