Activities For Dogs In Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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Introduction

There are a number of trails that humans can embark on at the Gaudalupe Mountains National Park but pets aren't permitted on any them at this particular National Park. While that may seem like a bummer at first, there is a good reason for that restriction; the Guadalupe Mountain trails are home to a number of wildlife species that would either attempt to prey on your pet (such as mountain lions and coyotes) or who could potentially be preyed on by your dog. Fret not, however, as the campgrounds and picnic areas surrounding the park are open to dogs. Some portions of the nearby Lincoln National Forest permit pets, though caution is strongly advised for those who go there.

Camping

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
12 hrs
Items needed
Food and Water
Camping Equipment
Short Leash
Waste Bags
Pepper Spray
Activity description
Dogs are permitted on the campgrounds in the mountains, so long as they are kept on a fairly short leash (no longer than 6 feet) and looked after at all times. The camping grounds are wide enough for yourself, your dog, and a party of friends and family members to set up camp without disturbing any other campers or animals native to the area. Good quality camping gear can be bought with a budget of about $100 or so, while a sturdy leash can be purchased for less than $20. You'll also want to get your hands on some pepper spray to ward off potential threats in the form of wild animals that get too close to camp.
Step
1
Setting up camp
Your dog can help you set up camp in a number of different ways; if you're caring for a breed that can serve as a watchdog, put your pup on the lookout for bears or wolves that may near the area. A number of these wild creatures may simply be crossing by from one area to the next but if you or your dog see too many in a certain area, then the two of you should move somewhere else before setting up camp. Once you've found a place that doesn't have any predatory animals living nearby, your dog can help you set up your tent by retrieving tools like hammers and nails.
Step
2
Strength in numbers
We may have said this a few times already but we honestly feel like we can't stress this point enough; always keep your pup by your side. Eat your food together, sleep next to one another, and travel side by side while camping at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The same applies if you and your dog are camping with a group of other humans and dogs. Predatory animals likely won't bother you as is, but they're even more likely to stay away if you travel with a large group.
Step
3
Know your way around
Be able to navigate around the camping grounds without getting lost before setting up camp. If you've brought a tracking breed along with you, they may be able to direct you back to the Park's visitor center if they're well trained, but we still wouldn't advise putting it all on them. There are plenty of maps and navigational apps that one can use to get a sense of where they are at any time during a camping trip.
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Pinery Trail

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Any Day
Free
Normal
30 min
Items needed
Short Dog Leash
Pepper Spray
Waste Bags
Activity description
The Pinery Trail is one of the only trails that dogs are allowed to walk on at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It's a very short trail that runs from the visitor center to the park's Butterfield Station. While the Guadalupe Mountains National Park has a ton of trails that are safe for humans, the park prohibits bringing pets on any of them due to the types of wildlife that live there. While there have been rumors of the park thinking about permitting leashed pets on these trials, nothing has become concrete as of yet. Since this trail is so short, you won't need to spend any money on supplies and can try it out during whichever weather conditions suit your fancy.
Step
1
At a gingerly pace
Walking at a brisk pace, a visitor and their pet can complete this trail in about 15 to 30 minutes going forward and back. But if you'd like to get the most of your visit, we advise walking with your dog at a slow pace. By doing so, both of you will be able to enjoy the scenery more and can even attempt to take a few pictures along the way.
Step
2
Laps
Conversely, you and your dog can also try to complete this trail as quickly as you can so that you can effectively walk laps around the course. Don't run, however, as there will likely be a number of other visitors on the trail with you. Try to get through the trail at a brisk pace without jogging or running and see how long it takes using the timer app on your phone.
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Lincoln National Forest

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
45 - 60 min
Items needed
Hands Free Dog Leash
Pepper Spray
Water
Waste Bags
Activity description
The Lincoln National Forest is an area that's relatively close to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Pet activity is restricted here as well, for the sake of domesticated and wildlife animals alike, but there are a few activities you and your dog can partake in together. The Lincoln National Forest has a number of dog-friendly trails that you can embark on with your pet and the two of you can set up camp here as well. About $100 to $150 should cover all of the expenses you'll need for this trip, which you can attempt under any weather conditions that you and your pup are prepared for.
Step
1
Camping in the Lincoln National Forest
Black bears and other forms of omnivorous wildlife call this area home, so you and your dog will always need to be prepared for the possibility of encountering one of these creatures. One proactive step you can take to reduce the likelihood of a bear wandering into your camp is to seal your food in a Tupperware container, place the container in a backpack, and then hoist said backpack in a tree. Another proactive step is to take your dog away from camp for their bathroom breaks.
Step
2
Hiking in the Lincoln National Forest
You are encouraged to bring your dog along with you for a hike along one of the forest's trails, so long as your pet can behave themselves and resist certain impulses. Keeping your dog leashed at all times is a must, in order to keep them safe from the forest's natural wildlife and vice versa. Similarly with camping, be aware of surroundings and remember to clean up after yourself and your dog to keep your trip eco-friendly.
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More Fun Ideas...

Plan a Picnic

Dogs are also permitted in the picnic areas, though they're required to be supervised at all times. That's because Yogi Bear straight up lives in this park and there's a chance (a very small one but a chance nonetheless) that you and your dog could run into him and Boo Boo while they're on the prowl for pic-a-nic baskets. Stay vigilant and keep your bear spray on hand.

Roadside Assistance

Visitors are permitted to walk along any of the roadside areas that are accessible to vehicles with their dogs, so long as they're kept on a leash and their droppings are properly disposed of. You and your pet can actually get a pretty good workout and a nice view walking along these roadside areas.

Conclusion

While the rules and restrictions that prevent pets from partaking in most of what the Guadalupe Mountains has to offer may seem unfair, they were put in place for the benefit of yourself, your dog, and the native wildlife of the area. Don't get us wrong, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is still a fantastic place to visit on your own or with a group of friends or family members - it's just not the most dog-friendly National Park one could visit due to the wide range of predatory animals that call this park home. It's still possible to have fun with your dog in this area, but you'll need to be extra responsible and extra creative to do so.