Guadalupe Peak, TX

Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, far western Texas

Summit elevation:  8,751 ft (2,667 m)
Distance: 8.4 miles (13.5 km) round trip
Elevation gain: 2,950 ft (899 m)
Class: 1
Date: November 4-5, 2011

Guadalupe Peak at left from the backcountry campground

Guadalupe Peak at 8,751 feet is the highest point in Texas and located in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in far west Texas just south of the New Mexico border and about 100 miles east of El Paso.  Guadalupe Peak sits at the southern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains, which is an exposed ancient limestone reef, which has led to the formation of the 116 known caves just to the north in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Hunter Peak at right from the Guadalupe Peak trail

The Guadalupe Peak trail begins at the trailhead by the Pine Springs campground and steadily gains elevation for all 4.2 miles to the summit.  Water is available at the trailhead, and it is important that you take at least one gallon per person per day with you from this point as there is no water along the trial.  The park is in the Chihuahuan Desert, so conditions are very dry, windy, and depending on the season, hot.

Guadalupe Peak from the backcountry campground

While Guadalupe Peak can easily be done as a day hike, there is a backcountry campground on a ridge at 8,150 feet 3.2 miles from the trailhead and one mile from the summit.  There is a three night stay limit at this campground, but even staying this long can be difficult because of the amount of water you would have to carry in.

Sunset from Guadalupe Peak

I left the trailhead around 2:30 pm and reached the backcountry campground around 5:00 pm.  After setting up camp and eating some food, I hiked up the last mile to the summit in 20 minutes just in time to see the sunset from the top.  A large metal pyramid serves as a monument at the high point and views can be wide-ranging depending on how much dust is in the air. It was completely dark by the time I returned to the campground, and as the night progressed the wind steadily picked up although it had been calm at the summit.  While the individual campsites are somewhat sheltered from the wind, the noise from wind blowing through the trees was enough to wake me up regularly.

The high point monument

I woke up around 7:00 the next morning in time to see sunrise, which was not as remotely spectacular as sunset was.  The temperature over the night was warmer than I had expected, probably in the upper 40s.  The winds continued to pick up as I hiked back to the trailhead, and by the time I left the park in the afternoon they were gusting at 65 miles per hour in the valley.  After a break I hiked to Devil's Hall.

Guadalupe Mountains from the backcountry campground

As you ascend the Guadalupe Mountains you will encounter that are very uncharacteristic of the Chihuahuan Desert including Ponderosa pines and Douglass firs.  The high elevations even have a small elk herd in addition to mountain lions and rare black bears.

El Capitan from Guadalupe Peak

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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