Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pictographs at Hueco Tanks near El Paso

Saturday I joined a women's hiking group on their trip to Hueco Tanks State Historical Site, an archaeological and outdoor treasure in El Paso County. We climbed and shimmied over and under rocks and had incredible views--of rock art, long-range vistas and beautiful wildflowers. Because of the site's valuable prehistoric and historic pictographs, visitation is limited and regulated. While this may seem unusual to some, the need to make reservations for your visit and view a 15 minute video is well worth the effort, especially since it is all designed to help preserve this important cultural resource. There are incredible opportunities for hiking, bouldering and rock-climbing, and seeing the rock art is a moving experience.

We took advantage of both kinds of hiking opportunities at the park--an excellent guided tour and independent hiking--both great experiences. One of the highlights of our trip was climbing to Kiva Canyon, and finding pictograph "masks" from the Jordana Mogollon people, who had built a small cluster of structures on the site by 1150. We also saw images painted on the rocks by archaic hunters and gatherers, and travelers from the Butterfield Overland Trail.

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