While El Paso may not be a massive city it still has some big cities ‘charms,’ like the rush hour, crowds, and noise.
El Paso has the benefit of mountains in the middle of the city. The Franklin Mountains separate the city into an Eastside and Westside. This means you’re never more than a short drive from a trailhead, and you can escape the city for a little while without actually having to leave the city. Plus, there’s great exercise to be had.
If you are looking for some interesting history, Mount Cristo Rey is just a short drive away, in Sunland Park, NM. It is about a four-and-a-half-mile hike to the top, where you will encounter amazing views of both El Paso and Juárez, Mexico. The statue is 29ft tall and was built in 1939. It is isolated from El Paso and is difficult to find, so be sure to call or look online for directions.
Juárez, Mexico, a city of 1.5 million people, has long been known as a city with great nightlife. Unfortunately, the violence that peaked in 2006 destroyed much of city’s after-hours activities. The violence has been decreasing since 2012, and people are starting to enjoy the legendary city once again. Bars, restaurants, and clubs are all now reopening as a result of the push from the locals to create a vibrant new environment. With everything from cheap movies to hip bars, you will not find yourself bored in Juárez. It’s cheap, too; a local once said, ‘With three dollars, I have money to blow in Juárez.’
Hueco Tanks State Park is a great place for rock climbing, hiking, or a day in the sun. The rock climbing has attracted people from all over the country. If climbing isn’t your forte, there are short hikes and guided tours of the cave paintings. The paintings are considered historical, and many were destroyed by modern day graffiti, so they are available for viewing only through guided tours, which must be scheduled by phone. Hueco Tanks is a great place to take a lunch and spend an afternoon or even a whole day. If it gets too hot, there are plenty of rock outcroppings where you can take a nap or read a book.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to the tallest peak in Texas and is the ‘world’s premier example of fossil reef’ according the website. You can find interesting fossils while walking to your campsite or during your day hike. The park is full of West Texas wildlife, beautiful views, and interesting history. Less than two hours from El Paso, it’s great for a weekend trip with the family or friends.
If you decide to make the trip to Mesilla, taking the back roads through the pecan farms will make the drive worth it. The long stretches of pecan trees — creating a natural tunnel — is a rare site to see in the desert. Mesilla itself is a fun little town with a historic plaza, ‘Old Mesilla.’ There are farmers’ markets on Fridays and Sundays, selling everything from handcrafted jewelry to homemade and locally grown foods. If the farmers’ market isn’t enough, there are plenty of shops that surround the plaza, as well as guided tours.
Sparkys is the location of the ‘world famous green chili cheese burger,’ according to its website. If there’s one thing New Mexico and West Texas are famous for, it’s putting green chili on and in everything. Sparkys takes that to the extreme with a large variety of green chili–infused food, including a green chili milk shake. If spiciness doesn’t cause your taste buds to tingle, there are plenty of ‘normal’ items on the menu, as well as interesting décor and live music on some occasions. Located in Hatch, NM, Sparkys is just over an hour’s drive from El Paso, making it an easy day trip.
With 275 square miles of coverage, White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest deposit of gypsum sand, creating rolling dunes for miles and miles. This is truly a beautiful place to visit and admire sand that looks like fallen snow. It’s a great place to take the kids for a day while you relax, read a book, get a tan, or go on a hike. Be sure to check the website before going, as the park is often closed when White Sands Missile Range is performing missile tests.
If you are looking for a weekend get away, Marfa might just be the place for you. Historically a watering stop for the railroad, Marfa was turned into a small art community by an artist named Donald Judd back in the ’70s. People from around the world visit this unique community. The town has plenty of great food and live music, and historical Fort Davis and Alpine (home of Big Bend Brewery) are just a short drive away.
Whether you need some alone time in a cabin in the woods or you want to do some skiing in the winter, Ruidoso has you covered. There are plenty of cabins to rent for a romantic getaway for you and that special someone. If you feel like something more active, there is skiing and snowboarding during the winter (at Ski Apache) and hiking during the summer. Or maybe you just want to play some slots or a game of Texas Hold’em at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino. Whatever your preference, there is plenty to explore in Ruidoso.