We’ve met some small challenges in our travels through the desert southwest. Mostly the fact that much remains closed, including the national parks. Our travel theme this year was to visit as many national parks as possible. We’ve been hearing they are beginning to reopen some of the parks. That’s encouraging but we haven’t found those yet. We drove past Guadalupe Mountains National Park this week but the gates were closed and they are not allowing visitors. We did however stop for a picture at the park entrance sign and enjoyed the beautiful scenic views of the mountain range as it past by our window.
We have started looking into state parks as our outdoor recreation option. In a recent post I told of our much needed experience during a day trip to Lost Maple State Natural Area in Texas. Texas reopened their parks for day use on the 20th of April. Likewise, New Mexico recently reopened their parks for day use on May 15. Arizona never did shut down their parks deeming them an essential service. So we’ve been staying at campgrounds that are relatively close to state parks.
We went back into Texas to the Hueco Mountain Hut Campground located about 35 miles east of El Paso. They have 24 sites but only four sites with electrical hookups as this place mostly caters to tent campers and is a very popular location for rock climbers. Located just three miles outside the park entrance it’s the closest campground to Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. After we arrived and set up the camper, we used the campground wifi to purchased our day pass for the next day.
A watering hole among the rocks in the arid Chihuahuan Desert, Hueco Tanks has attracted people for thousands of years. The huge boulders and rocks have pockets and holes (huecos) that capture and hold rain water for long periods of time. There are over 300 pictographs from different cultures drawn on the rocks over the years. Although currently unavailable due to COVID-19, ranger guided tours led visitors to see some of this rock art. Only the north mountain is open to the public during this time.
We arrived early to walk among the rocks, to test our climbing skills, to tread over the footsteps of those that came before us, to explore for ourself the hundreds of nooks and crannies. We tried to imagine life here long ago. We we wonderstruck. Unlike us, people were not drawn to this magnificent place for it’s beauty but rather for the life saving water found in the huecos.
We climbed up a steep incline toward the top aided by a chain handrail. We hopped from rock to rock. We scooted down boulders on our backside. We stopped often to take pictures as it seemed that around every turn was another picture that beckoned to be taken. I’m sure I will look back and ask myself why I took so many photos of rocks.
We spent most of the day at the park. We hiked all the trails that were open at the time. We found the ruins of an old homestead and we found where the water pooled. We came away satisfied that we had a great experience and we loved our day there. As we were driving back to the camper through the desert scrub, a roadrunner ran across the road. I’m almost certain I heard a “Beep Beep” before it disappeared in the scrub.
We only stayed for two nights at Hueco Mountain Hut. From there we moved to another location near a state park back in New Mexico. We booked three nights at Faywood Hot Springs Campground which is less than two mile from the entrance to the City of Rocks State Park. This small, one square mile, state park is another incredible geological site giving a surreal appearance of a place from another world. It’s ancient volcanic rock formations include pinnacles and spires, some as tall as forty feet, carved by years of erosion. A maze of paths or lanes creates a feeling of walking along ancient cities streets.
There is a road that circles the perimeter of this outcropping of rocks with many pull offs to tables nestled in the rocks. Grammi and I found the perfect spot to sit and relax while eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and taking in the long expansive views. We sat immersed in the quiet for well over a hour. It was an incredible location for a picnic. One I will remember as a favorite for a long time.
After the gorgeous sunsets, the desert air would quickly cool. We spent our evenings soaking in the thermal baths. Faywood Hot Springs has attracted people from near and far for many years. They have a number of pools located in the park with varying temperatures.
Relaxing in the all natural warm mineral water under the night sky was amazing. I haven’t seen so many stars in years. We stayed until the last remaining bit of energy was pulled from our bodies before we propped each other up and headed back to the camper. We slept well.
Please let me know you are reading the blog by leaving a comment below. So until next time…stay safe and happy adventures.