Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a small park located in the Texas panhandle just down the road from Carlsbad Cavern. Since we were in the area on a road trip, we decided to check it out.
The property for this park was donated to the National Park Service in the 60s. By the 70s, they had decided to designate it one of the country’s 59 national parks. There isn’t a whole lot at Guadalupe for young kids, just a Visitor’s Center with a very small museum, a few nature walks and hikes through the desert, and an old pioneer cabin that you can walk through.
The kids enjoyed the Junior Ranger program, which they printed out online. They were able to complete 4 activities before arriving, which was enough for the badge, and two more at the park, which earned them the patch, too. Part of this was looking at the wildlife displays in the Visitor’s Center and answering questions at the pioneer cabin.
We also did two short walks. The first one was called Pinery Nature Trail and was located just behind the Visitor’s Center. This two-thirds of a mile out-and-back trail showcased some of the flora in the park, which includes yucca, cacti, and different kinds of desert trees. The hike ends at a very old foundation of a mail service building that preceded the Pony Express. This hike was paved and easy enough for anyone, but it was only 85 degrees on the day we visited and it felt like 105. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas!
The second trail we did started at the Frijoles Pioneer Cabin. It walked down to one of the six springs in the area, which has been dammed to form a beautiful pond in the middle of the desert. It takes all your willpower not to dip your toes in! The water is crystal clear and there are fish swimming just below the surface. If you were here at the right time, you’d certainly see wildlife, but all we managed to see were a few lizards and a roadrunner. This trail continued farther in a loop to a second spring, but we stopped at Manzanita Spring and returned, which was just .6 miles roundtrip.
We spent less than 3 hours at Guadalupe National Park, but if you’re in the area for Carlsbad Cavern and have a half day to spend, it is worth the half-hour drive.