Guadalupe Mountains

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the country, mainly due to its remote location. However, with breathtaking views from every angle (the base of the park, the trails, the peaks, or looking up at the range from any direction in the valley below), many consider this area to be the one of most beautiful landscapes in all of Texas. 


Part of a 260-million-year-old fossil reef that formed when this part of Texas was underwater, the mountains in the park were created from a large uplift that rose from the ancient sea. El Capitan, the impossible-to-miss icon of the area, is the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet.


Although the best parts of the park require a bit more effort than other parts, they are well worth it. There is an abundance of hiking trails, varying in difficulty, all over the park. With 4 of the highest peaks in Texas, there are also several very impressive lookout spots.


Most of the area’s most dramatic attractions are in the park. However, there are a few interesting spots, as well as all the dining and hotel options, along the highway back to El Paso.

What To Do

Pine Springs Visitor Center


As the main entrance to the park and just off the highway, the newly-remodeled visitor’s center is the best (and only) place to get information about the Guadalupes and the surrounding area.




This probably requires a much larger section of the site, but in short, Guadalupe Mountains National Park has no shortage of hiking trails. Described many people as a “hiker’s paradise”, there are 80 miles of trails, varying in difficulty from short easy hikes up from the main parking area to very technical (difficult) hikes all the way up to Guadalupe Peak (El Capitan). A few hikes worth pointing out:


  • Pinery Trail – this short <1 mile path starts at the Visitor Central and goes to the old Pinery Station. Trail is rated as “easy” for all hikers, is paved, and is wheelchair accessible.


  • McKittrick Canyon – the most popular trail, starting from the park basin, extends into the park and gets progressively more challenging as you ascend the hills. The trail has something for everyone, with McKittrick Creek running along the first parts of the trail and changing vegetation (desert to mountain) as you go further out.


  • Guadalupe Peak – this trail runs 8.4 miles, with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The trail is more dramatic, but considerably more difficult, than most other trails in the park. Rated as “moderate to difficult” for experienced hikers, it is wise to do your research in advance, be mindful of the weather/wind situation, and bring a lot of water.


  • The North Side – as you research the park you will likely hear about Dog Canyon. This area of the park is quite scenic and secluded, with several trails, campgrounds, and a small hotel/restaurant. However, it is accessible only from the back (north side) of the park and is about an hour and a half drive around the park through New Mexico.



Williams Ranch


This is a rugged, (extremely) unimproved 7 mile “road” from the Pine Springs station up into the base of a 3000-foot rock cliff. You must have a 4x4 vehicle with high clearance, and ideally one you don’t mind getting scratched up. If you have said vehicle, and get approval and a key from the park staff, the trek is most impressive. It passes over the old Butterfield Trail stagecoach route and ends up at the Williams Ranch house.


Frijole Ranch


The site of a preserved homestead, a cultural center, and trailhead for a loop hike to two different springs, this is part of an old ranch dating back to the 1870’s.


El Capitan Lookout


If you are looking for a quick place to stop without having to go into the park, there are highway rest stops (picnic tables only) on both sides of the highway with amazing views of both El Capitan and the valley below.


Dell City


About 45 minutes away from the park, and located off the highway back to El Paso, lies the small farming community of Dell City. Given the surprising amount of underground water reserves in the area, there is an abundance of interesting wildlife in the area and several large farms. As far as the town goes, there isn’t much left in Dell City; but it is a quaint old town with friendly people and great views of the Guadalupe Mountains. If you are looking for lodging or gas near the park without going all the way to El Paso, Dell City is the place.

Where to Stay

Since there are only very small towns in this area, the accommodations are few and far between. That said, there are a few great AirBnB spots in Dell City and some fantastic camping in the base of the Guadalupes.


Dell City


There are a few great AirBnB options inside Dell City. These options are well-maintained, well-managed, and most have great views of the Guadalupe Mountains across the Salt Flats, particularly around sunset.



Pine Springs Campground


Located just off the highway and right before several trailheads, the Ping Springs Campground is a great spot for primitive tent camping. There are a total of 20 campsites, each with picnic tables and potable water. All sites are first come first serve – no reservations taken.


Dog Canyon Campground


If you don’t mind the drive to the back (north) side of the park in New Mexico, Dog Canyon is considerably more quiet and secluded than Pine Springs. There are a total of 9 tent sites and 4 RV sites. First come first serve, and like Pine Springs, fires are not permitted.


Where to Eat

There are only a handful of restaurants in the entire region, hours are limited, and nothing is open past 5. It’s strongly advised to plan ahead, and in most cases, pack your food. The only sit-down restaurants are in Dell City on the highway back to El Paso.


Cornudas Café


Since the late 1940’s May’s Cornudas Café has been serving surprisingly good food to highway travelers. It is located directly on the Carlsbad Highway (62/180) between El Paso and the Guadalupes. It changed ownership several times between 2005 and 2020. The original owner's grandson bought it in 2020 and did a full remodel. At time of publishing, open daily from 7 to 5 (Mountain Time).


Spanish Angel’s Café


Not an extensive menu, and definitely not a fancy place, but the Mexican food is surprisingly good considering you are literally in the middle of nowhere. Check Google for the hours. At time of publication, they were only open for breakfast and lunch.