Hi from: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Steele and I were making our way home from Southern California when I learned we had a bit more time to make our drive home. We were leaving the Gila National Forest when I found this out, and I originally wanted to make the drive to White Sands National Monument. However, I quickly realized that with stopping for lunch and the rest of the drive that was left we wouldn't make the cut off time of the backcountry camping permit. So, camping on the sand dunes will stay on the bucket list for now.

With that decision made, I started looking at national parks and forests within a 6-hour drive time. It came down to Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains, and by the title of the post - Guadalupe was the winner! It had a shorter drive time, camping cost less, and it seemed to be the quieter of the two parks (which I was hoping for as I was starting not to feel 100%).

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Yall. This maybe my favorite not talked about national park!

As you can see from the map, there's only a few places that vehicles can go within the park and a lot of the park is Wilderness Area. For me, that's awesome! I love Wilderness Areas and human powered adventures. Know though, if hiking is not your thing -the scenery is beautiful, the campground peaceful, and there are shorter hikes that can occupy your time. This, however, is not Yosemite where you could stay inside all day somewhere (your room or car).

So here's my beta and photos from our less than 24 hours there:

*Camping at Pine Springs: $8 per campsite with 20 tent sites and 20 RV/car camping spots each. The tent sites are a mixture of walk-in, park in front of, and ADA accessible. They are all the same price. We got campsite 20 (and I would say maybe 5 campsites were in use) and it was a park in front of with maybe a 30 foot walk from parking spot to tent pad (yay)! Campsites #1, 5, and 6 looked to be the longest walks from the map at the self registration map. The camping is described as primitive but had a lot of amenities - including flush toilets, dish washing stations, potable water, and the trailhead of four main hikes right across the RV lot. It actually reminded me of the Smith Rock campground, minus showers. Be aware that the campground is just a couple turns off the main highway and you will be able to hear the traffic. Personally, there was not enough noise to bother me and I'm a pretty light sleeper.

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*Visitor Center: Steele LOVED this visitor center - there were taxidermied animals everywhere. There is also free WIFI available at the center, and an interpretive trail right out of the door. The Visitor Center can be reached by foot from the campground if you are staying for a few days and want to visit.

*Hiking: The hiking opportunities here could fill a full stay, especially if you decided to backcountry camp (which I will do next time we visit). Free backcountry permits can be completed at the visitor center, with a general $5 park admission charge (or an annual parks pass). {Tangent: I love our annual pass - for $80 (right now) you purchase a pass that will get you (and your car's passengers) into any federal land (BLM, USFW, USFS, NPS) for one year.}

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Since we only had the remaining morning and early afternoon to hike, I choose Smith Springs. It was a 2.3 mile loop trail that went past two springs (Manzanita & Smith). The limestone walls looming over Smith Springs were beautiful and huge!

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The bench at Smith Springs! Perfectly shaded for a quick break!

The bench at Smith Springs! Perfectly shaded for a quick break!

In fact, there were huge walls everywhere including the park's own El Capitan. As a climber, there were areas that the rock quality looked very much climbable, but this is what I can find on climbing there (from the park's FAQ):

"Is there any technical climbing in the park?Technical climbing is rarely done in the park. It is not considered safe due to the limestone composition of rock. The best place for rock climbing or bouldering is at Hueco Tanks State Park, just east of El Paso, Texas."

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Our stay in Guadalupe Mountains was quick, but awesome! We will definitely be back. 

Have you ever been there? If so, what were your favorite trails or parts of the park?

El Capitan

El Capitan

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find a couple short videos from our experience over on my twitter: @ztasam