2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
When visiting Guadalupe National Park, it is well-worth checking out what its sister park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, has to offer.
Besides the famous caverns and caves, Carlsbad also has some wonderful trails and beautiful destinations. The backcountry route up Yucca Canyon offers solitude and splendor aplenty.
On a typical day in March, it is likely that the only encounters will be with desert bighorn sheep, lizards, and birds.
Yucca Canyon is much narrower than the canyons in the surrounding area, which provides a more intimate experience than some of the more well-known destinations. As with other area trails, the Yucca Canyon Trail is well-designed and constructed.
That being said, it is noticeably less traveled and has a “wilder” vibe to it.
While the trail gains 1,500 feet over 2 miles, it does so as gently as a trail can. Allot plenty of time for this adventure; there is so much to see that it will be a slow process.
Be sure to stop and listen periodically for the sounds of rocks falling—that is an indication that desert bighorn sheep may be up on the nearby cliffs.
Carefully scan the rock faces and the surrounding area: you may be rewarded with a bighorn sighting. The cactus in this beautifully rugged canyon may be adorned with some showy cactus flowers in various shades of pink.
As the very narrow, almost primitive trail ascends, be wary of the many, many beautiful plants that grow along and sometimes infringe upon the trail.
Despite their beauty, nearly every one has extremely sharp parts that are not friendly to human flesh! Once at the top of Yucca Canyon, the terrain becomes nearly flat.
The trail is faint-to-nonexistent on this plateau, but it is clearly marked with numerous rock cairns.
A mile of hiking along this flat terrain will take view-seekers to a jaw-dropping vista of Double Canyon.
This makes a great spot for a leisurely lunch before turning around and heading back. On the descent of Yucca Canyon, the views open up spectacularly.
From a distance, there is a massive rock formation that looks like a huge shark fin.
Stop frequently to drink in the views as you drink water! This 6-mile out-and-back route may not be long, but it is likely to be extremely HOT.
This is true backcountry desert hiking, so it is important to be prepared with the 10 essentials and PLENTY of water! From Highway 62/180, follow the signs to Slaughter Canyon.
Where the road to the Slaughter Canyon parking lot crosses the park boundary, take the dirt road heading west (left) parallel to a fence line. https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm