Guadalupe Mountains National Park Feature
Flora and Fauna
Despite the constant wind and the arid conditions, more than a thousand species of plants populate the mountains, chasms, and salt dunes that make up the park's different geologic zones. Some grow many feet in a single night; others bloom so infrequently they're called "century plants." In fall, McKittrick Canyon's oaks, bigtooth maples, and velvet ashes go Technicolor above the little stream that traverses it. Barren-looking cacti burst into yellow, red, and purple bloom in spring, and wildflowers can carpet the park for thousands of acres after unusually heavy rains.
More than 86,000 acres of mountains, chasms, canyons, woods, and deserts house an incredible diversity of wildlife, including hallmark southwestern species like roadrunners and long-limbed jackrabbits, which run so fast they appear to float on their enormous, black-tipped ears. Other furry residents include coyotes, black bears, and badgers. You may also spot elk and winged creatures: nearly 300 different bird species, 90 types of butterflies, and 16 species of bats.
Plenty of reptiles and insects make their homes here, too: coachwhip snakes, diamondback rattlers, and lovelorn tarantulas (the only time you might spy them is in the fall, when they search for mates), to name a few. Texas's famous horned lizards—affectionately called "horny toads"—can also be seen waddling across the soil in search of ants and other insects. Rangers caution parents not to let little ones run too far ahead on the trails. Rattlesnakes are common here. They're not aggressive, but give a wide berth to any you spot.
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's