Guadalupe Mountains National Park Operating Hours & Seasons
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is open all year round with lots to offer visitors, whichever season they choose to make their trip. The majority of visitors to the park come to enjoy hiking, camping or backpacking, and whilst some facilities are open year round, some of them are designated for day use only, and some of the park facilities have set opening and closing times.
Here’s an in depth look at what’s available, and when, at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Pine Springs Visitor Center – located at Pine Springs (where else). Access is via United States Highway 62/180 between El Paso, Texas, and Carlsbad, New Mexico. This Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor center opens every day throughout the year except for Christmas Day – well, everybody needs at least one day off per year. Hours are from 8am until 4.30pm (MST) in the winter time, and 8am until 6pm (MDT) in the summer time. Summer is between Memorial Day Weekend through until Labor Day Weekend.
Frijole Ranch, Guadalupe Mountains National Park – around 1 mile to the east of the Pine Springs Visitor Center is the Frijole Ranch. It’s a terrific place to spend some time, year round visitors can drive to the site and enjoy a walk around the grounds, see the one-room school and the spring house and eat their picnics under the shade of the large trees. There is a museum at Frijole Ranch which is generally open between the hours of 8am and 4.30pm – ish! The Frijole Ranch has a small parking area so vehicles longer than 21 feet are prohibited.
McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park – is for day use only. The entrance to this canyon is around 7 miles to the east of the Pine Springs Visitor Center, United States Highway 62/180. The entrance gate to McKittrick Canyon is opened up at 8am and closes at 4.30pm (MST) and stays open until 6pm (MDT) during the summer time. There is a small contact station at the trailhead to McKittrick Canyon which has outdoor exhibits, restrooms (handicap accessible) and a few more resources. This contact station has intermittent staffing – it might be open, it might not, you’ll just have to wait and see.
Dog Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park – is open all year round. Dog Canyon is towards the northern side of the park and is accessible from New Mexico Station Road 137, around 70 miles drive from Carlsbad, New Mexico, and 110 miles from Pine Springs and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park HQ. The canyon can also be reached if you exit United States Highway 62/180 on the Texas FM Road 1576 around 22 miles south of the park, then heading on New Mexico State Road 137. You should, however, be aware that more than 30 miles of this route is on a dirt and gravel road. There is a small ranger station at Dog Canyon, somewhere to pick up information, back country permits etc, but this has intermittent staffing. A park ranger lives on the premises.
Williams Ranch, Guadalupe Mountains National Park – is open all year for day-use only. This is a 4×4 road which visitors may access by getting a key from the Pine Springs Visitor Center during daytime business hours. You are only permitted to visit Williams Ranch in a high clearance, 4WD vehicle – for your own safety. There’s no camping or overnight parking permitted at Williams Ranch, you must return your key to the Pine Springs Visitor Center on the same day as you acquired it.
Salt Basin Dunes, Guadalupe Mountains National Park – is another area which is open for day use only. This area has only been recently acquired by the park, so people who have visited the park before may not have experienced this opportunity to travel through an area of such beauty and isolation. Again, you’ve gotta’ check out a key from the Pine Springs Visitor Center and return it the same day. There’s no overnight camping or overnight parking allowed in the Salt Basin Dunes. You can return your key to the Pine Springs Visitor Center, or alternatively to the contact station which is in Dell City, Texas . . . it must be on the same day as you collected them though. The dunes are 50 miles each way, more than 7 of which is on an unpaved road.