In my last post about our trip, I mentioned the beauty of Carlsbad Caverns. Since the only campgrounds near the caverns is a commercial campground that closely resembles a parking lot, we drove about 53 miles from the caverns to a beautiful place called Guadalupe Mountains National Park and stayed in the Pine Springs Campground. It was a gorgeous place to stay, nestled at the base of some of the towering Guadalupe Mountains. It was cooler at that higher elevation, and the protection of the mountains and the views could not be beat.
Let me first say that if you ever decide to stay here, make sure you gas up before heading out and make sure you have everything you will need with you. The closest gas and stores are 50+ miles away. That being said, the views from your secluded campsite are picture perfect, and although there was a lot of cloud cover each of the nights we were there, you can tell that the view of the night sky would have been spectacular were it not for the clouds. There are few trees, so try to bring your own shade with you if visiting in the hot summer months.
This is the first time I have camped when I did not have a campsite near the bathrooms. In fact, they were located on top of a rather steep hill by the level RV sites. They do have flush toilets though, but not showers.
The visitors center here is wonderful. In fact, I have been surprised by most of the visitor centers we have been to. Here, they have a wide range of displays that include stuffed versions of the critters that wander the area. They also have samples of the plants and a lot of information on the local rocks, especially those that make up the Permian seabed that is part of the land donated by Wallace Pratt, a geologist who recognized the need to protect this important geological region known as McKittrick Canyon. The visitor’s center also holds nightly interpretive programs at 7:30 local time. The first night, it was about various reptiles in the area and the second night it was a really interesting presentation on native plants and how they were used by the Native Americans. The boys really got into that
Speaking of McKittrick Canyon, this was the hike that we chose to take. At the Guadalupe National Park, there are numerous trails of various levels that you can take, from a strenuous 8 hour hike to the “top of Texas” to a slow paces easy stroll that is less than a mile. Our hike up to the Pratt Cabin in McKittrick canyon was moderate and about 5 miles long round trip. Of course, you are in a canyon and it is summer in the desert, so be sure to bring plenty of water along. This was a gorgeous hike with lots of local scenery and an opportunity to take in some history behind the area once you reached the cabin.
If you are looking for a place to stay in the are of Carlsbad Caverns that is cooler, has gorgeous views, and plenty of opportunities for historical and natural learning, then Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a safe bet. Rates for tent camping are $8 per night and there are 20 sites to choose from. There are also 19 RV sites available.
Don’t forget to follow along and read more about our family camping adventures!