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Carlsbad/Guadalupe/El Paso- suggestions

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
3 posts
26 reviews
Carlsbad/Guadalupe/El Paso- suggestions

My 20 year old son and I are planning a trip to Carlsbad in February. We fly into El Paso on a Saturday and out on Thursday. The main purpose of our trip is to do some hiking. I have some questions:

1. Is there anything to see/do in El Paso? Should we spend our last night in El Paso in order to do something quick the next day?

2. What hike should we do at Guadalupe? Do we need hiking poles?

3. What can we expect weather-wise in all 3 locations?

4. What else should we do at Carlsbad Caverns besides the basic cave trip?

5. Are the bats active in the winter?



Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
8,607 posts
86 reviews
1. Re: Carlsbad/Guadalupe/El Paso- suggestions

No bats in Winter ... There is more than one cave "tour". Most hiking at Guadalupe is up. to the snow level where,one should turn around .. Hiking poles being no substitute for common sense. Check the 5 day forecast before setting out. On the last day ... There are interesting displays at Ft. Bliss & perhaps, a excursion to White Sands with a dinner in Old Mesilla on the 'Paso return ... Happy trails ... carracar

Fruita, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Fruita, Grand Junction
Level Contributor
7,564 posts
267 reviews
2. Re: Carlsbad/Guadalupe/El Paso- suggestions

Be sure you don't take the hiking poles into the caverns. This from the park's website - "The possession and/or use of a recreational walking stick within the cavern is prohibited, except for those individuals with limited mobility in medical need of walking assistance. Visitors with walking sticks must only use them on the paved trail and are required to have a rubber or soft tip."

In Feb. there are 2 ranger led tours that you can take - King's Palace and Left Hand Tunnel. https:/…tour_schedule.htm You have to make reservations for these. The self-guided tours are open to everyone without reservations. Check out the park's website of things to do at https:/…cave_tours.htm

We used to go there often when we lived in NM - loved it. Hope you will too.

Los Alamos, New...
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Los Alamos
Level Contributor
1,005 posts
216 reviews
3. Re: Carlsbad/Guadalupe/El Paso- suggestions

If I understand correctly, you were asking about hiking poles at Guadalupe Mountains NP (often just called GuMo), right? SusieLou is correct, you can't use them inside the big cave at Carlsbad unless there is a special need, but in my experience they are handy to have on above-ground trails at both parks, particularly if you are doing one of the trails in a canyon bottom (e.g. Slaughter Canyon at CCNP). Where trails cross the water course, they can have sections with stream-polished rocks that are almost like ball bearings, and another point of support is useful. Hiking experience and good judgment count for more in those places than poles, as carracar says.

The ranger-led tours SusieLou mentions are interesting, but you may find you are "caved out" after doing the standard tourist route, particularly if you go in via the natural entrance (recommended). There is a LOT to see on that route. If you do go for a ranger tour, I'd pick King's Palace over the Left Hand Tunnel, assuming that you don't have previous wild-cave experience; more to see and less insecure footing to worry over.

Weather-wise, February is usually an excellent time to be at these parks, with daytime temperatures around 60, warm enough to be comfortable yet cool enough that you won't overheat while hiking. However, you can still get winter storms that get miserably cold and/or dump enough snow to be an impediment, although it won't stay on the ground for long. Overprepare (not dramatically) and be prepared for the possibility that you'll have to skip some above-ground stuff if the weather does get bad.

4. Re: Carlsbad/Guadalupe/El Paso- suggestions

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