Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Texas Mountain Trail Classics Week: Hueco Tanks

Just 30 miles east of El Paso, Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site has been loved by local residents for much so, that with the delicate rock art and world-class bouldering in the tiny park, planning a visit ahead of time is a necessity.  That's not to discourage travelers from taking in this magical place, you DO need to understand what's involved before you hike, watch birds, view ancient (and fragile) rock art, and climb those rocks!

The park's website says this, "For the protection of natural and cultural resources at the park, visitation is limited. Special reservation and entry restrictions are required at this park. Please contact the park or park information (1-800-792-1112-Option 3) for details."   Please take the time to do this, or else risk being turned away at the gate.

The park's website also says this about the fragile pictographs and the park's history:  "From Archaic hunters and foragers of thousands of years ago to relatively recent Mescalero Apaches, Native Americans have drawn strange mythological designs and human and animal figures on the rocks of the area. The site's notable pictographs also include more than 200 face designs or "masks" left by the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture. Hueco Tanks was the site of the last Indian battle in the county. Apaches, Kiowas, and earlier Indian groups camped here and left behind pictographs telling of their adventures. These tanks served as watering places for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route."
Visitors come from all over the world to climb the boulders of this small 860 acre park.  Everyone entering the park will go through a brief orientation program designed to help visitors protect the pictographs and other park resources, even those who have reserved a place on the birding, hiking, bouldering, and pictograph tours noted on the website.  Don't let that deter you from visiting Hueco Tanks, a place with more biodiversity than many of the world's deserts! 

Click here to view a video of Hueco TanksClick here to download a guide to the pictographs of Hueco Tanks.

Hueco Tanks is also a site on the new Far West Texas Wildlife Trail map.  Read more, and find a link to purchase the map here!

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