Guadalupe Mountains National Park Camping: A Guide to the Park’s Campgrounds

Since hotel options near Guadalupe Mountains National Park are very limited, it makes sense that visitors would consider staying in park campgrounds instead.

Camping right in the park can be a big advantage, as you’ll be much closer to the hiking trails and other fun activities in the park.

Pine Springs and Dog Canyon are the two primary campgrounds here, and there are also a number of “wilderness campgrounds” in the backcountry near some of the trails.

How many campgrounds does the park have? Which one should you stay at? How can you reserve a spot? What time of year should you camp?

Read on for all the details you need to know about Guadalupe Mountains National Park camping!

pine springs campground
View of the mountains from Pine Springs Campground. (NPS)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Camping Options

Guadalupe Mountains NP has two primary campgrounds you can drive to: Pine Springs and Dog Canyon.

Pine Springs is located right near the visitor center, so it’s the most popular and easiest to reach. The Dog Canyon Campground is in the more remote northern section of the park and is much less popular.

The park also has several backcountry campgrounds you can reach via lengthy hikes. Among the more noteworthy spots are Wilderness Ridge Campground (on the Permian Reef Trail), Guadalupe Peak Wilderness Campground (on the Guadalupe Peak Trail), and McKittrick Ridge Campground (on the McKittrick Canyon Trail.)

There’s one additional campground, the Frijole Horse Corral Campground. It’s only for use by visitors with horses.

Pine Springs Campground

Capacity: 35 sites (20 tent, 13 RV, 2 group)
Reservations: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/258851
Electric / water hookups: None
Bathrooms: Flush toilets, but no showers
Cost: $20/night
Elevation: 5734 feet
Cell phone signal: Yes, usually

pine springs campground

Pine Springs Campground is located near the Pine Springs Visitor Center in the heart of the park, just off U.S. Highway 62/180. The campground offers great access to the park’s trail system and terrific views of the mountain peaks surrounding it.

The campground has 20 tent sites with picnic tables and tent pads. Campers will find toilets and potable water, but no showers.

The maximum length for RVs and trailers here is 50 feet. Note that the RV parking lot here is the same parking lot used by hikers at the Pine Springs trailheads. So if you stay here, expect to have hikers driving up and parking near you before sunrise.

Cell phone service is generally good here, but it can cut out now and then. Fortunately, it’s just a short walk to the visitor center, which has 24-hour wifi with no password.

Dog Canyon Campground

Capacity: 14 sites (9 tent, 4 RV, 1 group)
Reservations: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/258852
Electric / water hookups: None
Bathrooms: Flush toilets, but no showers
Cost: $20/night
Elevation: 6290 feet
Cell phone signal: No

dog canyon - guadalupe mountains national park camping
A tent site in Dog Canyon Campground. (NPS)

Situated in the more remote north-central section of the park, Dog Canyon Campground is a smaller area with only 9 tent and 4 RV campsites, plus one larger group site. RVs can only be 23 feet long here.

From here, you have access to the Tejas Trail, Bush Mountain Trail, and the Indian Meadow Nature Trail.

Dog Canyon Campground has potable water and flushing toilets as well. But do not expect cell service in this part of the park.

Camping Regulations at Pine Springs and Dog Canyon

Both developed campgrounds are open 24 hours a day, year-round. Camping is limited to 14 consecutive nights (though I can’t imagine why anyone would need to camp here for two straight weeks.)

Cooking stoves are allowed, but charcoal, wood fires, and propane firepits are not permitted.

Tent sites and RV sites cost $20 each, while the group sites are $60. Both campgrounds accept reservations, and guests are strongly advised to book ahead of time, especially during the peak months from March to May and September to December.

See our full article on the best time to visit the park.

guadalupe mountains national park campgrounds - rv parking

Frijole Horse Corral Campground

Wait, you own a horse? Ok cool, then stay at the Frijole Horse Corral Campground. There’s a single group campsite here available for $60 per night, with two tent pads and two RV parking spaces.

It’s located near the highway, so expect lots of car noise and no seclusion. This site is only for horse users, not regular campers.

You can reserve this site up to six months ahead of time.

Wilderness Campgrounds in the Park

These ten backcountry campgrounds can be reached via hike. They are primitive campgrounds with only 5-8 tent sites each.

You must obtain a Wilderness Use Permit ($6 permit fee, plus an additional $6 per person) to camp at backcountry campgrounds.

wilderness ridge camping
A tent site at Wilderness Ridge campground. (NPS)

These campgrounds have no water or bathrooms, and each requires a minimum three-mile hike with substantial elevation gain to reach them.

The undeveloped wilderness campgrounds in the park:

• Guadalupe Peak Wilderness Campground (just off the Guadalupe Peak Trail)
• Pine Top Wilderness Campground (nearest to The Bowl)
• Blue Ridge Wilderness Campground
• Bush Mountain Wilderness Campground
• Mescalero Wilderness Campground
• Marcus Wilderness Campground (near Dog Canyon)
• McKittrick Ridge Wilderness Campground
• Wilderness Ridge Campground (Permian Reef area)
• Shumard Canyon Wilderness Campground
• Tejas Wilderness Campground

Each of these wilderness campgrounds is a cool way to get into the backcountry a bit and have more of a remote camping experience.

I personally recommend Guadalupe Peak Wilderness Campground. If you plan to hike to the peak anyway, why not bring your tent and sleeping bag and spend the night here?

The campground is more than two-thirds of the way up the mountain, so you can complete most of the hike in the afternoon, relax overnight, and get up early to catch sunrise at the peak the next morning.

One caution: It does get quite windy and chilly up here, so be prepared with warm clothing and gear! There are lots of big rocks around the campsites — probably used by previous campers to hold down their tents in the strong winds.

guadalupe peak wilderness campground
An empty campsite at Guadalupe Peak Wilderness Campground.

Campgrounds Outside the Park

If the park campgrounds are full, you can try some of the options in the surrounding area.

Whites City RV Campground: The closest RV park to Guadalupe Mountains National Park (35 miles away), this place has electric hookups, water, and free wifi. There are tent and RV sites.

Carlsbad RV Park: Located 51 miles away in New Mexico, the Carlsbad RV Park and Campground features more than 200 RV sites, plus tent sites and rustic cabins.

Do you have any other suggestions for the best Guadalupe Mountains National Park camping options?

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