Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Salt Flat

Texas Mountain Trail/Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Texas Historical Commission
Written By Texas Historical Commission

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Stand at the top of Texas on 8,749-foot Guadalupe Peak. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to seven of Texas’ eight highest peaks, including the dramatic sheer cliffs of El Capitan (8,085 feet). Opened in 1972, the 86,000-acre park offers camping, backpacking and 85 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. Hidden within the mountains’ outer desert slopes lie fragile natural springs and a conifer forest of pine and fir in the high elevations.

Stand at the peak of Texas in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
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Elk, bear and mountain lions roam the high country. Fall foliage spills brilliant colors across McKittrick Canyon, the site of the 1930s wood-and-stone Pratt cabin, which boasts a rare flagstone roof. Movement in the earth’s crust helped form the Guadalupe Mountains and also exposed sections of Capitan Reef, the world’s largest Permian limestone fossil reef. Remnants of the 400-mile, horseshoe-shaped reef surface here and in the Apache and Glass mountains. Bands of Mescalero Apaches used the Guadalupe Mountains for refuge and to gather food for survival in the harsh environment.

Mid-19th-century stagecoaches stopped at the Pinery, the highest layover on the Butterfield Overland Mail route, the nation’s first transcontinental mail route. The 1880s Frijole Ranch features a stone ranch house with interpretive exhibits and a springhouse supplied by the still-flowing Frijole Spring. Accessible via four-wheel-drive vehicles, the 1908 Williams Ranch offers panoramic views where ranchers once herded goats and longhorns. Dioramas and exhibits in the park’s visitors center illustrate the park’s incredible geological history and various ecosystems.

Cover Photo by The Old Texan via Flickr

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