photo by: Angel Guev.
If your heart longs for adventure in the great outdoors, you will find breath-taking landscapes and ample exploration opportunities in and around Carlsbad.
An oasis for nature lovers, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located 50 miles south of Carlsbad, in the Chihuahuan Desert. You can't miss its landmark monument, El Capitan, rising more than 8,000 feet above the desert floor. This wondrous convergence of desert, forest and gypsum sand dunes shelters an abundance of wildlife—more than 300 bird species along with kit fox, mule deer, badger and other mammals, reptiles and nearly 1,000 plant varieties. The park also contains one of the world's premier examples of a fossilized reef, dating back more than 260 million years. Enjoy hiking, backpacking and ranger programs devoted to history, geology, night skies and more.
The 100-mile Guadalupe Ridge Trail extends from the wilds of west Texas through New Mexico’s high deserts, winding through two national parks and a national forest. Whether you’re seeking an exciting day of hiking, a weekend excursion or a week-long trek, the trail offers a thrilling adventure in the Southwest. Highlights include Sitting Bull Falls in Lincoln National Forest and miles of rugged backcountry.
Contact the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce for more information: 575-887-6516
This developed portion of the Black River Recreation Management Area is located south of Whites City in the area of Washington Ranch and Rattlesnake Springs. A paved trail leads visitors down a short path to a wildlife viewing deck along the river’s edge. The area, well known as a diverse bird habitat, offers picnic facilities, a vault toilet, and three primitive hiking trails. All are rated easy.
Dam Trail: The trailhead is located on the west side of the parking area and follows a two-track road to a small concrete dam on the Black River. This 1.5 mile round trip takes about 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
Mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners will enjoy 12.5 miles of fun desert terrain single track trails, located just off the south end of Standpipe Road. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to moderate in rolling terrain in limestone foothills. Trail signs are minimal, so be sure to bring a map of the trails available here.
For 30 miles, the byway travels from the junction of state highway 285 along highway 137. The Chihuahuan Desert topography varies from flat terrain to the ruggedness of the Guadalupe Mountains. This varied topography holds valuable resources and is home to many fascinating animals and plants. NOTE: It is Open Range – livestock have the right of way.
Photo by: Christian Volk
Off Highway Vehicle use
Carlsbad Field Office (CFO) has two areas designated for Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use: Alkali Lake, east of Illinois Camp Road and Hackberry Lake OHV Areas off of Shugart Road (Hwy 222). Each area provides opportunity for diverse recreation experiences. Alkali Lake OHV site has trails consisting of sand, limestone hills, and draws giving the rider a variety of skill-testing opportunities. Hackberry Lake has two distinct environments – a large, open sand dune complex and an extensive trail area. The 132-acre dune area provides the OHV rider with 30-40 foot red sand dunes on which to test their skills. Just a short distance from the dunes is the trail area where the Carlsbad Desert 100 Race is held each year. This Hackberry Lake OHV site has nearly 100 miles of trails through sandy desert terrain and rocky, rolling hills. Both Hackberry sites allow free overnight camping and are developed with sheltered picnic areas, a vault toilet and large, graveled parking lots.