An RV Renter’s Guide to Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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January 1, 2023


This Good Sam RV Rentals series highlights locations across the US we think are well worth the trip. Check out this guide for everything the RV renter needs to know about Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is regularly called a “hiker’s paradise,” and for good reason. More than that, it’s also a perfect place to visit on an RV road trip. Texas is known for being a huge state, so taking the state in by road means you get to see a lot. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is no different.

The Guadalupe Mountain range runs for 40 miles. It also contains the tallest peak in Texas (no small feat there) and is also home to El Capitan, one of the world’s most famous climbing rocks. Its close proximity to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico also makes it an obvious place to stop for a while and enjoy the many acres of hiking and other recreational opportunities.

Why Visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Your Rented RV?

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No matter what level you find yourself at, the hiking opportunities in Guadalupe Mountains National Park are a perfect reason for visiting the area. It’s very much in “the middle of nowhere” and a good distance away from other locations, but that means you can get away from things and really enjoy the beauty of nature from the comfort of your RV.


People come from all over the country to hike in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The New York Times has even said “there are no real roads” in the area—it’s all for hiking. It’s very much a wilderness park, and the trails you’ll discover will reflect that.

There are more than 80 miles of hiking trails in the park (and even more if you want to go backcountry). Some of these trails are more accessible and easier for less-experienced hikers but most come with several warnings. Midday heat can take a toll, there are high winds that far up in the air, and sometimes the trail just disappears. Keeping printed versions of the trails with you are immensely helpful, but don’t let the rocky conditions deter you. The sights are worth it.

Some of the more well-known trails include:

  • Guadalupe Peak Trail
  • Devil’s Hall Trail
  • The Bowl
  • El Capitan/Salt Basin Overlook Trails
  • McKittrick Canyon Trail
  • Permian Reef Trail
  • The Pinery Trail
  • Lost Peak

Wildlife Viewing

Because the park is so sparsely visited, much of the wildlife remains at home in their habitat. This makes for great wildlife viewing opportunities. As you’re hiking on any number of the trails, keep an eye out for some of the park’s inhabitants.

Granted, because the park is arid and hot, many of the animals who live there are nocturnal—they come out and roam at night because of the cooler air. During the day, you can keep an eye out for animal tracks and other signs they’ve been around. If you really want to see animals, check some of the permanent water sources. Remember: never approach a wild animal.

You might see:

  • Mule deer
  • Elk
  • Black bears
  • Cottontails
  • Jackrabbits
  • Grey fox
  • Javelinas

Historic Ranches

As homesteaders and pioneers roamed across the great expanse of Texas, the beauty of the Guadalupe Mountains called to them. Some set up their posts here and stayed, learning how to grow crops and raise animals in an otherwise arid landscape.

Two ranches, Frijole Ranch and Williams Ranch, are testaments to their existence. Both historical locations show just how important (and scarce) both shade and water are in the area. Williams Ranch in particular requires a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance to get there (so if you’re in a drivable RV, this area unfortunately won’t be for you).

Horseback Riding

Texas and horseback riding seem to go hand in hand. It’s no different at the park. About 60 percent of the park is open to horses—the rest are too rocky and difficult to maintain for your equine friends. Given the large number of trails, horseback riding allows you to see much more of the park than you’d be able to on foot.

Unfortunately, there are no stables or horse rental areas in or anywhere near the park, so this will be for people who keep their own horses. For those that do, there are stock corrals available at different campgrounds that allow you to keep your horses and stay near them while you camp.


The birds throughout the park are prolific, and with such glorious views, there are also ample opportunities to see a wide variety of birds. Keep an eye on the nearby trees and you’ll no doubt see a ton of birds—maybe even some you haven’t seen in other places.

Some of the birds you’re likely to see are:

  • Great Horned Owl
  • Barn Owl
  • Chickadee
  • Sparrow
  • Woodpecker
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Roadrunner
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Grosbeak

Campgrounds and RV Parks for Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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Camping around the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is sparse, to put it kindly. You won’t find many (or any) RV resort type places without a solid drive. But there’s something to be said for dry camping in the area. That means you’ll rely on a generator for power and the water in your tanks. With all that beauty around you, why not rough it for a few days?

Carlsbad RV Park and Campground

A little farther away from the park (nearer to Carlsbad), you’ll find at least a few more modern campsites. Carlsbad RV Park and Campground offers you a lot of the amenities you won’t find in some other places in the Texas desert. It’s close to several attractions in Carlsbad like the caverns and the zoo, and also offers an indoor pool. Every RV spot also has full utility hookups. And don’t forget about the private, enclosed pool either.

Pine Springs Campground

Inside the park there are two primary campgrounds that fit RVs. Pine Springs Campground is one of them. It’s primitive, but you’ll find potable water, a utility sink, and flush toilets. There is a total of 19 sites for RVs, and they’re first-come, first-serve. This is simple desert camping at its finest.

Dog Canyon Campground

Back in the park, the second campground is called Dog Canyon Campground. It sits at a higher elevation and is more forested and secluded than Pine Springs. There is a total of four RV sites here (maximum 23’ length). There’s potable water and flush toilets. This is the perfect spot to really get engaged with the natural beauty the park has to offer.

White’s City RV Campground

White’s City is also near Carlsbad, and that puts White’s City RV Campground near it as well. This park offers full utility hookups plus free Wi-Fi. Other amenities include fire rings, laundry facilities, barbecue grills, and remodeled shower facilities. Enjoy some desert camping from the comfort of your RV.

Chosa Campground

Chosa Campground sits between the park and Carlsbad, just off the road. It’s not a traditional campsite. Rather, it’s an area controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. That means it’s free for you to camp there. Mind you, you won’t find any utility hookups. It’s dry camping exclusively, but it’s hard to beat at that price.

Places to Eat Near Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

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The Guadalupe Mountains are a decent distance away from most towns and cities. The two nearest towns are El Paso, Texas and Carlsbad, New Mexico (one hour and 45 minutes away and 45 minutes away, respectively). There are other small towns nearby, but those two will be your best bet for a good bite to eat. Otherwise, you won’t find much in terms of restaurants inside Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Dining at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

There aren’t any proper restaurants inside the park, but that’s fine because you’re driving an RV with its own kitchen. When you’re camping here, plan on filling your refrigerator ahead of time and plan some meals to cook while you’re here. And note: if you plan to cook outside, you’ve got to do it on a contained propane stove—there aren’t any fires (wood, charcoal, or otherwise) allowed inside the park.

Dining outside of Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Carlsbad, New Mexico sits about 45 minutes away, and El Paso, Texas is about an hour and 45 minutes. That’s a hefty haul one-way for a meal, but if it’s part of a road trip, why not? And being so near the United States-Mexico border, you better believe that anything you find here will have some serious Mexican and Tex-Mex influences. As two very busy towns, there will also be your standard burgers and family-friendly pizza joints. Otherwise, you know it’s the right place to load up on tacos.

Both El Paso and Carlsbad will have a good dining scene, and despite the drive, may well be worth popping into for a while. On the way to Carlsbad, you can stop over at the Carlsbad Caverns as well, work up a good hunger while walking through the caves, then have fresh tortillas and any other great Mexican food that you’re looking for in town.