We start day two of our trip by exploring Guadalupe Mountains. Neither myself, nor my hubby, has hiked here before so we are excited. We sleep in a bit after a late night watching the bats at Carlsbad Caverns. We grab a late breakfast at the hotel in Carlsbad, NM, and head for the mountains. So fun to have two national parks right here, and to cross back into Texas!
We stop first at McKittrick Canyon. It is already 11 am. It is a hot morning, Texas in May, but we decide we will do the 4.8 miles roundtrip to Pratt Lodge. 3 little kids (5, 4, 2) and a 4.8 mile hike, sounds reasonable, right?! 🙂
The hiking is fabulous. It is akin to hiking through a desert, yet we pleasantly find water and rocks, always fun for little kids to climb and splash in! We also encounter amazing plants, interesting critters that require us stopping and looking at each and everyone one, and breathtaking views as the canyon cuts and winds from desert into green vegetation and trees. We make it to Pratt Cabin (named for the original owner who donated his home and land to the NPS) by 1pm and stop and have a picnic lunch, and enjoy a break rocking in the chairs on the porch in the shade.
The kids are able to keep up, although one small tot certainly had his share of being carried. 🤣 We make it back to car by 3pm. 3 littles kids, one long lunch break, and we did it almost 5 miles in 4 hours. Color me impressed!
Pro Tip: There is no water or restrooms on this trail. Make sure you bring water and use the restrooms at the trailhead before heading out.
From McKittrick we drive back out to the highway and head down to the Pine Springs Visitor Center.
Visitor Center & Junior Ranger Program
The Visitor Center is a wealth of information, and we work on our Junior Ranger badge books. This particular book is not divided into ages. (And we find the tasks to be a tad above the ability level of our kiddos.) There is one highlight: a scavenger hunt throughout the center learning about the park’s flora, fauna, and geology. You can own a copy of the book before you come to the park from this free download.
We are in love with this National Park and are sad we only budgeted one day here. We know we will have to return to hike the Devil’s Hall Trail, and some day when the kids are older we must hike Guadalupe Peak Trail.
Our 1 day schedule
Arrive Guadalupe Mountains 11am. (We spent the night in Carlsbad and may or may not have gotten a late start this morning trying to pack up three small kids 😛 )
Hike McKittrick to Pratt Cabin
Visitor Center, Ranger book and pledges, gift shop
Cross into Mountain Standard time zone and grab dinner at Peter Piper Pizza in El Paso, TX at 6:15p.
Then we drive a little bit further and spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express Alamogordo, NM, and are checked in around 8:30pm.
- Your Guide to the National Parks: I recommend this book often because I am a book, pen, and paper gal. I like to do my “research” by reading books. This one is a good one. It is so thorough. I love the maps, the content, the recommendations they give to the reader.
- National Geographic Guide to th National Parks of the USA: We relied on this book to help us plan successful one day visits to the parks. This book seemed to hone in on the best of each park and how to maximize your visit.
- I also adore Nevada Barr and her mysteries set against the backdrop of the National Parks that she called home while she was stationed there. Her very first novel, Track of the Cat, is set here in the Guadalupe Mountains. This is the book that started an entire series, and made me fall in love with her central character Anna, and experience the author’s love for the National Parks. I highly recommend reading this!
Have you been to Guadalupe National Park? There are so many hikes here! What was your favorite? We cannot wait to come back and explore more.
Read our first stop on the trip here: Carlsbad Caverns