Guadalupe Mountains National Park Celebrates Anniversary

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This year commemorates the 40th anniversary of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, a desert mountain environment with more than half of its 86,000-plus acres designated as wilderness.

El Capitan Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Photo credit: Dustin Nelson/NPS)

Authorized on 1966 and established by Congress September 30, 1972, the national park lies along the northern limits of the state’s “boot heel” and shares a border with New Mexico.

The park originated with a 1959 land gift from petroleum geologist Wallace Pratt, and was supplemented by the purchase of J.C. Hunter Jr.’s Guadalupe Mountain Ranch a decade later.

Pratt loved the country’s rugged beauty enough to build a summer home on his McKittrick Canyon property, a riparian waterway in the northeast corner of the park where bigtooth maples attract hikers in the fall.

Hunter’s ranch holdings comprise the lion’s share of the national park, forged from several smaller ranches in the surrounding sierras and foothills.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Superintendent Dennis A. Vásquez announces that the park will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its establishment October 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The day’s activities will include musical performances, hay rides, pony rides for the children, special guest speakers, and delicious BBQ at Frijole Ranch, living history at the Pinery Butterfield Stage Ruins, and lectures, films, and special photograph and mural exhibits at the Pine Springs Visitor Center, according to a news release.

Confirmed, so far, are Ceiba from El Paso (Latin American folk music), the Muletones from Dell City (Country Western music), muralist Brother Boko from the Carlsbad Mural Project, historian Dr. Jeffrey Shepherd from the University of Texas at El Paso presenting about the history of the Guadalupe Mountains and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and landscape historian Julie McGilvray of SWCA Environmental Consultants in Austin, presenting about the Butterfield Overland Mail.

View from El Capitan trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Photo credit:

There will be a special photo exhibit from local photographers in the Pine Springs Visitor Center Auditorium. More events will be added. For updates, visit the park’s website (see below).

Guadalupe Mountains National Park will also formally launch the Peak Fitness Challenge (see below) October 6, along with partners Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, the Texas Mountain Trail (see below), one of ten Texas heritage trails, and GeoBetty, that day.

The Peak Fitness Challenge is a new partnership effort to encourage people to enjoy the many spectacular trails in both Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Franklin Mountains State Park to achieve their peak fitness level and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of hiking in America’s Great Outdoors.

“This is a momentous occasion, and we hope old friends of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and new, will join us for a full day of family fun as we go into our fifth decade,” said Vásquez.

“With more than 80 miles of hiking trails through some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is very much a hiking park. We are proud to launch the Peak Fitness Challenge with our partners and encourage everyone to use the park to exercise and become more fit and healthy.

“We hope that those people who visit October 6 will continue to visit, hike, camp, watch wildlife, photograph, and enjoy Guadalupe Mountains National Park,” he added.

Did You Know?

More than 300 bird species are known to frequent Guadalupe Mountains National Park; there are more than 40 species alone that nest in McKittrick Canyon. With several unique life zones and a myriad of habitats, the park is a birder’s paradise.


Guadalupe Mountains National Park

A 0.2 mile paved path from Frijole Ranch History Museum leads to Manzanita Spring, a beautiful desert oasis that supports a variety of plants and animals. (Photo credit: NPS)

Location: On U.S. Highway 62/180 in West Texas; driving distance is 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, or 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico

Entrance Fee: $5.00/person, valid for 7 days; all Federal Recreational Land passes accepted

Address: 400 Pine Canyon Road, Salt Flat, TX 79847-9400

Phone: (915) 828-3251


Facebook page:

Texas Mountain Trail:

Peak Fitness Challenge:

Worth Pondering…

He who strays discovers new paths.
—Nils Kjær

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