Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a relatively small and refreshingly uncrowded national park. Only an average of 170,000 annual visitors come to explore the 85 miles of hiking trails. Compare this to the 4.1 million visitors who explore the much larger Yellowstone National Park and you can appreciate the difference in crowds. The Guadalupe mountains are located on the border of Texas and New Mexico. Only a small portion of the park is accessible by car and a fair amount of driving is necessary in order to visit each of the 4 main regions of the park. However, the largest area of the park – Pine Springs is easily accessible off of US 62/180.
If you are traveling with a dog, your exploration of Gaudalupe Mountains will be very limited. However, that doesn’t mean that if you are driving by, you shouldn’t consider a stop. Dog’s are allowed on the limited roads, in the campgrounds and picnic areas, and on one trail – the Pinery Trail. The Pinery Trail connects the Pine Springs Visitor Center to the ruins of Pinery Station (an old stagecoach stop). It is only 0.8 miles in length, but if you also connect it to the trail from the campground, you can walk a little further.
The Pinery Trail is an easy, mostly paved walk, but it does offer some nice views of the mountains. At the end of the trail, are the ruins of the Pinery Station, which is the only remaining station ruin standing close to a major thoroughfare. U.S. 62/180 roughly follows the original Butterfield route through Gaudalupe Pass. For more information about this trail, check out the the official website for Guadalupe Mountains. Although we wished it was much longer, we enjoyed our short walk down Pinery Trail.
For more information about pets in Gaudalupe Mountains National Park, check out their pet policies here. Or if you want an overview of which parks are dog-friendly, check out our summary post of national park pet policies.
There are two front country campgrounds in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. One at Dog Canyon and one at Pine Springs. We stayed at the Pine Springs campground, which had a nice tent camping area and a parking lot style RV camping area. At least it was only $8/night.
One word of caution: We arrived at Gaudalupe Mountains National Park on May 1st and it was WINDY! The RV was continually buffeted by the wind in the campground/parking lot. Enought that without any level jacks set up, we were nervous about the extent of rocking. We asked a ranger about the weather and found out that this area has an entire windy season. The ranger mentioned that this windy season typically ended around Memorial Day and was followed by a rainy season. But he assured us the fall weather was spectacular. So when planning your trip to this area, keep the wind in mind. We ended up not staying the whole night and headed down towards Carlsbad Caverns. We found a lovely, much less windy, free BLM spot just outside of Whites City, New Mexico.
Activities in the Surrounding Areas
We didn’t stay long in this area, but there is a fair amount of BLM land that is much more dog-friendly than the National Parks.
The pictures below are from our BLM campsite near Carlsbad Caverns. To find this campsites we first used freecampsites.net. We supplemented our knowledge of the site with this fantastic post by fateunbound.com. There were already a few campers there, but we were able to find a place to park and it was a lovely spot for the night. We even got in a nice evening/sunset walk with the dogs.
Have you visited Guadalupe Mountains with or without your pooch? What are your thoughts on the park and the surrounding areas? We would love your comments below! If you want to continue following along with our adventure, check out our National Parks page. We will be posting at least one National Park article per week until we are caught up on our travels.