West Texas has a reputation of being vast and remote, where the tumbleweeds are plentiful and the people are few and far between. However, if you start exploring West Texas, you’ll soon realize it’s far from empty.
Most people have heard of the tiny, eccentric art community of Marfa. Plenty of Texans have also visited Big Bend National Park. Even if you think you know West Texas though, you might not know about Hueco Tanks. If not, here are some things you should know about Hueco Tanks and a few reasons to visit.
The Story Behind the Name “Hueco”
Hueco Tanks State Park is a very special place. The name “Hueco” comes from the Spanish word for “hole” and refers to the natural pools that form in the hollows of the land. Hueco Tanks is located about 30 miles northeast of El Paso, between the Franklin Mountains and the Hueco Mountains (yes, we have mountains in Texas). These natural pools hold enough water so that junipers and live oaks are able to grow in what would otherwise be inhospitable desert land.
Ancient Rock Art
One of the main draws of Hueco Tanks is the rock art. Deep within the mountains, you will find ancient cave drawings made by the earliest residents of this state. Scientists aren’t certain of the exact age of the drawings, but they are sure to be thousands of years old. Unlike the drawings in the Pecos region, the Hueco Tanks rock art is wildly diverse and difficult to find without a map. The drawings differ in both style and medium, and are indicative of many cultures. They depict humans and animals, as well as crops, geometric designs and religious figures.
Another good reason to visit Hueco Tanks is the Hueco Rock Rodeo. The Hueco Rock Rodeo is a rock-climbing event that is held every year in February. This year, it takes place on Feb. 10-12. Hueco Tanks is one of the most popular locations in Texas for a form of rock climbing known as “bouldering.” Bouldering is different from rock climbing because it involves scaling shorter heights without the use of a safety harness.
Birding, Camping and Hiking
Along with bouldering and historical interests, Hueco Tanks is the perfect place for birding, hiking, camping or stargazing. However, you shouldn’t just drop in. The park is a protected area, and is highly regulated by the state. Hueco Tanks is divided into guided and self-guided areas. The only way to see the guided areas is by prearranged tour. The self-guided areas are limited to 70 people at a time, and reservations are recommended. You can make reservations by calling (512) 389-8911.