US Route 62/US Route 180 between El Paso, Texas and Carlsbad, New Mexico passes through the Guadalupe Mountains. The Guadalupe Mountains comprise the highest peaks of Texas which are largely protected as part Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The automotive highway through the Guadalupe Mountains was constructed in the late 1920s as part of Texas State Road 54. US Route 62 was extended from Carlsbad through the Guadalupe Mountains to El Paso during 1932. US Route 62 was joined in the Guadalupe Mountains by US Route 180 in 1943. The Guadalupe Mountains comprise a portion of the 130 mile "No Services" zone on US Route 62/US Route 180 between El Paso-Carlsbad.
Part 1; the history of US Route 62 and US Route 180 in the Guadalupe Mountains
The Guadalupe Mountains lie within the states of Texas and New Mexico. The Guadalupe Mountains essentially is a southern extension of the larger Rocky Mountains. The Guadalupe Mountains is the highest range in Texas with the peak elevation point being the 8,751 feet above sea level at Guadalupe Peak.
The Guadalupe Mountains were once occupied by the Mescalero Apache prior to the range becoming part of a trans-continental emigrant route. Pinery Station was established at Guadlupe Pass in 1858 as a stagecoach house. Pinery Station was located at what had been surveyed as an Army camp during 1849.
Pinery Station was used as a relay house by the Butterfield Overland Mail Route between September 1858 and August 1859. The stage route west of Guadalupe Pass was difficult to the presence of large salt flats known as the Guadalupe Lakes. The Butterfield Overland Mail Route took a significant detour northwest into the vicinity of modern Dell City where it entered New Mexico. Pinery Station was bypassed in 1859 in favor of a new routing to south via Fort Davis and Fort Stockton.
The stage route through the Guadalupe Mountains can be seen on 1860 Johnson & Browning Map.
The Butterfield Overland Mail Route trail is now maintained by the National Park Service and can be observed on the Park Service map.
The highway between Van Horn north to the New Mexico state line near the Guadalupe Mountains was first proposed as part of Texas State Highway 10 in 1917. In 1919 Texas State Highway 12 was designated a new corridor which originated at the New Mexico state line on the western flank of the Guadalupe Mountains near El Paso Gap. Texas State Highway 12 followed a portion of the existing Butterfield Overland Main Route through the Guadalupe Mountains and continued southward towards Van Horn. Texas State Highway 12 south from Van Horn towards the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass. Texas State Highway 12 can be seen in the New Mexico state line-Van Horn corridor on the 1924 Rand McNally Auto Trails Map.
During August 1923, Texas State Highway 54 was designated from Alpine west to Van Horn. During July 1924, Texas State Highway 54 replaced Texas State Highway 12 north of Van Horn to the New Mexico state line. The new extension of Texas State Highway 54 was intended by the Texas State Highway Commission to connect to New Mexico State Road 18 near Guadalupe Pass for the purposes of creating a new direct highway to Carlsbad.
Following the creation of the US Route System by the American Association of State Highways Officials (AASHO) during November 1926 what was Texas State Highway 54 was from Alpine west to Van Horn was consumed by US Route 90. Texas State Highway 54 can be seen ending at New Mexico near El Paso Gap on the 1927 National Company Map. From the end of Texas State Highway 54 traffic is shown to have followed Queen Highway (formerly New Mexico State Road 24 east of Queen) towards Carlsbad. New Mexico State Road 18 can be seen ending at the Texas state line southwest of Carlsbad. The 1927 era definition of New Mexico State Road 18 included the new highway southwest of Carlsbad to the Texas state line.
During January 1928 the new Carlsbad Caverns Highway was designated as Texas State Highway 130. Texas State Highway 130 was aligned from El Paso east to Texas State Highway 54 at the foot the Guadalupe Mountains. During 1930 AASHO approved the creation of US Route 62 originating in Carlsbad and ending Maysville, Kentucky. US Route 62 began at New Mexico State Road 2 in Carlsbad. From Carlsbad, US Route 62 multiplex New Mexico State Road 18 east to the vicinity of Tatum. From Tatum, US Route 62 continued to the Texas state line multiplexed on New Mexico State Road 13.
The below letter from the New Mexico State Highway Department to the AASHO Executive Secretary dated to July 21, 1930, acknowledged the presence of US Route 62 from Carlsbad east to the Texas state line.
The combined corridors of Texas State Highway 130, a realigned Texas State Highway 54 over Guadalupe Pass (via Guadalupe Canyon) and New Mexico State Road 18 can be seen forming a continuous El Paso-Carlsbad highway on the 1931 Clausons Map of Texas. US Route 62 can be seen branching east of Carlsbad to the Texas state line.
US Route 62 was extended to El Paso during 1932 west of Carlsbad via New Mexico State Road 18, Texas State Highway 54 in the Guadalupe Mountains and Texas State Highway 130. The extension of US Route 62 was made without a formal application to AASHO. This seems to suggest that US Route 62 was always intended to end in El Paso upon being commissioned in 1930 but the roads west of Carlsbad were not yet fully complete.
During January 1936 the designation of Texas State Highway 130 was extended over what had been US Route 62/Texas State Highway 54 to the New Mexico state line through the Guadalupe Mountains. The multiplex of US Route 62/Texas State Route 130 from US Route 80 in El Paso to the New Mexico state line can be seen on the 1937 Gousha Map of Texas.
During September 1939 the designation of Texas State Highway 130 was dropped and left US Route 62 as a standalone routing. US Route 62 can be seen as a standalone highway from El Paso east to the New Mexico state line on the 1940 Rand McNally Map of Texas.
A letter from the AASHO Executive Secretary to the Texas State Highway Department noted the second iteration of US Route 180 became effective on July 6, 1943. US Route 180 was to be routed from Albany, Texas west to El Paso via Carlsbad. From the New Mexico state line west of Carlsbad, the routing of US Route 180 was to be concurrent with US Route 62 through the Guadalupe Mountains.
US Route 62 and US Route 180 are displayed as being concurrent in the El Paso-Carlsbad corridor on the 1944 Rand McNally Map of Texas.
The original routing of US Route 62 and US Route 180 passed through Guadalupe Canyon north of Texas State Highway 54 towards Pipe Spring. This early alignment can be seen in detail on the 1958 United State Geological Survey Map of Van Horn.
Congress approved the designation of Guadalupe Mountains National Park on September 30, 1972. The modernized alignment of US Route 62 and US Route 180 bypassing Guadalupe Canyon can be seen for the first time on the 1973 United States Geological Survey Map of Guadalupe Pass.
Part 2; a drive on US Route 62 and US Route 180 in the Guadalupe Mountains
Pictured are the salt flats of the Guadalupe Lakes which are now bridged by US Route 62/US Route 180. The Guadalupe Lakes lie mostly in Hudsbeth County
Along US Route 62/US Route 180 east of the salt flats enters Culberson County. From the highway one can observe the is numerous ruins of a service station.
US Route 62/US Route 180 intersects Texas State Highway 54 at the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains. From the junction traffic is advised Carlsbad Caverns is 51 miles to the east whereas the city of Carlsbad is 64 miles.
US Route 62/US Route 180 begins to climb into the Guadalupe Mountains. The modern highway alignment bypasses the earlier grade through Guadalupe Canyon (seen in the seventh photo below).
US Route 62/US Route 180 continues to ascend and passes over the earlier Guadalupe Canyon alignment a second time (ninth photo below next to the National Park information sign).
US Route 62/US Route 180 passes through an excavated grade to Guadalupe Pass. An overlook of Guadalupe Peak is access in the pass.
US Route 62/US Route 180 enters the boundary of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Upon entering the National Park traffic can use the Pinery Trail behind the Pipe Spring Visitor Center to access the ruins of Pinery Station.
As US Route 62/US Route 180 departs Guadalupe Mountains National Park traffic is advised it is 40 miles from Carlsbad Caverns and 51 miles from the city of Carlsbad.
US Route 62/US Route 180 beings to swing away from the Guadalupe Mountains and intersects Farm to Market Road 652 near the New Mexico state line.
US Route 62/US Route 180 enters Eddy County, New Mexico and expands to a four-lane expressway.
US Route 62/US Route 180 intersects Eddy County Route 424.
US Route 62/US Route 180 intersects Eddy County Route 418. Eddy County Route 418 can be used to access the Rattle Snake Springs picnic area and the Slaughter Canyon Cave of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
US Route 62/US Route 180 crosses the Black River and intersects Eddy County Route 724.
US Route 62/US Route 180 enters Whites City and intersects New Mexico State Road 7. New Mexico State Road 7 can be used to reach the main cave of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains.
From the terminus of New Mexico State Road 7 traffic is advised that El Paso is 136 miles to the west on US Route 62/US Route 180.
Traffic departing Whites City on US Route 62/US Route 180 towards El Paso is notified there are "No Services" for 130 miles. This is the second longest "No Services" corridor in the US Route System behind US Route 6 between Ely-Tonopah in Nevada.