The Tip-Tops of Texas
West Texas geography erupts with our state’s top mountain peaks.
Along with prairie landscapes, piney forests and coastal waters, our state has a handful of mountain ranges to explore. Some of the most popular ranges — particularly the Guadalupe Mountains and the Davis Mountains — contain the highest peaks in Texas, rising above 8,000 feet.
The highest point in Texas, also known as “Top of Texas” or Signal Peak, resides in the Guadalupe Mountains, an ancient reef rising abruptly from the Chihuahuan Desert floor. An 8.5-mile out-and-back trail leads to the summit. You can’t get any higher in Texas than this. Hikers can experience varying ecosystems such as desert and forest.
This remote peak, the state’s second-highest, provides extraordinary vistas and radiant sunsets in the Guadalupe Mountains. Along the way, hikers can admire wildflowers; at the summit, soft grasses, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir green up the area. Hikers can also see Pine Springs Canyon, Bartlett Peak, Shumard Peak and Guadalupe Peak via this summit.
This mountain in the Guadalupe Mountains is one of the most difficult journeys in the park, an off-trail thrash through desert terrain. It is the third-highest peak in Texas and has dual personalities: a rough but vegetated desert pyramid on the east and a sheer-faced wall of rock often painted by sun rays on the west.
In the southern end of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, this peak, the fourth-highest mountain in Texas, sits in a line with the three other highest peaks in Texas. Because of the lack of a trail reaching the summit and a profusion of spiky plants like yucca, many visitors miss the opportunity to venture to this peak.
Also known as Baldy Peak, Mount Livermore is the highest summit in the Davis Mountains and consists of igneous rock intrusions. Summit access is monitored by The Nature Conservancy, which owns the northern half of the peak. The southern half is privately owned.
This peak rests in the Guadalupe Mountains across Pine Springs Canyon from Guadalupe Peak. Also known as Pine Top, it is the sixth-highest mountain in Texas and considered one of the most beautiful peaks in the Guadalupes, covered with evergreen trees (white pines, Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs) on the north side and a rugged, desert-like exterior on the south side.
El Capitan is the southernmost peak in the Guadalupe Mountains. Its name comes from the Spanish term for “captain,” which indicates its position of command. This limestone mountain protrudes from the desert floor below, sticking out from the Guadalupes like the bow of a ship.
Another notable Texas mountain is the Chisos Mountains’ Emory Peak, which is the highest peak in Big Bend National Park, with an elevation of 7,825 feet above sea level.
Earl Nottingham | TPWD