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One of the reasons that my son and I went to west Texas and New Mexico recently was to hike up Guadalupe Peak
Guadalupe Peak is the state highpoint of Texas and sits 8,749 feet above sea level
Getting to Guadalupe Peak
The Guadalupe Peak visitor’s center is located off of US Highways 62/180, about 110 miles northeast of El Paso. The Guadalupe Peak visitor’s center is about 55 miles southwest of Carlsbad, NM if you’re coming from that way.
You’ll want to park in the Pine Springs Visitor Center, which is open 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day) and is generally open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you’re there during those hours, you’ll want to go inside and purchase a Day Hike permit ($5 per adult 16 years and older)
You can pay by credit card inside the visitor’s center
One interesting fact to know about hiking Guadalupe Peak is that the Guadalupe Peak visitor’s center and park is on Mountain time
Even though most of Texas is in the Central Timezone, Hudspeth and El Paso counties are in the Mountain Timezone along with New Mexico. And while of course, time doesn’t matter in terms of being on the mountain and when the sun goes down, it does affect timing of when you can get into the visitor’s center
The hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak
The National Park Service suggests hiking to the top of Guadalupe Peak will take about 6-8 hours roundtrip. It’s an 8.4 mile hike and when I first saw that I thought “Pshaw, 8.4 miles? That won’t take long at all – what are we going to do AFTER lunch?!?”
After you park in the parking lot, the Guadalupe Peak trail along with the trail to El Capitan (another nearby mountain) start right off of the parking lot. We had gotten a bit of a later start than I’d have preferred – starting our Guadalupe Peak hike from the trailhead about 9:40 a.m.
The first 1.5 miles or so of the Guadalupe Peak trail is VERY steep. If you’re not down for that, there is also what they call the horseback trail that is about a mile longer but not quite as steep. We chose to take the horseback trail, which starts at the same spot off of the parking lot, but a little while down the trail, you’ll see the following signpost
Straight ahead is the regular (steep) trail, to the right is the horseback trail (longer / less steep) and El Capitan is to the left. Things went well for the first mile or two, but it was definitely hard going.
Then…. the complaining
After about a mile and a half, the horseback trail rejoins up with the main trail, which gives a pretty nice vista
It was around here that the complaining started going on from my son. Mentally, I was fine although physically I was a bit sore but my son was having a really hard time. I tried to reach deep down into my Dad playbook to encourage him any way I knew how.
Finally, I had to start lying to him – promising potential ski lifts down from the top so we wouldn’t have to hike back down…
It felt like we were taking a 5 minute break every 2-3 minutes…
Finally… THE SUMMIT!
But we persevered onward and upward. I tried my best to stretch out the time between our rest breaks because it was starting to get into the late afternoon and I was concerned about hiking down the mountain in the dark. Every intermediate marker we passed (the bridge cut into the mountain, the turnoff for the campsite, etc) I talked up about how we were “almost there”. Here we are legitimately “almost there”, as you can see the obelisk on the summit of Guadalupe Peak in the background
We passed more and more people coming back down, but finally, about 3:30 p.m., we made it to the top of Guadalupe Peak
I posted a couple of videos on Youtube from our time at the top
The first one was my Leonardo DiCaprio attempt – “I’m the KING of Texas!!!!”, though you can’t really hear me due to the wind and me facing away from the camera 🙂
Then here’s the panorama from the top of Texas
Yeah that’s right – All you people from Texas – I own you. I’m better than you – unless you’ve been here too 🙂
And here’s our log entry in the log book at the top
Had to throw a little shoutout to the blog of course – I’m sure the traffic will start ROLLING in! I was definitely feeling proud of my son for sticking with it and making it to the top as well as all others who have summited Guadalupe Peak, the Texas state highpoint.
Hiking back down Guadalupe Peak
We spent about 30 minutes up at the Guadalupe Peak summit, before heading back down. It had taken us about 5 hours and I was worried that it would take another 5 to go down. In hindsight of course, it should be obvious that it would not take as long to hike down as it did to hike up.
We managed to hike down Guadalupe Peak in about half the time – 2 1/2 hours, meaning we got back to the parking lot about 6:30 p.m. We did the last half hour or so in the dark, which wasn’t really a problem.
Ever been hiking the Guadalupe Peak summit? Can you also declare yourself the “King of Texas”? Leave your reports in the comments
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