Hueco Tanks State Park
Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site is just 40 miles to the east of El Paso. After spending Sunday in El Paso shopping for groceries, doing laundry, and watching the Superbowl, we headed to the park on Monday morning.
Hueco Tanks is quite a sight after driving through 40 miles of junk yards, rundown houses, and flat scrub rimmed by limestone hills; the park appears as piles of jumbled granite rocks. The name for the park comes from the word for water and the fact that that water is stored in deep granite pockets after rainy periods. Some of those pockets are wet throughout the year so they support perrenial vegetation. The land immediately around the rock mountains is relatively lush with plenty of Arizon White Oak — a variety of “live oak” that covered the area 10,000 years ago in a wetter, cooler time.
In order to protect the rock hills and the pictographs painted on them, the number of people permitted to hike is limited each day and a good part of the park is only open to those with a tour guide. We had no tour guide, but did have an amazing hike. We were welcome to walk down in the “canyons” among the rocks as well as climb to the very top for spectacular views of the surrounding area. There were some pictographs to be seen, but there were more petroglyphs made by “modern man” to be seen. There are an amazing number of rock carvings with the name and date of the carvers. Most of these were done in the 1860s — probably by people riding the stagecoach from St Louis to points West.
There were a fair number of young people “bouldering” on the rocks. This area has become a favorite of rockclimbers all over the USA.
On the walk we enjoyed the site of several families of quail running about under the creosote bushes. In addition to the quail, we saw road runners, wrens, finches, sparrows, and a couple of bunny rabbits. Our camphost suggested we would see and hear long-eared owls in your site, but once again reality did not live up to expectations.