Hueco Tanks State Park is a historical place, visited and inhabited in the past by the American Indian tribes of Tigua, Kiowa and Apache. It is one of the rare places on Earth where one can still find American Indians’ pictographs.
Translated from Spanish the word “hueco” means “hollow” and stands for the multiple hollow pits and cavities in the stones, which collect rain water. They remained a valuable source of water for centuries because so little water could be found in the desert during summer. Nowadays, the water in the stone cavities serves as a great ground for the reproduction of fairy shrimp (camarón de agua dulce), which dry out during rainless months and come back to life as soon as the cavities fill up again.
The majestic rocks carry a certain spirit there, which makes every visitor explore and discover more. They present peculiar volcanic shapes and formations – the kind of rocky structures that make you feel that there are still a lot of secrets hidden beneath those stones.
Before entering the park every visitor is required to watch an educational movie about the importance of preservation of this historical site. The park has been vandalized in the past, the sad traces of which are still seen as carvings on many stones. The movie serves as a helpful guide for those not familiar with the area and will take no longer than 20 minutes.
What to Do at Hueco Tanks
The most common things people who come to visit Hueco Tanks find themselves engaged in include:
- hiking and camping,
- having picnics,
- rock climbing and mountaineering,
- taking pictures of Indian drawings on the stones.
In general, Hueco Tanks has gained its national popularity as a unique destination for rock-climbers from all over the country. However, it is also a great place to take your kids to show them the evidence of a beautiful American Indian culture preserved in the ancient hieroglyphs. Several sitting areas can be found on site. For hiking in certain areas you will need to be escorted by a ranger guide, which is certainly worth the trouble.
Hueco Tanks Park sits adjacent to El Paso, Tx. It is 30 miles going East on US-180, which will take about an hour.
Best time to visit Hueco Tanks
The best time to visit Hueco Tanks is just after a rain. All stones become brighter and come to live with streams of water flowing everywhere. Since there is little shade and few areas to hide from the sun, it is better to come during a cloudy or cool day.
The entrance to Hueco Tanks costs $7 per person; children under 12 can visit for free.
In summer, it is highly recommended to bring a sun block and an anti-mosquito spray with you. The damp caves and gaps between the stones start to swarm with mosquitoes a couple of days after it rains.