Things To Do

State and National Parks

Balmorhea State Park
Photograph by Balmorhea State Park

Known as the Oasis in the Desert, Balmorhea is the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. Visitors enjoy swimming, scuba diving and more. With water temps in the mid 70’s year-round, a trip to this historic park is appropriate any time of the year!

Big Bend Region
Photograph by Visit Big Bend

Big Bend is home to a few remarkable communities: Marathon, Study Butte, Terlingua Ghost Town, Lajitas, and Big Bend National Park. We highly recommend setting some time aside to visit these unique communities as they each possess their own unique charm and distinct experience. Accommodations range from convenient and comfortable to resort luxury. Guided outdoor activities such as hiking, jeep tours, horseback riding, river tours and more can be arranged via one of the local experienced outfitters. Big Bend is a diverse region with endless possibilities for adventure and discovery. Make sure to download the Big Bend Mobile App-an audio tour guide right in your hands!

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Photograph by National Park Service New Mexico
3225 National Parks Highway
(505) 785-2232

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.

Franklin Mountains State Park
Tom Mays Park Access Rd.
(915) 566-6441

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.

Camping Stay at one of our campsites in the Tom Mays Unit. Walk to one of 14 tent sites, or park at one of five RV sites. Rent a group camp area for your next gathering. Campsites do not have water or electricity; bring enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Call the park to reserve sites.

Rock Climbing Climb at the designated area in McKelligon Canyon or at Sneed’s Cory in the Tom Mays Unit. Bring your own equipment. Stay safe and follow best practices for climbing.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
400 Pine Canyon Rd..
(915) 828-3251

Located 110 miles east of El Paso, 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. 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 Park & Historic Site

Seen as a paradise for world-class climbing and archeological research, Hueco Tanks encompasses three low mountains that rise 6,787 feet above sea level. Its structure once sheltered tribes such as the Jornada Mogollan People, Mescalero Apaches and Tigua Indians, giving them a stronghold. Here, thousands of rock and cave paintings of masks and stories can be observed. The famous structure of this arroyo provides unique hollows, or huecos, that capture rainwater. For a dry and weary land, Hueco Tanks can hold pockets of water for months at a time while the Chihuahua Desert lays baked. Known as the best spot for bouldering in the world, the ideal time to visit is November through March when it is not as hot.

The crown jewel of the southern Rockies, the Organ Mountains encompass extremely rugged terrain with a multitude of steep-sided crevices, canyons, spires, and several perennial springs. Organ Needle is the high point in the complex, topping out at slightly less than 9,000 feet in elevation. In a mere three miles to the west, the elevation drops over 4,000 feet, making the Organ Mountains one of the steepest mountain ranges in the western US. Most residents and visitors to Las Cruces are impressed with the picturesque backdrop to the city provided by the towering peaks of the Organs, so named because of the steep, needle-like spires that resemble the pipes of an organ.

Transmountain Road
Photograph by Transmountain Road
Transmountain Rd.

Passing through the protected Franklin Mountain State Park, Transmountain Road is perfectly situated for glorious shows at day’s break and end. Watching an El Paso sunset, especially from Transmountain Road is something that certainly defines a true El Paso experience. Several picnic tables with awnings are offered along the road. The road connects Northeast and Northwest El Paso, so accessing the road is convenient no matter the side of town.

White Sands National Park

Located between Doña Ana and Otero County, The White Sands National Monument is without a doubt, the Chihuahuan Desert’s best-known tourist attraction. Appearing as a bright white spot in the middle of an otherwise beige landscape, the dunes are as beautiful as they are enigmatic. Visitors are free to admire all 225-square miles of the park from the comfort of their cars, on numerous wood plank paths, or even in the dunes themselves. In addition to strolling about, you can bring sleds or snowboards and slide down the sandy hills–seriously! If one day simply isn’t enough, you and the whole gang can stay overnight at the camping site. While there’s no wrong time to visit White Sands, we strongly recommend that you catch either a sunrise or sunset, there’s really nothing quite like it. Make sure to check out the museum and gift shop before you leave!

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