Saturday, September 21, 2013

Flood Update and Openings/Closings at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

We continue to have conversations with our friends at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, as they work on trails after this week's flooding.  Below is a full update from the Park, but here's some highlights:

--Starting Monday, the park will temporarily close the McKittrick Canyon Trail so trail crews can start their work in earnest.  They hope to get the trail open for fall colors up to the Grotto.

--Temporarily, no trails will be open for horseback riding, as the only trail open to stock is not accessible from Frijole Ranch

The park's update as of last night:

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Storm Update

(Pine Springs, TX) Park staff continues to assess the damage from last week’s storm and flash floods, and has initiated repairs. The park opened Dog Canyon, the Bush Mountain Trail from Dog Canyon to the Marcus Overlook, and the Tejas Trail from Dog Canyon to the junction with the McKittrick Canyon Trail.

Open facilities now include:
 Pine Springs Visitor Center
 Pine Springs Campground (Both RV and Tent Camping)
 McKittrick Canyon Visitor Contact Station
 Guadalupe Peak Backcountry Campground
 Wilderness Ridge Backcountry Campground
 Frijole Ranch (Exterior Areas Only)
 Dog Canyon
 Guadalupe Peak Trail
 The Pinery Trail and the Pinery Butterfield Station Ruins
 Guadalupe Peak Stock Trail
 McKittrick Canyon Trail (First 1½ Miles to 4th Water Crossing Only)
 Devil’s Hall Trail (1st mile only)
 The Western Smith Spring Loop (Smith Spring Trail is Closed Between Smith Spring and Manzanita Spring)
 The Manzanita Spring Trail
 Bush Mountain Trail (from Dog Canyon to Marcus Overlook)
 Tejas Trail (from Dog Canyon to the junction with the McKittrick Canyon Trail)

Closed Areas include:
 Frijole Ranch Cultural History Museum
 Ship on the Desert
 McKittrick Canyon Trail Beyond the First 1½ Miles, including Pratt Cabin
 Devil’s Hall Trail After the First Mile
 Williams Ranch Road and Williams Ranch
 Williams Road, the Salt Basin Dunes and Western Part of the Park
 All Other Trails, Backcountry Campgrounds and Backcountry Areas
 All trails are temporarily closed to horseback riding and stock use.

The McKittrick Canyon Trail will be temporarily closed beginning Monday, September 23, as trail crews and equipment begin repairs. The park is working to have this trail repaired to the Grotto in time for Fall Colors, which attracts thousands of visitors to see the changing fall foliage in McKittrick Canyon annually.

All park trails are temporarily closed to horseback riding and stock use, at this time, due to safety concerns from heavy damage to and current conditions of park trails.

Much of the park sustained rain and flood damage during last week’s storm. The Frijole Ranch Cultural History Museum, inside the Frijole Ranch House, and the Frijole Bunkhouse sustained heavy water damage to the carpet and walls, and mold is growing inside. A large section of water line was also lost in Frijole Ranch. Ship on the Desert sustained water damage from roof leaks. Park staff is drying out the Frijole Ranch House, Frijole Bunkhouse and the Ship on the Desert, and have initiated repairs. Park staff hiked to Pratt Cabin and the Williams Ranch House to conduct preliminary damage assessments. Although neither suffered significant damage, both remain isolated, as Williams Ranch Road and the McKittrick Canyon trail both sustained heavy damage. Approximately 45 feet of the embankment of the wash behind the Pine Springs Visitor Center was washed away, so that it is now only 35 feet from the Pinery Butterfield Station Ruins. One of the stone benches at Smith Spring was washed away. Part of Williams Road and the salt flats on the park’s western flank remain under water. A large section of fiber optic line that the Dell Telephone Company maintains in the park’s housing area, which was buried at least four feet underground, was washed away. Park staff continues to assess the damage from the storm and flooding. However, most other trails sustained damage, with many areas being washed out or covered with debris, and remain closed. Visitors are reminded that trails which have been opened still have loose rocks and soft, uneven ground, and many require shallow water crossings. Hikers and backpackers should exercise extreme caution, and all visitors are asked not to enter closed areas, for their own safety.

The National Weather Service reported that the Bowl recorded 12.41 inches of rain during a 24 hour period from September 11-12, while Dog Canyon recorded 9.50 inches, McKittrick Canyon recorded 7.32 inches and the Pinery recorded 5.12 inches. The Texas Tech University West Texas Mesonet ( weather station, located near the park’s fire cache, registered 15.73 inches of rain between September 9 and 14, including 13.50 inches during a 24 hour period on September 12-13.

Park information, including park conditions, closures or restrictions, weather and program information, may be found on the park’s website at, on the park’s Facebook page at, or by contacting the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124. Motorists traveling past the park along Texas Highway 62/180 may tune in to the park’s Traveller Information System radio broadcast at 1560 AM for up-to-date park information. The Pine Springs Visitor Center is open daily (except for Christmas) from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM. The McKittrick Canyon, Frijole Ranch House, Dog Canyon and Salt Basin Dunes (Dell City, TX) Visitor Contact Stations are open intermittently. Please call the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124 to find out whether they are open. For Dog Canyon, call the Dog Canyon Visitor Contact Station/Ranger Station at (575) 981-2418. For the latest weather information for Guadalupe Mountains National Park, see or For the latest road information, call 511, or visit for Texas or for New Mexico.

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