Known as a land of vast desert and open space, not many people think of towering mountains when they think of far West Texas, but tucked away in the corner of the desert sits Guadalupe Peak, the tallest point in the entire state. From the summit of Guadalupe Peak, you can see for miles in every direction, while savoring the feeling of accomplishment you will have from climbing to the highest point in Texas! The Guadalupe Peak trail is tough, but it is easily one of our favorite hikes in the area. In this article, we have included all the information you need to complete the Guadalupe Peak trail! If you are up for an adventure, then keep reading!

Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!


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Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Located in West Texas on the border with New Mexico, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is rugged, remote, and rarely visited. In fact, it is one of the least visited national parks, welcoming under 200,000 annual visitors each year. But those who make the trip out to the West Texas desert are rewarded with over 80 miles of hiking trails, few fellow hikers, and some of the best views in Texas.

Established as a national park in 1972, Guadalupe Mountains National Park covers 135 square miles, including Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet!

History of the Guadalupe Mountains

The Guadalupe Mountains are a subsection of the larger Sacramento Mountain Range, which are part of the Capitan Reef spanning a massive swath of far west Texas and southern New Mexico. The Reef formed under a large tropical ocean some 250 million years ago, when all of earth’s landmass was concentrated in one continent, Pangea.

Today, you can still see the remnants of this ocean and the underlying Capitan Reef, as Guadalupe National Park is one of the largest Permian fossil reefs in the world and the towering El Capitan, on the western side or the park, is the most visible remaining section of the previously underwater world.

More recently, archaeological evidence has shown the area was home to hunter-gatherers, who lived among the mountains more than 10,000 years ago. Mescalero Apaches occupied the region until the mid-19th century, when American settlers started passing through the area. There are a number of historical archaeologic sites throughout the park including old cabins, lodges, and agave roasting pits constructed by the Mescalero Apaches.

About Guadalupe Peak Trail

There is no doubt that the most popular attraction in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the hike to Guadalupe Peak, the tallest mountain in Texas. This 8.4 mile hike climbs just under 3,000 feet and is no easy feat!

But those who reach the summit are rewarded with breath-taking, 360-degree views over the Chihuahuan Desert, El Capitan, and the surrounding Guadalupe Mountains. It just might be the best view in all of Texas!

While the Guadalupe Peak trail is not technical, it is very steep and you should only attempt the hike if you are physically fit.

Hike Overview | Guadalupe Peak Trail

Hike Stats

  • Hiking distance | 8.4 miles
  • Elevation gain | 2,950
  • Total time | 6-7 hours
  • Epic-ness rating | 8
  • Difficulty | Hard
  • Trailhead | Pine Springs Trailhead (paved and accessible with any vehicle)

Find this hike on AllTrails: Guadalupe Peak Texas Highpoint Trail

How difficult is the Guadalupe Peak Trail?

The Guadalupe Peak trail is definitely a challenge, mainly due to the large elevation gain. That being said, the trail is just 8.4 miles, while it’s steep, the trail is not super long. There are a few sections where the trail gets narrow, but there is no scrambling and we found the trail to be in good shape, easy to follow, and well-maintained.

Of course, the Guadalupe Peak trail’s difficulty depends largely on your experience and fitness level. If you read the reviews on AllTrails some people describe it as extremely difficult while others seem unfazed by the effort. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Is this the hardest hike in the world? No, of course not, but it will definitely get you heart rate up and your legs burning.

Highlights

  • Absolutely amazing views from the peak
  • You can say you’ve climbed to the tallest point in Texas
  • Views along the hike are great too

Lowlights

  • Strenuous, steep climb to the top
  • Quickly changing and unpredictable weather
  • Very windy at the peak
Monument at the top of the Guadalupe Peak Trail summit

When is the best time to hike the Guadalupe Peak Trail?

The best time to hike the Guadalupe Peak trail is during the spring and fall when there is a lower chance of rain and temperatures are more reasonable. From February through April and October through November, you are more likely to find sunshine and daily temperatures in the 50 to 60-degree range.

The summer months will be very hot, with daily temperatures in the upper 80s and limited shade. You could hike the Guadalupe Peak trail in the winter if you get a good weather window, but there is a chance of freezing temperatures.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is windy! I’m not talking about the occasional blustery day, but consistent, strong gusts more than 50 miles per hour. We’d recommend checking with a ranger at the Visitor’s Center before you start the hike to get the most recent conditions, especially if you plan to backpack.

We had plans to spend the night in the backcountry near the peak when we visited in early February, but the ranger warned us about nighttime air temperatures in the single digits and wind gusts close to 70 miles per hour, creating a windchill temperature below zero!

Tips for a great hike

Below are a few tips to help you have the best experience hiking Guadalupe Peak:

  • Check the weather: Weather in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is highly variable and can change quickly. Be sure to watch the weather before heading to the park and check in with a park ranger to get the most up-to-date conditions.
  • Bring layers: Because the weather can change so quickly and it will likely be very windy, pack layers and a windbreaker or rain jacket to keep you warm when you take a break, reach the summit, or in case the weather changes.
  • Start early: The hike to Guadalupe Peak will take most of your day. Start early to avoid some of the trail traffic and make sure you get back to your car with time to spare.
  • Bring plenty of water: Even in lower temperatures, make sure you bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated. There is very little shade on the trail.
  • Fill up before you drive to the trailhead: There are no services, gas stations, or stores anywhere near the park. Make sure you bring everything you need and fill up the gas tank before departing.
  • Leave your dog at home: Dogs are not allowed on the Guadalupe Peak trail.
  • Entrance fees: entrance to Guadalupe Mountains National Park costs $25 per vehicle, good for 7 days. Alternatively, you can purchase an $80 America the Beautiful Pass, which gives you access to all U.S. National Parks for one year.

Remember to Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on trail, be well-prepared, leave nothing behind, take only photos and memories with you, treat the area with respect and help preserve this beautiful spot for generations to come.

view of Guadalupe Peak from Hunter's Peak Trail
view from Hunter’s Peak, with the towering Guadalupe Peak in the distance

Where to stay near Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Because Guadalupe Mountains National Park is so remote, services in the area are non-existent. The closest major city to the park is El Paso, which is 110 miles west. Carlsbad, New Mexico, home to Carlsbad Cavern National Park, is 56 miles northeast and offers some hotel/lodging options, gas stations and convenience stores.

The only place to stay near the trailhead is the Pine Springs Campground, which is open year round. It has 20 tent and 13 RV sites available, each costing $20 per night. All sites are reservable on recreation.gov.

Packing List for Guadalupe Peak Trail

Below are a few items we recommend making sure you pack for the Guadalupe Peak hike:

snow covers the rolling hills seen from the summit of the Guadalupe Peak Trail

Hike Details | Guadalupe Peak Trail

In the following section, we’ll tell you all about the Guadalupe Peak Trail so you know what to expect! 

Our experience

We hiked the Guadalupe Peak trail in February 2022 and arrived at the park right when the visitor’s center opens at 8:00 AM, with the intention of picking up a backpacking permit. However, the ranger convinced us to just do a day hike due to high winds and sub-zero nighttime temperatures.

We started hiking around 9:00 AM and were hoping to complete the Guadalupe Peak Trail with some time to add on a detour to Devil’s Hall, a nearby trail. We ended up running out of daylight and didn’t get all the way to Devil’s Hall (but returned later to do it as a day hike).

We should note that we were really taking our time on the Guadalupe Peak Trail and didn’t manage our time wisely! It’s certainly possible to complete both Guadalupe Peak and Devil’s Hall in one day as long as you start early.

Monument at the Guadalupe Peak summit, marking the tallest point in Texas

Parking and getting to the trailhead

The trailhead for the Guadalupe Peak Trail is located off Highway 62, near the Pine Springs Visitor Center. After turning off the highway, the visitor center will be to your right. Continue straight past the visitor center and Pine Springs Campground, until you reach the large parking lot at the end of the road. The trail begins from the western side of this parking lot.

The parking lot at the trailhead is fairly large and we never saw it full. That being said, we visited the park in January and February so crowds were probably smaller than in warmer months. There is a restroom available at the trailhead.

Cactus along the Guadalupe Peak Trail

Getting Started

The trail starts from the base of Guadalupe Peak, slowly snaking its way up the eastern side of the mountain. You can see the peak from the trailhead, which is both intimidating and inspiring. The first mile and a half is probably the steepest section of the hike as you work through a series of switchbacks surrounded by low-lying desert shrubs.

After about 1.5 miles, you will reach the end of a long switchback and start heading more directly east along a ridge. As you get higher, the vegetation will change and you will be surrounded by ponderosa pine trees and more of a forest environment.

This diversity of vegetation is one of the coolest parts of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. At lower elevation, you will hike through a desert habitat with few trees but as you get higher, the landscape becomes more forested, creating a completely different experience!

Hiking through the snow along the Guadalupe Peak Trail

Guadalupe Peak Backcountry Campground

You will soon reach a series of short switchbacks that bring you higher on a ridge, where the trail will flatten out for bit. This flatter (although not entirely flat) section begins around 3 miles into the hike.

At 3.3 miles, you will reach an intersection that leads to the Guadalupe Peak Backcountry Campground, which sits on a ridge off to the right. At this point, you are just about 1 mile and 700 feet of elevation gain from the tallest point in Texas!

rolling mountain views from the trail to Guadalupe Peak

The final push

After passing the campground, you are in the final push! The trail continues straight for a bit before reaching another series of short switchbacks. The trees become more sparse until there is barely any vegetation remaining.

This final section is probably the most exposed section of the trail, as the path gets narrow with a steep drop-off in a few places. Make sure you take your time and take in the beautiful views as you climb!

the final push to the Guadalupe Peak summit
the trail leads along a sharp drop-off on the final push to the Guadalupe Peak summit
the last mile of the hike to Guadalupe Peak, the tallest point in Texas

Summit of Guadalupe Peak

Soon enough, you will reach the summit of Guadalupe Peak! As you stand there atop the rocks and rubble, the wind whipping in all directions, take a moment to acknowledge the fact that at that very moment, you are the highest person in Texas!

To the south, you will see the top of El Capitan and the vast, open Chihuahuan Desert stretching out for as far as the eye can see. To the north, you will get a view of the rest of the Guadalupe Mountains, including Hunter Peak (8,258 feet), Shumard Peak (8,600 feet), Bartlett Peak (8,498), and Bush Mountain (8,616).

The summit of Guadalupe Peak is actually quite large with plenty of space to enjoy lunch or a snack. That being said, it will be very windy and likely quite cold, depending on the time of year. We found a little ledge that blocked the wind while we ate lunch.

What is that weird pyramid thing at the summit? The monument at the top of Guadalupe Peak was erected in 1958 by American Airlines to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Butterfield Overland stagecoach route that passed just south of the mountain. There are three logos on the monument – the American Airlines logo, the USPS logo in a tribute to the Pony Express Riders, and the Boys Scouts of America logo.

Monument at the Guadalupe Peak summit, marking the tallest point in Texas

The return hike

After you have taken in all the views or been blown off the mountain by the wind, it is time to return back to the trailhead. The fastest way to get back to the trailhead is by following the same trail you climbed to reach the top of Guadalupe Mountain.

Alternate return hike to Devil’s Hall

If you have limited time in Guadalupe Mountain National Park and still have time and energy as you descend from the summit, you can add a detour to Devil’s Hall, a fun hike through a wash and unique slot canyon.

If you include Devil’s Hall, you will add roughly 3 miles to your hike, totaling up to about 11 miles. To reach Devil’s Hall, about 3.5 miles after leaving the Guadalupe Peak summit, you will diverge from the main trail and head north on an old horse trail. This will eventually dump you right onto the trail to Devil’s Hall.

We tried to add on the detour to Devil’s Hall but were worried we would run out of daylight. We ended up completing the hike to Devil’s Hall the next weekend and would definitely recommend it!

exploring the canyon at Devil's Hall in Guadalupe Mountians
exploring the canyon at Devil's Hall in Guadalupe Mountians
exploring the canyon at Devil's Hall in Guadalupe Mountians

Backpacking to Guadalupe Peak

Our original plan was to backpack up to the Guadalupe Peak Campground and spend the night there. However, when we went to pick up our permit, the ranger warned us that it would be well below freezing and the wind would be up to 70 miles per hour. Given that information, we decided to bail on backpacking and tackle Guadalupe Peak as a day hike instead.

The Guadalupe Peak backcountry campsite is located just off the trail about 1 mile before the summit. If you were to backpack, we would recommend hiking up to the campground on your first day. The next morning, wake up early to see the sunrise from Guadalupe Peak and then head back down the mountain. You’ll beat the crowds and have an epic sunrise all to yourself!

Advance permits are not required for backpacking. Permits are first-come-first-served and may be picked up from the Pine Springs Ranger Station. You can read more about backpacking in the Guadalupe Mountains on the NPS website.

view from the summit of Guadalupe Peak in Texas

Other things to do in the area

Looking for other things to do near the Guadalupe Mountains? Below are a few hikes and great activities nearby!

Have you hiked to the tallest point in Texas? Questions about the Guadalupe Peak Trail hike? Let us know in the comments below!

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