Things To Do
Carlsbad Caverns National Park was established on October 25, 1923 in order to preserve the more than 100 known caves. The Park also contains Lechuguilla Cave, which is the nation's deepest limestone cave at 1,567 feet (478m) and fourth longest.
Towering above the city of El Paso is the Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest state park in an urban setting. Here you can hike rugged terrain in 37 square miles of desert wilderness, scrub vegetation and open space, with 125 miles of multi-use trails that are especially popular with mountain bikers. Camping and picnicking are also available (please, no ground fires, but charcoal fires can be built in grills at the picnic sites). Check the website calendar for special tours, for which reservations are required.
Located 110 miles east of El Paso, 65 miles north of Van Horn, and 55 miles south of Carlsbad, NM, Guadalupe Mountains National Park has been described as one of America's best kept secrets. Created on September 30, 1972, Guadalupe Mountains National Park preserves one of the best examples of Permian-era (260 to 270 million years ago) geology in the world. Formed from a reef in the ancient Delaware Sea, long since dry, the Guadalupe Mountains are one of the exposed sections of the 400 mile long, horseshoe-shaped Capitán Reef, the world's largest exposed fossil reef. The park boasts 46,850 acres of designated-wilderness, the largest wilderness area in Texas, with another 35,484 acres of backcountry that are eligible for wilderness study, and more than 80 miles of trails, about 60% of which are designated for horseback riding. However, you must bring your own stock, as there are no rentals available in the park. Trails range from easy to strenuous, and wind through desert, riparian, wooded and forested areas. Climb to the "Top of Texas," 8,749 foot Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas or explore the Salt Basin Dunes (the park’s lowest point at 3,689’), which contains the second largest gypsum dune field in the US, on the west side of the park, near Dell City. The park has 7 of the 10 highest peaks in Texas. Trails can be steep, rocky and rugged, so wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots.
Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is known for its many American Indian rock paintings and unique geology. Pictograph tours are offered, as well as hiking, picnicking, climbing and camping opportunities. Limited access; reservations recommended. Call for hours of operation and admission fees.
At the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies the world's largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this gypsum dune field, along with the plants and animals that have successfully adapted to this constantly changing environment.
Whether you are situated at 4,692 feet above sea level amongst the majestic Franklin Mountains or atop 5,632 feet above sea level at Ranger Peak, a pic from either location is sure to make your followers envious. With a 7,000 square mile view, finding that perfect pic spot provides no challenge at all.