Introducing Around El Paso
About 32 miles east of El Paso is Hueco Tanks State Historical Park. The 860-acre park contains three small granite mountains pocked with depressions that capture rainwater – hueco is Spanish for 'hollow' – creating an oasis in the barren desert. The area has attracted humans for as long as 10,000 years, as evidenced by more than 2000 pictographs found within the park, some dating back as much as 5000 years.
To minimize human impact, a daily visitor quota is enforced; make reservations 24 hours in advance to gain entry. At park headquarters you'll find a small gift shop, an interpretive center and 20 campsites ($12 to $16). You can explore the North Mountain area by yourself, but to hike deeper into the park – where the more interesting pictographs are – you have to reserve and join one of the pictograph, birding or bouldering-hiking tours.
If you're a rock climber, chances are you already know about the park. Hueco Tanks ranks among the world's top rock-climbing destinations during the winter months (October through early April), when other prime climbs become inaccessible. During the summer, however, the desert sun generally makes the rocks too hot to handle.