October 6, 2021 – Salt Flat, Texas – By the end of the month, colorful fall foliage should adorn the mountain slopes and canyons of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Colors traditionally peak around the last two weekends of October with good color development through the first week of November, but each year is unique, depending on weather and environmental factors.
Visitors can best enjoy fall colors by hiking the park trails. In McKittrick and Dog Canyons the reds, oranges, and yellows of the maples, oaks, and ash trees blend against the gray cliff walls. The occasional red burst of a maple set against the green of the pines is a scene found in the Bowl. A short hike to Smith Springs or Devil’s Hall will also allow you a glimpse of fall colors. So, gather up your hiking gear and set out to enjoy this annual splendor of autumn in the Guadalupe Mountains.
During busy fall colors weekends, it is not unusual for the parking at Pine Springs to fill to capacity. When these lots fill, visitors will be rerouted to other locations in the park. Be prepared with an alternative plan for hiking at McKittrick Canyon or other locations or consider visiting during the middle of the week. McKittrick Canyon is a day-use area; the highway gate is currently locked at 6 p.m. and will close at 4:30 p.m. when the clocks return to Mountain Standard Time.
While fall colors are not particularly visible on Guadalupe Peak, the hike to the summit remains the most popular in the park, with hundreds of visitors attempting this strenuous trail weekly. When planning any visit to the park, bring plenty of water, proper boots or shoes, and hike smart. Always use the restroom before hiking. If you are on the trail for the day or an extended trip, be prepared to pack out human waste, toilet paper, diapers, and hygiene products. Human waste disposal bags are highly recommended to transport solid waste. Please follow Leave No Trace principles while in the park.
Overnight backpackers at the Guadalupe Mountain campsites are now required to pack out human waste using a landfill-safe commercial toilet bag system (such as PETT, Cleanwaste, WAG bags, Restop II, or similar commercial products). The bag within a bag design and ziplock closure securely contains waste and odor, while the special blend of polymers instantly breaks down waste and renders it into a deodorized gel. The contents of the bag are safe for disposal in trash receptacles and landfills, and the bags provide a lightweight, sanitary way to pack out waste. These waste disposal systems are widely available through online retailers, and for purchase at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Affected backpackers will be required to carry a minimum of one bag per person per day for the duration of their trip and present proof that they have the required number of bags before their permit will be issued.
For general park information, park operations, and recreational opportunities visit the park website at www.nps.gov/gumo.