Thing to Do

Hike to Fall Colors

A woman carrying a backpack walks along a trail surrounded by vibrant fall foliage.
Hiking through fall colors in McKittrick Canyon

NPS/Laurence Parent

Bright fall colors of deciduous trees are not common in the southwest, but elevation and environment combine in the Guadalupe Mountains for a seasonally striking display usually from mid-October to Mid-November. A series of short and long hikes of varying degrees of difficulty will bring you to glimpses of this annual splendor.

Expect Crowds

Fall colors depend greatly on precipitation and weather patterns and the peak period can vary from year to year. Generally, the best time of the year for viewing fall colors is the last week of October and the first week of November. For the best experience, we encourage weekday visits, as visitation is generally highest on weekends. It is not unusual for much of the park to fill to capacity on fall colors weekends. All significant fall colors displays in the park require hiking in and out. 

Viewing Fall Colors

The higher elevations in the park provide the right habitat for maples and other deciduous trees to thrive in an otherwise inhospitable desert environment. A number of locations provide hiking opportunities into the mountains for fall colors. 

McKittrick Canyon 

During the fall colors season hikers often focus on the McKittrick Canyon trail, as environment and landscape create often stunning fall colors views. Fall colors can be seen from the porch of the Pratt Cabin, through the best views require the longer hike to the Notch or all the way to McKittrick Ridge. McKittrick Canyon is a day use area and parking is limited. Access is closed at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

Frijole Ranch

The Smith Spring loop trail beginning at the Frijole Ranch provides excellent desert and mountain views and passes by several water sources where wildlife often gather. 

Pine Springs

The strenuous route to Devil's Hall offers fall colors views a short distance from the Pine Springs area; this area is often full by early morning during fall colors weekends. Day hikers can hike to the Bowl for the occasional red burst of maple leaves set against the green of pine trees. Little to no fall colors are visible on the Guadalupe Peak Trail. 

Dog Canyon

Upper Dog Canyon often begins to change color a week or two earlier than McKittrick Canyon and other locations on the east side of the park. The Dog Canyon district is on the north side of the park; allow two hours to travel there from the Pine Springs area. 

Details
Duration for viewing fall colors depends on which trail(s) you choose and what area of the park you are in. 
Pets disturb wildlife and are not allowed on trails. Your pets should remain at home as opportunities for pets are very limited in the park.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180. The driving distance is 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico or 62 miles north of Van Horn on Hwy 54.

McKittrick Canyon 

The McKittrick Canyon area is 7 miles north of Pine Springs on U.S. Highway 62/180. McKittrick Canyon is a day use area and parking is limited; it is not unusual for McKittrick Canyon to fill capacity during fall colors weekends. Access is closed at 6:00 p.m. during mountain daylight saving time and at 4:30 p.m. mountain standard time.

Frijole Ranch

The Frijole Ranch trailhead is located one mile north of Pine Springs on U.S. Highway 62/180.

Pine Springs

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180. The driving distance is 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico or 62 miles north of Van Horn on Hwy 54. It is not unusual for the Pine Springs area to fill capacity during fall colors weekends.

Dog Canyon

The Dog Canyon district is on the north side of the park; allow two hours to travel there from the Pine Springs area. Visitors traveling to Dog Canyon, on the park's north side, can access the area via New Mexico State Road 137.

Fall colors depend greatly on precipitation and weather patterns and the peak period can vary from year to year. Generally, the best time of the year for viewing fall colors is the last week of October and the first week of November. Be aware that weekends during the fall colors season can be full to capacity throughout the park; plan for a weekday visit if possible. 
Accessibility Information

Trail surfaces are loose rock or hardened rock surfaces. Hiking or trekking poles are highly recommended. Trail widths vary from two to six feet depending on the trail. 

Parking

All trailhead areas have accessible parking available. 

Service animals 

Only service animals that have been individually trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities are allowed in the park and on trails.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Last updated: November 6, 2022