Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the world's premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era. The park is known for its extensive hiking and backpacking opportunities in one of the nation's most pristine wilderness areas. Birding, history, and many other opportunities to learn and have fun await visitors in this hidden gem of West Texas.
For over 10,000 years, the Guadalupes Mountains have witnessed a constant stream of human history, including bloody conflicts between Mescalero Apaches and Buffalo Soldiers, the passing of the Butterfield Overland Mail, the coming of ranchers and settlers, and finally, the making of a national park. Today, the history is preserved at the Frijole and Williams Ranches, and at the ruins of the Pinery Station.
No one knows exactly when the first people came to the Guadalupes, but archaeological evidence dates back over 10,000 years ago. The earliest inhabitants were hunter-gathers who followed available game and ripening vegetation, and lived in and among the many caves and alcoves common throughout the range. Scattered evidence of their existence, including projectile points, baskets, pottery, and rock art has been found throughout the park.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and contains Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet (2,667 m) in elevation. It also contains El Capitan, long used as a landmark by people traveling along the old route later followed by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line. Visitors can see the ruins of an old stagecoach station near the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Camping is available nearby at the Pine Springs Campground. The restored Frijole Ranch House is now a small museum of local ranching history and is the trailhead for Smith Spring. The park covers 86,367 acres and is in the same mountain range as Carlsbad Caverns National Park which is located about 25 miles (40 km) to the north in New Mexico. Numerous well-established trails exist in the park for hiking and horse-riding. The Guadalupe Peak Trail offers perhaps the most outstanding views in the park. Climbing over 3,000 feet (910 m) to the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the trail winds through pinyon pine and Douglas-fir forests and offers spectacular views of El Capitan and the vast Chihuahuan Desert.