Although I’ve been a lifelong citizen of El Paso, I’ve only made my first visit to Hueco Tanks State Historic Site this year. I had heard from family and friends about the beautiful scenery and the different “huecos” meaning hollows in Spanish, referring to the often water filled “tanks” that are found in the mountains rock faces throughout the park.
Last month my family and I made the short drive out to Montana Ave. to visit the historic site. We are avid bird watchers and were more drawn to the area because of the notable species of our feathered friends that frequent the area.
Hueco Tanks is about 30 to 40 miles from El Paso depending on which side of town you live on. It took us less than an hour to get there.
Besides the many opportunities for birding, Hueco Tanks offers adventures of all types for individuals or families. The site is popular for bouldering (rock climbing) and hosts an annual event known as the Hueco Rock Rodeo in February.
If you plan to go be prepared with the proper attire, especially during the summer months. Sunblock is a must. Comfortable shoes for hiking and moderate climbing if you feel adventurous. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water with you to stay hydrated.
During our visit it was hot! However, we were pleasantly surprised by the many cool and shady spots offered by the various rock formations and “caves” that we found when we climbed to explore the mountain.
Upon entering the site, if you are a first-time visitor in addition to paying the entrance fee, (at the time of our visit was $7 for adults) and anyone over the age of 13 is considered to be an adult — FYI. We were also required to watch a 20-minute video about the history of Hueco Tanks. Safety information and an opportunity to ask the park rangers for guidance or advice on where to begin your adventure, depending on what you are there for. After completion of the video you are given a “pass” that is good for one year and you no longer need to sit through the video for each visit.
Our kids are homeschooled, and every opportunity we have to learn something new is always exciting. This visit for us was our end of the school year field trip. We learned about the Native Americans who were visitors to the area, and were surprised to learn that the site’s history goes even further back than them. Dating as far back as 10,000 years!
The pictographs and “modern graffiti” that we were able to see in the rock formations spread throughout the site were sparse and honestly a little difficult to see. The more visible ones are most likely in the currently restricted areas in order to preserve these ancient relics. What we were able to see was exciting enough in itself to make us feel as if we had traveled back in time. We learned that the site was previously a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route, and we understood why it became a popular spot to stop and rest while getting some much-needed shade from the desert heat of West Texas.
As much as we enjoyed our visit, we plan on returning during the winter months to get a different experience than what we did during the heat of May.
We've heard that it's a great spot for stargazing at night since it's so far from the lights of the city.
Overall, it was a great place for a family adventure and picnic. We all learned so much about a hidden gem that is right in our own backyard of El Paso.
Have you been to Hueco Tanks State Historic Site?
What other #HiddenGems have you found in or around El Paso, TX?
Let me know in the comments!