The best camping near
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TEXAS

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Camping Texas Guadalupe Mountains National Park
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Does the job

Does tho job for an overnight stay and no one to disturb you. Literally a spot in the dessert. 4 wheel drive recommended

Ranger Review HeadSpin Light System at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

A visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is not complete without a hike up to Guadalupe Peak which the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet (2,667 m). This trip was better and brighter because I had the opportunity to test a new light system by HeadSpin Outdoors. 

On your way into the park fill up with gas and pick up supplies either in the towns of Fort Stockton, Pecos or Van Horn. The route passing through Pecos is more direct, but the road is often crowded with large trucks traveling to the oil fields. The route that passes through Van Horn is longer, but more relaxing and scenic. I advise taking the route through Van Horn.

Campground Review: 

Guadalupe Mountains National Parks operates on a first come first served basis and does not take campsite reservations. If you are driving to the park from one of the major Texas cities such as Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or Austin you must leave early in the morning (4am) to arrive early at the park (1pm) in order to secure a campsite. The drive is typically 8 to 10 hours. We elected for a different plan. We left after work at 6pm on Thursday, drove 5 hours and camped at Monahans Sandhills State Park. Reservations can be made at almost all of the Texas State Parks, so we made a reservation at Monahans Sandhills SP.  We knew that we could arrive late and still have a reserved campsite. Then the next day we continued to GMNP at a leisurely pace. We arrive by 1pm and secured one of many available campsites - #12.  

Arriving by mid-day allowed us the option to choose between a number of short trails to acquaint ourselves with the park and acclimatize to the higher altitude. We had the options to explore The Devils Hall trail, The Smith Spring trail or The Pratt Cabin trail. We elected to hike the Pratt Cabin trail. 

The Pratt Cabin trail was a nice introduction to the park for the first time visitors in our group. The trail is a 4.8 miles long out and back hike, relatively flat and the leaves were just starting to change colors. There was water in the creek. And at the turnaround point of our hike there was a historic stone cabin - Pratt Lodge. We returned to camp and had a nice meal. Campfires are not allowed in GMNP so we brought a propane camp stove.The night was cool, but pleasant.

The next day we woke up early and set off for the hike up to Guadalupe Peak. The hike typically take about 4 hours up and 3 hours down. We left early at 8am so that we could avoid the potential crowds. Our group summited without any problems in about 3:30 hours. We celebrated at the top, took some photos, signed the log book and took in the views. We then descended the trail. On our way down the wind picked up and at one corner the wind was whipping around at what I would estimate 40 mph. We reached our campsite by early afternoon and relaxed. At the Pine Springs campsite the winds picked up speed and for the rest of the day and into the night. Many tents in the campground were collapsing or blowing down. Luckily we had secured our tents with extra cordage and rocks. 

Overall, this is an excellent park to car camp or backpack. On previous trips to this park I've backpacked up to Guadalupe Peak as well as Pine Top. There are many good trails with trailheads near the Pine Spring campsites. There are latrine toilets near the tent camping sites and normal toilets near the RV camping sites. There are no showers in the park so be prepared to embrace nature.The true beauty of this park is not really the summit of Guadalupe Peak, but the rustic nature of the high desert trails and views.

Product Review of HeadSpin Light System 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, from time to time I am provided products to test. For this outing I was provided a HeadSpin Light System.

For more info: www.headspinoutdoors.com

I was immediately impressed with the HeadSpin Light System when it arrived in the mail. When I unboxed the product I discovered that it was contained within a sturdy semi-hard case. There were five easily identifiable pieces within the kit - the light head, a handle, a headband, a bicycle mount and a wall charging plug. There was also an instruction manual, sticker and USB cord. The system is very intuitive to use.

The light head is the primary unit that can be combined with the accessories to form multifunctional lights. I'm a fan of good design and I liked the rounded square form of the light head. It has four buttons on top. One button turns on the unit. One button increases or decreases the intensity of the light. One button switches the light pattern from wide to spot. And one button switches the light to a flashing strobe. 

I received the light system just prior to my trip, so I wasn't able to charge the unit at home. One of the great advantages of this product is that it is a rechargeable light with a lithium ion battery. I took the entire kit in the car and charged it with the included USB cable plugged into the car socket. The USB cable can also be plugged in to any portable power bank. By the time that we reached our destination, the unit was charged. This came in handy as we set up our tents in the middle of the night.

The next day we hung the HeadSpin light in a tree above our camp kitchen and used it like a lantern to cook. The soft wide light provided great lighting for camp chores.

I also used the light for walking on some trails. Typically I used the lowest setting, because this light is bright. I played around with the higher settings but my friends kept asking me to turn it down because it was too bright. Hahaha, too bright. See the demo video.

I only used the light system with the headband accessory. I didn't use the handle nor the bike attachment. I think that the handle would be useful around the house. I think that bike attachment plus the headband attachment would be great for a bike packing trip. One could attach the light to the bike's handlebar when riding. Then disconnect it and spin it onto the headband for other activities.  

So who might like this light system? Anyone that likes multi-functional lights. I think that I'll find use for it around the house. It would also be useful to keep within a vehicle. This would be ideal for bikepacking. Hunters might like the intensity of the light, but I'm guessing that they would like a red light added. And of course it would always be useful for camping. If you are in to overloading where you need a reliable, rechargeable bright light this product would be a no brainer. The ability to charge the light from a variety of sources makes this a game changer for me. 

Likes:

Super bright light

Super soft light

Multifunctional

Outlet and USB rechargeable 

Nice design

Quality construction

Dislikes:

I'd like to see a red and maybe a green light

I'd like the buttons to be a little more tactile

Overall I am very impressed with the HeadSpin Light System. I have the feeling that I am just starting to discover all of the functions, features and uses. If you'd like to find out more about the light system or buy one visit their website at: www.headspinoutdoors.com

Most beautiful part of Texas

This campground is very scenic and right at the base of Guadalupe peak. It is very close to the visitors center. There are 4 trailheads that start here and the GPT is very strenuous and 100% uphill. You can also climb El Capitan or hike to Devil's Hall. The views here are hard to beat. I would not go in summer months but that's my personal opinion. They don't reservations. First come, first served

Great Access to Carlsbad Caverns

After learning that Bottomless Lakes State Parks do not allow campfires, and striking out at Lake Van (also no campfires and didn't look to be open in late September), we settled on the Carlsbad KOA to be closer to the Caverns the following morning - and they had campfire rings! 

The owners were very friendly and even showed us to our spot in their golf cart.

Your typical KOA with lots of camping amenities. Enjoyed a long hot shower and clean restrooms. We appeared to be the only folks outside their camper in the evening. 

Was a bit windy, but the landscape allowed for beautiful views all around and a gorgeous sunset.

Doesn’t get closer to Carlsbad Caverns

Simple, no thrills campground. Full hook up and WiFi. Located directly at the entrance to the Carlsbad Canyon National Park. Small restaurant across the street and a general store, gift shop and post office right next door.

👍

We just needed a place to stop for the night and this was a great camp ground. Very very nice and clean facilities.

Incredible

The campground itself is kinda cool. Good usual amenities in usual National Park fashion. The wild nightlife that can be seen and heard is really, really cool. And of course the hiking and views are absolutely incredible.

A fairly secluded and windy desert campground

We stayed here for 4 nights in late November/early December. It is a bit of a drive to get out to the campground from the highway, as you have to circle around the dam the get to the campground. The campground loops are situated up on a hill overlooking the countryside. There is a nice playground underneath a shade cover next to the central bathhouse, which is large and clean. There are trails that go down to the lake boat ramp and a trail that goes between the visitor center/entry booth. This campground was our basecamp to Carlsbad Caverns, which was about an hour drive, if I remember correctly. We enjoyed our stay here, but the wind made us a little worried. There were two days where during the day the wind blew consistently over 25 mph and gusted to 40. Shook the trailer enough that our stabilizer blocks blew away and flagpoles broke. I would stay here again during the winter but I would watch the wind forecast.

Met the need

Had the hook-ups needed and a picnic table, that was about it. Close to the road and tight between the sites with back-in only RV sites for short stays.

Very pretty

You must carry your own water in. These are primitive desert backpacking sites. Since it is the first camp at the end of a fairly tough hike,it is often full. You must get a permit from the rangers to camp here. Fairly rocky, if you are lucky you will see elk. Beautiful night sky’s. The winds can be very brutal. (50 mph plus)

Great Spot

Good spot. Nice and flat and very spacious. Not much around. Not really any trees either. We went in November so it was veryyy cold.

Nicest Campground in Carlsbad/Artesia NM area

Gravel level lots. Water pressure 38 lbs but 50 amp power good. Water extremely hard. My water softener did not make a difference. The campground has bbq dinners delivered nightly except Monday. Meal very good. 18 miles to nearest town. Campfires allowed. Staff very friendly. WiFi very iffy and ATT only has 4G.

Good stop between Carlsbad and Artesia NM

Gravel level lots.  Water pressure 38 lbs but 50 amp power good.   Water extremely hard.  My water softener did not make a difference.   The campground has bbq dinners delivered nightly except Monday.  Meal very good.  18 miles to nearest town.  Campfires allowed. Staff very friendly.   WiFi very iffy and ATT only has 4G.

Guadalupe Peak + Views + Carlsbad Caverns

The main reason why you might want to stay at this campsite during your visit to West Texas and Guadalupe Mountains National Park is to summit Guadalupe Peak and stand on the highest point in Texas. And the main reason why you hike to the peak is to see the views. 

There are no facilities or amenities at this campsite - no water, no restrooms, no shelters, no firewood, no wifi. Just views that stretch on for miles and miles.

You'll likely start your trip by checking into the Pine Spring Visitor Center where you can obtain a backcountry use permit. Permits are issued on a first come, first serve basis so try to arrive as early as possible and preferably before noon. During peak visitation periods permits may be in demand, so it might be a good idea to stay one night at the Pine Spring campground. If the Pine Spring campground is full, there is some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land nearby in New Mexico. Ask the visitor center for more info. The backcountry permit authorizes camping in designated sites in the established backcountry campsites. Fires are prohibited so containerized fuel is your best bet to be used for cooking.

The hike from the Pine Springs Visitor Center to the Guadalupe Peak campground is 3.1 miles - and it is almost all uphill. The hike from the Guadalupe Peak campsite to the peak is an additional 1 mile. The campsite is on a nook of the mountain and marginally protected from high winds. There are a few trees and a few rock windbreaks near the tent pads. The winds often exceed 80 miles per hour, so even if it is not windy when you arrive, secure your tent with additional guy lines. Elevation gain from the visitor center to this campsite is about 2200 feet. You'll need to carry all of your water for your ascent and descent so be prepared to haul 4 to 8 liters depending on the season, heat and personal needs. 

After you've conquered Guadalupe Peak and hiked around other parts of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, check out the nearby Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

Great little place.

Not much to do in the surrounding area, but the park has nice sites with covered picnic tables at every site. Electric and water hookups. Bathrooms are decent and it has hot showers.

First to Review
Clean

Nice lake good fishing and close to town

Nice enough for a desert in New Mexico

This is an oasis in the middle of a, well, not an oasis. The sites are nice enough with shelters and fire rings. The main downside is the extreme sulfur smell coming off the fracking wells in the distance. They release Hydrogen Sulfide (which is pretty toxic) in the evenings and night and this smell permeates everything. Imagine living near these!

Good stay close to Carlsbad Caverns NP

Overall not too bad of a campground. 15 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and less than 40 minutes from Guadalupe Mountains National Park. A little pricy in my opinion ($90 for 2 nights) but they have no competitors so they can charge whatever they want I guess. Full hookups and a store right next door within walking distance.

It worked out for us

Arrived here, after 6PM, on a last minute reservation Severe thunderstorms in area Check In was smooth and friendly. Staff advised us game room would remain open all night, In case tenters wanted to have a dry place Ownwer offered us A Deluxe Cabin for $12.00 more We took the offer due to the weather Yea! Cabin was cleanand well stocked, complete with porch swing. One downer Bed needs to be replaced unless rolling to the middle is fun for you . Tent sites are close together with little shade Showers and toilets are great A little less than an hour to Carlsbad Caverns. Bring groceries with you, as the campground store has a limited stock of necessities. $38.00 per night for a tent site with no utilities.

Ranger Review: Pine Springs

Tent spots were just a short walk to the trail head to go up to the peak. Spots are first come first served, so get there early. We lucked out and got the last one by just a few minutes. Get up and on the trail super early in the late spring/summer months. If it’s a sunny day it is very hot and it gets pretty miserable on the trail. There is really no way to get relief when done (no showers to cool off). Toilets were clean. The sky at night was amazing. Don’t forget to stop at the visitor center, there were some neat displays and some historical building ruins to see. It was fairly windy during our stay and we had to use rocks to help hold down our tent, since we only had the flimsy stakes that came with the tent with us to use. We’d definitely stop there again if we wanted to hike in the park.

Peaceful at the base of the mountains

The tent camping sites are all private making it a very peaceful experience! The views are beautiful with access to several hiking trails. There are vault toilets at the tent sites with flush toilets at the rv lot. There are no other facilities but if you are looking for remote primitive camping this is a great option!

Reservoir RV Site

We stayed at Brantley Lake last summer driving back to Austin TX. We came in late and drove to our site well after dark. The park facilities are very nice with extensive shower and restroom facilities. The site has good hookups for water and electric. The low rating is based on the location. The site is desolate in a very remote area with few if any activities for guests. This area gets very hot in the summer with daytime temps over 100 degrees. If you need one night stay over or something close to the town this camp could be an option but keep your expectations grounded.

Breathtaking

Views out of this world. Cannot compare

Great place to beat the Texas heat!

Dog Canyon is located on the north end of Guadalupe Mountains National Park aka the highest point in Texas. Though secluded, Dog Canyon fills up fast so arrive early or plan in advance to claim your spot.

Due to the elevation, this campground is cooler and has more shelter than the Pine Springs campground.  Dog Canyon has excellent trail access with options of one-day or shorter day hikes.

Ranger recommendations:

  • Have a full tank of gas
  • Bring your propane stove - fires are not allowed in any of the campgrounds.
Big rig friendly!

Nice park. Level sites. Escorted to site.

Right on the lake

Sites are roomy, pets allowed, good wifi with booster. Walk down to the lake at sunset, so beautiful!

The smell of oilfields

Nice campground, a little compact. It has several speed bumps which can be hard when pulling. Saw roadrunners, hares, and a large wildcat.

FREE Backcountry Camping

When I first saw this one I was a bit hesitant because of the name itself. I, a person petrified of snakes and also familiar that names are often given for a reason, was skeptical to say the least. But I wanted to try something a bit different and check into other camping options near Carlsbad.

This one is one that you will be required to get a permit. That permit is FREE, basically they just want to know you are out there just in case. From permit issuance you are told basic instructions of camping is open as long as you are not directly on the path. You can park in certain area and must pack in your gear, so travel with only what you want to deal with on your pack.

Camping options are pretty vast. The terrain is pretty rocky and sandy but you can really get a feel for the land out here as opposed to the campgrounds near town that are pretty standard.

most natural camping setting in the area

definitely more of a nature experience than the other camping options I'm aware of in the area. Permits are free and can be obtained at the visitor center. There are not designated sites, you can camp anywhere that's far enough off the trail (rangers will brief you on how far you have to be). Feb was definitely really cold. We were huddling in a shiver bivvy. Will be back for sure but will bring the zero degree sleeping bag next time. The caverns are absolutely amazing and we consider this the best nature camping around.

camp close to the Caverns and dose up on nature (not RVs and crowds)

Rattlesnake canyon- backcountry camping close to Carlsbad caverns- wayyy cooler than the KOA in town or the other camping options I've explored. Permit required but is free- pretty much anywhere far enough off the trail is fair game (obviously check with the ranger for the actual rules). We emerged from the caverns to see a sea of flames coming from the oil fields in what I guess is just south of the park. Gorgeous sunset- seemingly nobody else around though the rangers said there were at least a couple other parties out there. You'll want to bring a heavy duty tarp/ground cloth as many of the otherwise decent tent spots are pretty rocky.