Dusty day at Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, in El Paso County, Texas, USA.
A windy day kicks up dust, obscuring views. Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site is popular for birding and bouldering (rock climbing) in El Paso County, Texas, USA. Geology: In the park, three oddly lumpy mountains rise from the Chihuahuan Desert. In this area 320 million years ago, an inland sea laid thick sediments which later solidified into limestone. Around 35 million years ago, hot magma (molten rock) pushed up into the underground limestone layers and cooled into a syenite pluton (a form of igneous rock or cooled magma). Over millions of years, wind and water wore away the limestone covering then sculpted the syenite into the present hills. Cracks and hollows (huecos in Spanish) in the rocks hold rain for several days to several months. Most of the huecos occur naturally, but early residents also built dams and tanks. To better preserve the sensitive ecosystem, visitors should avoid touching the pools, which host the eggs of freshwater shrimp and spadefoot toads. History: Throughout the last 10,000 years, Hueco Tanks has provided water, food and shelter to travelers in the Chihuahuan Desert. People left clues to their stories in unique pictographs and petroglyphs visible today. Starting in 1858, Hueco Tanks served for a year as a relay station and water source for the historic Butterfield Overland Mail (which was then shifted south to a safer route). Twice a week, the Butterfield stagecoach carried passengers and US Mail in just 22 days to San Francisco starting from Memphis, Tennessee or St. Louis, Missouri; for the first time, people separated by nearly 2000 miles of wilderness could communicate. Escontrias Ranch started here in 1898, became a tourist attraction by the 1940s and became a country park in 1965, then a state park in 1969. Directions: From El Paso's Montana Avenue (US Highway 62/180), turn north at RM 2775.Add to Cart Add to Lightbox Download