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Framed by the Hueco and Franklin mountains, Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site lies in the high-altitude desert basin to the east of El Paso. It’s a convenient base for rock climbing and hiking, as well as discovering the cultural and historical attractions of western Texas.
RV camping at Hueco Tanks State Park includes access to around 20 sites, with 50-amp electric and water hookups available at some. There’s a dump station, as well as hot showers, clean restrooms, and several picnic areas.
A highlight of camping at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site is its access to the rock paintings of the region, many of which are thousands of years old. The earliest paintings are believed to have been done by the members of the Desert Archaic Culture between 6000 and 3000 BC. Learn about their significance in the Jornada religion in praying for rain, with the rain god, Tlaloc, and Quetzalcoatl depicted in many of the rock paintings. Hueco Tanks boasts the largest concentration of mask paintings by Native Americans in North America and is of spiritual significance to the Mescalero Apache, the Kiowa, the Hopi, and the Pueblo people.
Hueco Tanks State Park is also a popular bouldering destination, with rock climbers flocking here from near and far during the climbing season (October to March). Some areas of the park are only accessible as part of a tour or with a commercial guide, although the North Mountain can be climbed independently. Coincide your visit with the February Hueco Rock Rodeo, an outdoor bouldering competition that sees some of the world’s best climbers tackling the region’s rock faces. While you’re exploring the park, keep your eyes peeled for migratory waterfowl and songbirds, together with coyotes, mountain lions, and black bears.
The Hueco Tanks State Park is also a good base for visiting Franklin Mountains State Park, which lies directly north of El Paso and is just a short drive west of the RV park. It encompasses 27,000 acres of high-desert terrain that provides a spectacular recreational setting, with everything from hiking to mountain biking and rock climbing on offer. Stretch your legs along the more than 100 miles of hiking trails, get active on the multi-use mountain biking trails or test your rock climbing skills in the McKelligon Canyon or Sneed’s Cory.
Campsites at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site are just 15 minutes’ drive from Homestead Meadows South on the eastern edge of El Paso. There are supermarkets here where you can stock up on groceries and gas stations if you need to fill up your RV rental. For those nights when you don't feel like cooking, there are also a handful of cafes and Mexican-style eateries in Homestead Meadows South, or you can continue driving west towards El Paso, where you’ll find a more extensive choice of restaurants.
While you’re in El Paso, don’t miss a visit to the historical Plaza Theatre, which was constructed in 1930 in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and still showcases live performances. If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to spend an afternoon at the El Paso Zoo, where you can come face-to-face with animals from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. There’s a massive treehouse playground that kids will love and a range of interactive experiences held throughout the day.
Art enthusiasts should head to the El Paso Museum of Art, which is home to an outstanding collection of American, European, and Mexican art. Many date from as early as the 12th century and include a large number of works by Southwest artists. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, make a beeline for the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso, where more than 800 native plant species are showcased.
You can also spend a day exploring the El Paso Historic Mission Trail, which winds its way through the Lower Valley and features three adobe churches that date back 400 years. They’re a striking legacy of the region’s Spanish colonial past and include the 1682 Ysleta Mission, the late-18th-century San Elizario Chapel, and the Socorro Mission that reflects the culture and politics of El Paso’s early settlers. Or, visit the Chamizal National Memorial, which commemorates the settlement of the long-standing boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico. Aside from a history museum and an art gallery, it also features an impressive mural that depicts the story. End your day soaking up the panoramic views across El Paso and Ciudad Juarez along the scenic drive that winds its way up the east side of Franklin Mountain.
Whether you want to discover the region’s Native American history or get cultured in El Paso, book an RV rental in El Paso County and start planning your visit.