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!

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
6900 Hueco Tanks Rd.
(915) 857-1135

Challenge yourself with a world class bouldering site, popular with many across the world, at one of the most historic sites in Texas. Just a 45-minute drive east from downtown El Paso, Hueco Tanks, one of the most historical sites in Texas, because of its pictographs and its use as a stagecoach stop along the old Butterfield Trail, is a haven for rock climbers from around the world. Climbing, hiking, rock art, and birding tours are held regularly. Bouldering does not require a rope or safety net, simply problem-solving skills and stamina. The North Mountain is perfect however can get very full, hence the need for reservations. Other mountains are forbidden without a guide. You do have the option of getting a guide from Rock Ranch. It is a $20.00 fee, but well worth it. If you choose to use a Rock Ranch guide you do not have to pay the $5.00 entry fee. Camping is available. Access is limited to control crowd size, and reservations are strongly recommended even for daytime visits.

Fee: $7 per day, per person 13 and older 12 and under are Free Hours: Winter (October 1st through April 30th): 8.00 am – 6.00 pm Summer (May 1st through September 30): 7:00 am – 7:00 pm (Fri-Sun); 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (Mon-Thurs) Bouldering and Hiking Tours: Wednesdays-Sundays by advance request 9:00am and 11:00am during the summer (May 1 – September 30) 9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am and 2:00pm during the winter (October 1 – April 30th)

Directions/Description: Off I-10, exit Airway and make a right on Montana Ave. You will travel down Montana for 38 miles. Keep an eye out for the white space craft building and make a left on Hueco Tanks Road. Go down this road for about 7 miles, the state park is going to be on your left.

Keystone Heritage & Desert Botanical Park

Keystone Heritage Park is home to the third sculpture of the XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest – Susan Magoffin. Susan Magoffin’s 7-foot bronze statue is the first woman of historical significance and third statue to be included in the XII Travelers series. It was unveiled on June 2, 2012. Despite the dangers of travel with the Mexican American war just beginning Susan Magoffin still made the expedition into Mexico and until 1987 it was believed she was the first Anglo-American woman to travel the Santa Fe trail. Coming from a wealthy family she was able to travel with plenty comforts of home and took her servant Jane and greyhound dog Mr. Ring along with her. She kept a journal of her travels almost daily from June 1846 until 1847 and it remains a valuable record on the development of the west and provides a unique woman’s perspective of the times.

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.
915-534-0600
 

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

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!

White Sands National Monument
Photograph by White Sands National Monument
19955 Hwy 70 West
(505) 479-6124

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.

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