In general, summers in the Guadalupe Mountains are hot, with highs in the 80s and 90s (mid-20s and lower 30s Celsius) and lows in the 60s (teens Celsius). Winters are mild, with highs in the 50s and 60s (lower teens Celsius) and lows in the upper 20s and 30s (just below zero Celsius). October tends to have the best weather, but sudden and extreme changes in the weather can occur at any time. In winter and spring, high winds can whip down the mountain slopes in gusts reading 100 mph, and on hot summer days, thunderstorms can blow up quickly. The sun is warm even in winter, and summer nights are generally cool, no matter how hot the afternoon. Clothing that can be layered is best, comfortable and sturdy walking and hiking shoes are a must, a hat and sunscreen are highly recommended, and plenty of drinking water is essential for hikers.
McKittrick Canyon's beautiful display of fall colors usually takes place between late October and early November. It varies, however, so call before going. On weekend evenings in the summer, rangers offer programs at the campground amphitheater.
Avoiding the Crowds
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of America's less visited national parks, with attendance of only about 200,000 each year. This is partly because it is primarily a wilderness park, where you'll have to tackle rugged hiking trails to get to the best vistas. But it's also out of the way and somewhat inconvenient -- the closest lodging is 35 miles away from the park's main section. In fact, about the only time the park might be considered even slightly crowded is during spring break at Texas and New Mexico colleges, usually in March, when students bring their backpacks and hit the trails. Quite a few families visit during summer, although the park is not usually crowded even then. Visitation drops a lot once schools open in late August.
An exception is McKittrick Canyon, renowned throughout the Southwest for its beautiful fall colors, which are at their best in late October and early November. The one road into McKittrick Canyon will be busy then, but once you get out on the trails, you can distance yourself from others.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.