About 60% of the park's trails are open to horses for day trips, although horses are not permitted in the backcountry overnight. There are corrals at Frijole Ranch (near Pine Springs) and Dog Canyon. Each set of corrals contains four pens that can accommodate up to 10 horses. No horses or other pack animals are available for hire in or near the park. Park rangers warn that horses brought into the park should be accustomed to steep, rocky trails.
Wildlife-Viewing & Bird-Watching
Because of the variety of habitats, and because these canyons offer some of the few water sources in western Texas, Guadalupe Mountains National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing and bird-watching. McKittrick Canyon and Frijole Ranch are among the best wildlife viewing spots, but a variety of species can be seen throughout the park. Those spending more than a few hours will likely see mule deer; the park is also home to a herd of some 50 to 70 elk, which are sometimes observed in the higher elevations or along the highway in winter. Other mammals include raccoons, striped and hog-nosed skunks, gray foxes, coyotes, gray-footed chipmunks, Texas antelope squirrels, black-tailed jackrabbits, and desert cottontails. Black bears and mountain lions also live in the park but are seldom seen.
About two dozen varieties of snakes make their home in the park, including five species of rattlesnakes. There are also numerous lizards, usually seen in the mornings and early evenings. These include the collared, crevice spiny, tree, side-blotched, Texas horned, mountain short-horned, and Chihuahuan spotted whiptail. The most commonly seen is the southwestern fence lizard, which is identified by two light-colored stripes down its back.
More than 200 species of birds spend time in the park, including peregrine falcons, golden eagles, turkey vultures, and wild turkeys. You are also likely to encounter rock wrens, canyon wrens, black-throated sparrows, common nighthawks, mourning doves, rufous-crowned sparrows, mountain chickadees, ladder-backed woodpeckers, solitary vireos, and western scrub jays.
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.