Less than an hour from El Paso, nestled within West Texas’s rolling, jagged rock basin lies the spectacular Hueco Tanks State Park.
The perfect place to explore the great outdoors, this Texas state park is known for the huecos (natural basins) that are found within it.
Best explored via miles of hiking trails that meander their way through it, rock climbing is also a popular activity here. With many faces available for both beginners and seasoned climbers alike to tackle.
The park is also a birder’s paradise with more than 200 species calling it home, either on a permanent or seasonal basis. While the interpretive center, which resides in an old ranch house, provides a fascinating insight into the history of the area and its native wildlife. As well as also highlighting the stunning 6000 year old wall paintings that are prominent throughout it.
Although small, the campground here offers RV sites with hookups for water and 50-amp electricity. It also sits in the shadows of the imperious East Mountains, which gives you a magnificent view to wake up to every day.
For the visitor, the park offers a myriad of ways to enjoy and immerse yourself in its spectacular scenery.
Here are just a handful of the many things you can engage in during your time there.
Hiking at Hueco Tanks State Park
For those who enjoy hiking the park provides plenty of opportunities to explore its magnificent surroundings.
Blessed with a number of geological wonders, the various natural water basins that have formed around the park are flanked by scenic hillsides and stunning rock faces.
While there are miles of trails for you to explore, it’s a good idea to go on one of the guided hikes that are run by the park rangers. As they will provide you with a greater insight into the flora, fauna and history of the area in which you are traversing.
Rock Climbing at Hueco Tanks State Park
The stunning natural rock basins create wonderful opportunities for rock climbing.
Climbs vary in terms of degrees of difficulty, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a suitable one for you, regardless of your level of fitness and ability.
For those who do attempt a climb there are several lookout points which can be accessed by climbing the rock faces. These provide you with breathtaking views from atop North Mountain.
Whilst you can climb independently, you might want to engage one of the park rangers in a guided climbing tour. Doing so will enable you to learn more about the natural history of the area and its native people that resided within it.
Please note, the park does not rent out climbing gear. So be sure to bring your own gear with you, including shoes, harnesses, rope and other essential safety equipment.
Picnicking at Hueco Tanks State Park
All that hiking and climbing can be hungry work, so why not take the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing picnic?
Overall, the park has ten picnic areas dotted around its landscape with most of them being nestled among the huecos and lookout spots. This provides a unique and picturesque location to enjoy al fresco dining.
You are welcome to cook your own food at these picnic areas, however, you are not permitted to use charcoal or firewood. These unfortunately, can damage the rock paintings which are situated throughout the park.
Birdwatching at Hueco Tanks State Park
The park is home to over 200 species of birds, most of which are attracted to its natural water basins.
Throughout it there are several lookout spots which provide excellent platforms in which to spot these species, some of whom reside permanently at Hueco Tanks State Park.
The area is renowned for its desert birds, which include the likes of Cassin’s sparrows, Say’s phoebes, white throated swifts and cactus wren.
More information about the birds found in the area can be obtained from the park office. Park rangers also run guided birding hikes too.
Visiting the Interpretive Center at Hueco Tanks State Park
For those wanting to find out more about the history of the park and its surrounding area, the Interpretive Center is a terrific place to visit.
Set within a preserved ranch house, it exhibits details of the geological and natural history of the landscape, as well as the natives who lived within it for many thousands of years.
There is also a gift shop at the center which enables you to book tours and buy souvenirs.
Pets at Hueco Tanks State Park
Pets are welcome in various parts of the park, although there are restrictions on their presence in others.
Should you want to bring your dog with you when you visit Hueco Tanks, it is worth contacting the main office to ascertain where exactly you can take them.
Camping at Hueco Tanks State Park
For those who want to stay overnight at the park there is a small campground available for visitors.
It features 16 campsites that come with hookups for water and 50-amp electricity. These sites are situated near restrooms and each come with their own picnic table.
To complement them, there are also an additional 4 campsites with water available.
The campground is situated on the east side of the park, close to the Chain Trail and features an RV dump station.
As the campground is small it is recommended that you book as far in advance as you can of your visit there.
Please note, soon after your arrival at the park, you will be required to attend a mandatory orientation, during which park officials will explain the campground rules.
Also, the park maintains very strict check-in times, so be sure not to arrive more than an hour prior to the site closing, as you will not be given entry to your site.
Hueco Tanks State Park
6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1,
El Paso, TX 79938
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Hueco Tanks State Park: