• lilmyacofield

Fall Colors


By Michele Robertson Fall colors aren’t just for the east coast. The Guadalupe Mountains National Park boasts a beautiful fall color season every year, right here in our own Chihuahuan desert. Starting in mid-October and continuing until about mid-November the park comes alive with color. Brilliant reds, vibrant oranges, and vivid yellows can all be enjoyed within an hour drive of Carlsbad. Elizabeth Jackson, Chief of Interpretation, Education and Visitor Services, and Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Guadalupe Mountains National Park shares details about what to expect during fall colors at the park. “The duration of the colors is dependent on the weather. Wind, changing temperatures and rain can increase the duration of fall colors or remove the leaves quickly. Our fall colors event tends to be less colorful when there is not as much annual precipitation,” Jackson says. Thousands of visitors come from all over the country to see the fall colors in McKittrick Canyon, Smith Spring, and Devil’s Hall. Be sure to arrive early if you want to gain access to the park. The website shares that by 8:15 am Mountain time, visitors have been turned away on the weekend due to high visitation numbers. “Monday-Wednesday tend to be the days when visitation is low. By Thursday thru Sunday, visitation is at a peak, parking fills up and we cannot accommodate any more visitors once all parking areas are filled,” said Jackson. The ongoing pandemic of Covd-19 has increased visitors to the park “with people wanting to get out more and away from the cities dueto the increased cases of COVID-19 in their areas, visitation is at an all-time high,” Jackson adds. The most popular hike in the park is Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, but during fall colors McKittrick Canyon takes the top spot. Due to the increase in visitation “those wishing to hike, camp or stay in the RV camping areas should arrive early in the day to ensure they can gain entry into the park. We are filling up in all areas of the park on the weekends, even in Dog Canyon,” Jackson said. Access to the visitor center is limited to five at a time. Fall color status is updated as change occurs on the website, and the park’s social media pages also keep the public updated on color change. Park fees are $10 a person ages 16 and up, and grants you park access for seven days. There are also fee free days that can be found on the website. If you have a fourth or fifth grader, the National Park Service has a special pass for those students. Typically, fourth graders are given a park pass through the Every Kid Outdoors initiative. This year they are extending that to include fifth graders as well, since Covid-19 kept many students from being able to use their pass during their fourth-grade year. Get your student pass by visiting https://www.nps.gov/kids/fifthgrade.htm#:~:text=With%20this%20voucher%2C%205th%20gra

ders%20and%20their%20families,from%20October%2028%2C%202020%20through%20August%2031%2C%202021.Veterans and Gold Star families also have free entrance to national parks. This new program started on November 11, 2020 as a way to thank veterans and Gold Star families for their service and support of our country and to encourage them to explore our national parks. Find out more at https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/veterans-and-gold-star-families-free-access.htmBe sure to plan accordingly when you travel. Take plenty of water, at least one gallon per person per day. Be aware of the weather and any restrictions in place. Pack according to your activity, and always practice the seven principles of leave no trace, especially the pack it in, pack it out. #RecreateResponsibly

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