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Hueco Tanks State Park

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Hueco Tanks State Park
TPWD
Hueco Tanks, a Texas State Park located just outside of El Paso, is one of the top destinations for outdoor recreation in the Lone Star State. This mountainous state park offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities, ranging from birding to hiking, nature watching to rock climbing. However, Hueco Tanks' most popular draw isn't actually an "activity," rather it is the presence of some of the earliest known pictographs in North America that pull most of the visitors into the park. It is the presence of these drawings that have given Hueco Tanks a state historic site designation in addition to its state park status.

Opened in 1970, Hueco Tanks State Park encompasses nearly 900 acres in El Paso County. Its name is derived from the presence of several natural rock basins (huecos) which trap and hold rain water. For hundreds of years, men and animals relied on these huecos as precious water sources in this arid region. The site of the last Indian battle in El Paso County, Hueco Tanks' cave paintings are remnants from Native Americans of a much different time. The earliest cave paintings on the site date back to pre-historic times, while more recent entries are attributed to the Apaches. Hueco Ranch State Park & Historic Site also has a historic ranch house (which now serves as the park's interpretive center) and remnants of a stage coach station within its confines.

The clear, night skies over Hueco Tanks have made the park a popular spot for stargazing. During the daylight hours, hiking, bird watching and nature observation (gray foxes, bobcats, prairie falcons, golden eagles, and a variety of lizards are all present in the park) are all popular activities. However, the biggest draw when it comes to outdoor activities is rock climbing. Among climbing circles, Hueco Tanks has developed a reputation as one of the best locations in Texas. When it comes to climbing, everyone from beginners to advanced climbers can find a spot of interest within Hueco Tanks State Park.

Those wishing to stay overnight can expect to find campsites with water and/or electricity available. The park also has restrooms with and without showers, as well as picnic areas and an amphitheater. WiFi connectivity is available is some areas of the park. If you are going to be needing WiFi during your stay at Hueco Tanks, be sure and ask at the park office so the staff can direct you to the best locations to get a strong signal. Also be advised that firewood and charcoal are not permitted within the park.

Although visitors to the park are able to take part in any of these available activities on a "do-it-yourself" basis, there are several free tours that are included with park admission. Among the tours offered are pictograph tours, hiking tours, bouldering tours, and birding tours. Again, all of these activities are available on a self-guided basis, but these guided tours are offered at no additional fee. Some of the areas used for guided tours are not available to the public on a non-guided basis. Pets are not allowed on the park's trails or tours.

Getting to the park is simple enough. The best way is by traveling 32 miles northeast of El Paso on US Highway 62/180, then turning north on Ranch Road 2775. Visitors wishing to visit more than one state park or historic site while in the area should also consider nearby Franklin Mountains State Park and/or the Magoffin State Historic Site.

Because many of the park's areas and activities have a limited capacity, reservations are recommended, even for day-use visitors. For more information on Hueco Tanks State Park or to make reservations, call 915-857-1135 or visit their website via the link below.

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