Community Fitness

Hiking in West Texas

Person hiking along a dirt path, between canyons. Greenery surrounding him.

The western part of Texas is one of the most incredible places to go hiking near this region. Its rolling plains and colder climate make a combination for the perfect hiking environment. If you want to get a good workout while enjoying amazing views, here are some great places where one can go and for hiking in West Texas. These hiking spots are for all types of hikers; they range from beginner to high difficulty levels.

Hiking is a fun and safe outdoor activity everyone will enjoy, and it complies with COVID-19 regulations as well. Remember that some of the following hiking spots may have different rules and regulations that accommodate these times, so make sure to do a little research before planning a road trip to any of these nearby locations across West Texas.

Big Bend National Park

This historic park, located at Big Bend National Park, TX, along the Mexico border, has 1,252 square miles and gets its name from its curve along the Rio Grande. The park’s elevation ranges from 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande to 7,832 feet on Emory Peak.

The Big Bend can be quite challenging to hike due to its many unmarked trails. This hike is recommended during the colder months due to the extreme desert heat during the summer season. The Big Bend has a wide range of geography, including canyons, rock formations, and deserts. The park is home to various flora and fauna and has some incredible scenic views.

Suppose you are wanting to do more than just hiking. In that case, the park also allows its visitors to spend a night in the wilderness by camping on their camping sites, ride their bicycles around, zipline, go horseback riding, do water activities on the river, and much more.

You can even stay the night at one of the fantastic resorts found nearby, and dine at your choice of the many restaurants after a long day of hiking.

Chisos Mountains

This mountain range is located within the Big Bend National Park. These mountains are 20 miles long and extend from Punta de la Sierra to Panther Junction. This mountain range is also known for being the only mountain range within a national park.

Within the Chisos Mountains, there is a hotel called Chisos Mountains Lodge where visitors can stay and dine after a long and tiring day of hiking.

The best trails can be found in the Basin part of the Mountains. The trails range in difficulty and adjust to whatever your physical capabilities are, depending on which route you choose to take.

It is crucial to keep in mind that according to the Chisos Mountains’ rules and regulations, hikers do not require permits, but backpackers are encouraged to do so before heading on their hike. These permits can be found at the National Park Service Campground and Park ranger station, along with interpretive information, maps, and much more.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

This national park is located at 400 Pine Canyon, Salt Flat, TX 79847, east of El Paso, Texas, and has 86,367 acres. The Guadalupe Mountains is home to the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef, and it is considered the fourth highest peak in Texas, with an elevation of 8,751 feet at the highest peak.

The view from one of the highest peaks in Texas is unbelievably beautiful and a once in a lifetime experience. These mountains can be a little tricky to hike due to its exposed terrain and diverse geography, varying from stepping on exposed fossils to cliffs to water bodies. Still, they can also be adjusted to whatever your physical capabilities are because of their different elevations that can go up to 8,000 feet.

If you happen to get tired of hiking on the trail, one can also set up camp on one of their many camping grounds. Another highly recommended thing to do is wildlife viewing and bird watching. The national park is well known for its fantastic wildlife, primarily due to its wide range of bird species.

McKittrick Canyon

McKittrick Canyon is one of the most notable geographic features within the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This canyon is located within the Guadalupe Mountains and Eddy County, New Mexico, in West Texas. This canyon is best known and visited for its amazing vegetation and incredible fall colors during October and November. One peculiar aspect of this canyon is that it is situated in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is arid, compared to the bright and colorful vegetation against the canyon’s walls.

When it comes to McKittrick Canyon’s vegetation, it is quite diverse. The vegetation ranges from trails with trees and grassy areas within the mountainous parts to succulents and cactus within the arid desert climate.

To hike in this canyon’s many trails, one has to pay a small entrance fee before beginning their journey, but it is entirely worth it. The McKettrick Canyon has 411 acres and an elevation of 5,020 feet, with a floor elevation of 4,997 feet.

The canyon also provides horseback riding with designated trails, Permian Age geology, and eye-catching fauna for those who are not hiking fans. The views from this location are unbelievable and a must-see when in West Texas.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

This state park is located at 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015 in the Texas Panhandle. Palo Duro is also considered the second largest canyon in the United States, and it is around 120 miles long, with an elevation of about 2,828 ft to 3,463 feet.

This hike can be adjusted to any hiker from experienced to beginner. Everyone can get their workout in, no matter how easy or complicated the trail may be.

Suppose you want to stay and experience the canyon for longer. In that case, there are many camping sites available from all ranges, but if you are looking for a more comfortable and luxurious way of camping while in the wilderness, Palo Duro’s newest ‘glamping’ addition is for you. This new elegant way of camping provides its guests with air conditioning, fully furnished rooms, refrigerators, microwaves, gas firepits, and much more of the best amenities out there.

Franklin Mountains State Park

This State Park is one of the largest urban parks, entirely within city limits. The 24,247.56 acre hiking site is located at Tom Mays Park Acess Rd, El Paso, TX 79930. The highest point of elevation can be found on North Franklin Peak at 7,192 feet.

The Franklin Mountains has over 51 hiking trails from all levels of hiking abilities. The park also offers tours to the general public on the first and third weekends of the month if you want to get to know the terrain better before hiking on your own.

Hikers can camp overnight if they please and enjoy other activities such as rock climbing, picnicking, bike riding, etc. The park also has a wide variety of flora and fauna that nature lovers will undoubtedly appreciate while at this mountain sight.

Mammoth Rock

This rock formation gets its name due to it having the shape of a mammoth. Some say it even looks like it has an eye from certain side angles; that is what makes it most emblematic.

This well-known landmark is located in El Paso, TX 79912. It is a part of the Franklyn Mountains State Park as well. Most hikers say this is a must-go-to site when visiting Franklyn Mountains due to its unbelievable shape and incredible views.

The best time to go to this hiking site is in the spring. According to past hikers, due to the perfect weather that arises during that time.

Caprock Canyons State Park

This state park is another great place to go hiking in West Texas. Caprock is the third largest state park in Texas, with 15,314 acres. This park is located at 850 Caprock Canyon Park Road, Quitaque, TX 79255, southeast of Amarillo.

Caprock Canyon is popular for its unique wildlife experience. Especially for the bison who roam freely and the bats found in the Clarity Tunnel.

If you are not much of a hiker, there are many other options for you to do at this park. One can go horseback riding on one of the park’s many trails, mountain bike trails designed for beginners. Due to the bodies of water that can be found at this site, visitors can also fish and swim freely.

If you desire to stay at the state park for longer, camp on the camping sites within the premises. The campsites vary from ones with electricity to hike-in primitive sites to get the true camping experience. The park also provides equestrian camping sites where horses can rest too.

Another activity one can do while being at this park is a geocache. Geocaching is like treasure hunting, visitors will hide millions of fun objects for other visitors to find. This is a fun and unique activity the whole family will enjoy while in the west.

Visting These Hiking Sites

There are so many more places to go hiking in West Texas than the ones mentioned. Just do a quick search, pack a backpack with all your hiking gear and necessities. Grab your family and road trip to your closest or most favorite hiking spot for a fun little getaway. If you feel like going on a hiking spree, you can make a round trip to all these nearby sites; your next adventure is just a short distance away, after all.

Most hikers highly recommend going to these hiking sites around the spring months to avoid hot summers or cold winters. I recommended to look up hiking trails. Research to see which trails fit or adjust to your fitness level and hiking capabilities the most.

Remember to follow and comply with all COVID-19 rules and maintain social distance while being Hiking in West Texas. Some of these hiking spots may have different guidelines due to current times; Remember to call the visitor center and make a reservation for safe measure. It is always best to be prepared when going on hikes in the west.

By Fernanda Tronco, journalist Intern.

Check out other outdoor-related articles, Trip to Palo Duro and Best golf courses in Lubbock.

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