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Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

Iowa
posts: 1,258
reviews: 277
Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

I'm planning a trip to the Carlsbad/ Guadalupe Mountains NP area for this upcoming May. It will be myself, dh, three kids ages 10,10, 9. We're interested in scenery, wildlife, and short-ish hikes.

As of now, we're planning on staying at the Rodeway Inn at White's City, and making day trips into the park. I've got two days set aside for Carlsbad Caverns, and am considering three days for Guadalupe Mountains NP. Is that too much time, considering we won't be doing any of the strenous hikes like Guadalupe Peak? The reason for three days is I figured we could do McKitterick (sp) Canyon one day (would like to hike as far as the Grotto), do the Visitor Center, Pinery, and Fijoles Ranch the second day (including the loop hike around the springs), and then the third day for Dog Canyon (I'll be posting a separate question about that....).

Any other "must sees" in the National Park I should add to our list?

6 replies to this topic
Nashville, Tennessee
posts: 65
reviews: 9
1. Re: Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

For your visitor's center area day you could add the Devil's Hall Trail (4 miles) if your up for it. The Devil's Hall Trail is a much prettier hike anyway, as the other flat trails around the visitor center don't have all that much to see that you can't see from the parking lot. If you are mostly trying to avoid steep hikes and not necessarily longer hikes, you could jam it in with the Frijoles Ranch, Smith Spring Loop, and the Pinery and still be looking at a fairly short day. My guess is it'll probably be easier tiring your kids out than keeping them entertained in the hotel (there is nothing to do in Whites City.

I don't know what the rest of your trip looks like, but regarding your other question about Dog Canyon, I think you have to go up through Carlsbad. I'd skip it and spend the day at another location on your way to/from the park. Hueco Tanks, or even a day trip to White Sands if you flew into El Paso, or somewhere like Palo Duro Canyon State Park if you drove down from Iowa. Of course, if this is just part of a much larger trip those suggestions may not make any sense.

Too bad about not being able to tackle the peak, though. I did that hike with my dad when I was about 10 and it was tons of fun, though very strenuous. Well worth it if you can get in the proper shape for the hike.

One thing you must know is that the mountains are best viewed from the south (where you can see the imposing cliffs of El Capitan). If you are coming and going from the north, make sure to take half an hour to drive past the park to some of the overlooks below the mountains. Even driving out to the salt flat area might be worthwhile, as the whole west side of the mountains is a stretch of impressive 1500-2000 foot cliffs.

Edited: 1:38 am, November 10, 2012
Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 45,143
reviews: 43
2. Re: Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

Yes, the views from the south on El Capitan are quite impressive (see the photo in my avatar!) and Alec is right about Whites City. We have stayed at Rodeway Inn and had no complaints other than there was no fridge in the room. But 5 days in Whites City??? Carlsbad is just 20 minutes away from Whites City on a 4 lanes highway.

Another nice daytrip with the kids is to Living Desert SP. This park is just north of Carlsbad and well worth the visit imo.

Tet

Iowa
posts: 1,258
reviews: 277
3. Re: Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

Thanks guys!

We are planning on doing White Sands on the way home (spending two nights in Alamogordo), and LIving Desert SP on the way to White Sands. The reason for the Rodeway Inn is that it's the cheapest lodging I've found in the area where the reviews weren't just absolutely horrible. I'm trying to keep lodging around $100 or less each night, so...;-). We live in a very small town in Iowa (don't even have a stop light, in fact), so it maybe(?) won't be much different from what we're already used to here at home:-).

I'll have to re-think Dog Canyon. I could take a day away from Guadalupe and add it somewhere else. I did consider going to Roswell and doing the alien museum. The reviews aren't the best, but I suspect the kids would think it neat.

We'll be sure to drive south a bit in the park to the best views of El Capitan. It looks very impressive!

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 14,460
reviews: 233
4. Re: Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

Another great national park in Texas but further south is Big Bend NP.

It has been many years since we did Carlsbad, White Sands, and the national parks in west Texas. Will look forward to your trip report and might think about planning another trip to the area soon.

Enjoy your trip!!

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 45,143
reviews: 43
5. Re: Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

We have been to UFO museum in Roswell twice and found it rather disappointing both time. Maybe visit the Spacemuseum in Alamogordo. North of Alamogordo is Smokey Bear SP. Very cute and I'm sure kids will like it.

Guadalupe Mountains...
posts: 3
6. Re: Three days in Guadalupe Mountains NP too much?

Actually, Dog Canyon, despite being remote, may be the prettiest part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. There is a loop trail there, the Indian Meadows Loop Trail, and several trails into the high country. being about 1,000 feet higher than the southern part of the park, you will see different aspects.

McKittrick Canyon to Pratt Cabin and the Grotto is a pretty hike and will take the better part of a day. You can do Frijole Ranch (especially if the Frijole Ranch Cultural History Museum is open), Smith Springs, Manzanita Spring, the Pinery and Devil's Hall in a day. Williams Ranch is a nice drive, if you have 4WD, and the Salt Basin Dunes on the west side of the park are beautiful, although not as large as White Sands. Make sure to get gate keys for both at the Pine Springs Visitor Center prior to going to either. You will find plenty of photo opportunities in the park.

The park offers a variety of free interpretive programs (guided hikes, patio talks, Butterfield Stage Living History, and evening programs) and has four different free Junior Ranger programs (Junior Ranger, Senior Ranger, Junior Paleontologist and Wilderness Explorer Junior Ranger Programs) that will keep your children occupied while helping them learn more about the park. Make sure to inquire about them at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. If your children are Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, ask about the Boy Scout Ranger and Girl Scout Ranger programs.

For more information, contact the Pine Springs Visitor Center at tel. (915) 828-3251 x2124 (open daily, except for Christmas, from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM Mountain Time, from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day), visit the park's official website at (www.nps.gov/GUMO/), Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/Guadalupe.Mountains/) or Meetup page (meetup.com/Guadalupe-Mountains-National-Park…), where free interpretive programs, such as guided hikes, evening programs, patio talks and when Frijole Ranch and Historic Pratt Cabin are staffed, are listed. If you are going hiking, join the Peak Fitness Challenge (www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike/), record your mileages and have a chance of winning prizes.

Enjoy!!!!

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