El Paso is located in the far western portion of Texas. One thing that makes the city stand out from the rest of the US state of Texas is its breathtaking desert landscapes. In fact, El Paso resembles the southwestern US states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada far more than it does the rest of Texas. If you are an outdoors person who is looking to take in the scenery that it has to offer, here are a few things to do in El Paso, TX.
Franklin Mountains State Park
Franklin Mountains State Park covers a great deal of north central El Paso. This is the largest urban park in the United States at 24,247 acres. This urban park is home to El Paso’s highest mountain peak, North Franklin Peak, which stands at an elevation of 7,192 feet. If you are skilled at hiking, you can hike up to North Franklin Peak in order to have a sweeping view of El Paso.
The urban park contains over 100 miles of trails for hiking or mountain bicycling. The plants at the urban park are native to the north Chihuahuan Desert of which El Paso is located. These include lechuguilla, sotol, ocotillo, yuccas, and cacti. Franklin Mountains State Park is the only place in Texas where the southwestern barrel cactus plants can be found.
Wildlife observers with a pair of eagle eyes will want to be on the lookout for mule deer, squirrels, coyotes, and one of the elusive mountain lions. Bird watchers will want to head to the bird blind in the Tom Mays Unit section of the urban park. There, you can observe various species of birds including golden eagles, ash-throated flycatchers, calliope hummingbirds, and pyrrhuloxia.
There are a total of over 100 species of birds who live or visit the urban park. If you are seeking a scenic drive, you can go on Texas Route 375 which snakes its way through the urban park. This highway is also known as Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive. There is an entrance fee of $5 to the urban park for those who are aged 13 and above. Those aged under 13 can enter for free.
Also, if you would like to spend a night at the urban park, there are a total of 14 campsites located in the Tom Mays Unit section. Just be aware though that there are no water or electricity at any of the campsites.
Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site is located on Hueco Tanks Road Number 1 in northeastern El Paso. This is a state park filled with impressive history. A long time ago for a few thousand year, people would flock to this site because of the rainwater that was pooled inside natural ruck basins known as huecos.
Today, the huecos are the signature natural features at this state park. They still trap rainwater into them and keep them there for a few days to a few months at a time. That turns the huecos into oases for water.
The state park contain impressive rock markings that were left by the ancient people who once came there for the trapped rainwater. The rock markings date back thousands of years. Rock climbers, in particular, will appreciate the state park because it provides ample opportunities for them to rock climb.
In fact, this state park is widely regarded as one of the best in the world for bouldering because of the granite-like igneous material that the climbing rocks are created from. Once you reach the top of the rocks, you will be treated to a variety of breathtaking views including the huecos, the low mountains, and the desert floor.
There are a couple things for you to be aware of. Three of the four section of this state park can only be visited with a tour guide. These sections are West Mountain, East Mountain, and East Spur. The only section that can be visited without a tour guide is North Mountain. Even in this section, only 70 people can be there at a time.
The reason for all of this is because the many rock markings located throughout the state park are fragile and can easily be damaged if not treated with care. I would suggest you to make a reservation to ensure that you can visit the state park when you arrive. In order to do so, you can go here. The entrance fee is $7 for adults and those aged 13 and up. Entrance is free for those aged 12 and under.
You can also visit the state park’s onsite interpretive center which is located inside a historic ranch house. You can learn about the park and its history there. A gift shop is also located onsite.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
If you are willing to drive around 1 hour and 45 minutes east of El Paso via US Highway 62, you will arrive at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The national park is home to the highest mountain peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. The peak stand at an elevation of 8,749 feet. The national park is home to the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef.
There are over 80 miles of hiking trails in total at this national park. There are four main trails I would like to note here. The first trail is the Devil’s Hall Trail. This trail is about 3.8 miles long round-trip. The main highlights of this trail are the natural rock staircases and the hallway formed by steep canyon walls. The second trail to note is the Smith Spring Loop.
This trail is about 2.3 miles long round-trip and goes around in a loop. On this trail, you will hike through landscapes that change from desert scrub to riparian vegetation. The third trail is called the McKittrick Canyon Trail. The length of the trail varies depending on which branch of the trail you are looking to hike, but it ranges from as short as 1.1 miles to as long as 7.6 miles round-trip.
Overall, this trail will have you hiking through riparian vegetation, stream crossings, and along the bottom of the canyon before setting you on a climb to McKittrick Ridge. The fourth trail is the Guadalupe Peak Trail. This is the longest and most challenging trail. This trail is about 8.5 miles long round-trip and will have you hiking all the way to the top of Guadalupe Peak.
You will hike through a conifer forest on this trail. If you manage to make it all the way to the top of Guadalupe Peak, you will have mind-blowing views of the overall desert landscape stretching to the west and south. If you wish to spend a night at this national park, there are two campground to choose from. They are Pine Spring and Dog Canyon.
There is an entrance fee of $10 for those aged 16 and above. Those who are aged under 16 can enter the national park for free.
These are the things to do in El Paso, TX if you are into the outdoors. You will be able to take in the natural beauty of the desert during your time in El Paso.
The Hotels In El Paso
If you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight at during your El Paso visit, I am happy to help you out with that. Here are the two hotels that I would suggest you to stay at.
Ramada by Wyndham El Paso
This hotel is located at the intersection of Gateway Boulevard East and Lomaland Drive in El Paso. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you are hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Julio’s Mexican Food, Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet, and Whataburger. There is an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. You can do your workout at the hotel’s fitness center.
All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi and kitchenettes. The average rate for a standard room range from $66 to $85. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
Hampton Inn & Suites El Paso/East
This hotel is located on Gateway Boulevard West in El Paso. There is complimentary breakfast and a snack bar at the hotel. For the hungry, a few nearby dining options include BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Five Guys, and Corner Bakery Cafe. There is an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center available at the hotel.
All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers. The suites also have wet bars in them. The average rate for a standard room range from $126 to $241. You can go here to book your stay and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of the parks in El Paso in the past? Feel free to leave a comment here.