There are several signs as well as park brochures that warn visitors to the park to be careful where they put there hands and feet when hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, centipedes, and cacti can cause bites and infections should you run into one and invite trouble. It is also to remember that because of the very dry nature of the park that wood fires and charcoal are prohibited in the park.
At one of the highest points in Texas a sudden change of weather can present problems, particularly when hiking. While we were there in February we noticed how quickly the temperature can drop late in the day. Fortunately there was no rain or snow while we were there. It is always smart to check the weather forecast before starting off even on a moderately long hike. Avoid the stream beds during any storm because flash floods are a danger particularly in McKittrick Canyon.
Obey all warning signs, they are there for your safety and to protect the park for future visitors.
Carry plenty of water, about one gallon per person per day. Beware of sudden changes in weather especially thunderstorms in the summer and sudden snows in the winter. Climbing on the cliffs can be dangerous because of loose surfaces. Get a permit for technical climbing and do not surpass your abilities. Watch out for cacti and any potentially dangerous animals like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and desert centipedes.
Stay on all trails, don't cut across switchbacks or create new trails. Carry out all trash from the park, especially cigarette butts. Report all trails hazards to the Visitor Center.
Make sure you carry a trail map and pack rain gear.
To really enjoy a trip to this park, there are some things I would like to point out.
(1) There are no services in the park. The nearest services are in White's City, New Mexico. Make sure there is a lot of gas in the car and you have all the food, water, and supplies you need with you as you approach the park. You will not be able to buy any supplies in the park. There is a small bookshop in the visitor center, and that is about it. Water is available in the campground.
(2) Watch out for rattlesnakes. They are common in the area. Reports are often made of them being spotted on or near the trails. It might help to make some noise as you walk in the park. Also, be careful with blind spots such as corners, areas near and under rocks, and the vegetation.
(3) Bring a lot of water on your hikes as this is a very arid area. The vast majority of the park has no water available. Also, bring adequate clothing on the hikes, especially in the high country. The weather can often change. While it may be nice and warm at the visitor center, the summits can be chilly and windy. Going up in shorts and a T-shirt alone is a really bad idea.
Watch out for harmful desert animals such as rattlesnakes. Bring maps with you if you are planning on hiking as the park is managed as wilderness, so you will not find a lot of trail signs. In the summer the desert can reach 90 degrees F. or above. Carry a good supply of water with you. There are no services within the park, so be sure you have filled your gas tank and purchased any food that you may need before entering the park. Skunks and other mammals may roam the campgrounds at night, so do not leave food or garbage out.
If you go hiking or backpacking in the backcountry than it is impereitive that you bring plenty of water. In the Summer it gets hot here with highs usually over the 90's (fahrenhite). Even in the winter when I went we had no running water anywhere on the trail for the whole 5 mile hike up.
Be very mindful of the weather, especially on the trails! Sudden weather changes are very common. Thunderstorms are prevalent in the summer. Avoid exposed open areas during storms.
Water up at the Visitor Center before heading out on the trails. This is hot and dry country. Nothing but you and the snakes. Protection from the sun is a must.
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