Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns
Includes all lodging, all meals, cave tour, park entrance fees, ground transportation, leaders, trail maps & narratives.
El Paso, Texas
Timberline van shuttle is provided between El Paso and Guadalupe Mountains N.P. prior to and following tour.
Not included: Airline service to El Paso International Airport, Guide Gratuity.
Hotel 8:00 am
In the vast Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas lies an ancient limestone reef that was once buried in a massive inland sea. Millions of year ago the area went through an uplifting, then a period of erosion to expose this fossilized reef. These are the Guadalupe Mountains. In the area you can find Salt Basin Dunes, rich grassland, conifer forests and a diverse collection of flora and fauna. It’s remote location and lack of luxurious amenities makes it one of the least visited National Parks, but the fascinating terrain, variety of trails, and widespread views are so worth a visit. We combine a trip to these mountains with a visit to the nearby Carlsbad Caverns with the largest single cave chamber in North America and a chance to explore the unique limestone reef from below.
Our tour links with the Big Bend National Park tour, giving the opportunity to thoroughly explore the largest desert in North America – the Chihuahuan Desert. The two regions have similarities, but also have vastly different geology and history making them uniquely fascinating.
The Guadalupe Mountains tour meets in El Paso with a drive into McKittrick Canyon. Our hike on Day 1 follows a spring fed stream, whose waters provide a riparian ecosystem in this desert location. We’ll hike past historic structures, hard wood trees and a picturesque canyon. We continue north in the van to the community of Carlsbad to our comfortable hotel for the duration of the tour. On Day 2 we get right at it with a hike to the highest mountain in Texas. Guadalupe Peak tops out at 8,751 feet, and from its summit we can see what looks like all of Texas and into Mexico.
We take a more casual turn on Day 3 as we spend the day at Carlsbad Caverns. We will have time to explore the large room on our own, take a ranger led tour, and spend a little time above ground with the cacti and wildlife. On Day 4 we return to the heart of the Guadalupe Mountains for a fascinating hike along the base of El Capitan cliffs and out to the salt basin overlook. You will feel like you are on another planet! Our last day 4 in the area gives us the chance to explore a historic ranch and hike in a shady oasis where wildlife sightings are frequent. We return to El Paso in the afternoon for the conclusion of our Guadalupe Mountains National Park tour.
|Day 1||Shuttle from El Paso to McKittrick Canyon, hike to Pratt Cabin||4.8 miles|
|Day 2||Climb Guadalupe Peak||8.5 miles|
|Day 3||Visit Carlsbad Cavern with self exploration and a ranger guided tour||3|
|Day 4||Hike the El Capitan Trail to Salt Basin Overlook||11.3 miles|
|Day 5||Visit Frijole Ranch and hike the Spring Trail; return to El Paso||2.5 miles|