Hello, unicornfaces! This morning, I woke up to the most-scrumptiously sudden urge to create, create, create. Let’s say it’s the first time in I don’t know how long that I actually feel InSpIrEd to work on creating things that fulfill my creative soul. And I definitely credit this inspired feeling to my brain getting some actual fresh air at the top of the Chain Trail at Hueco Tanks two weekends ago.
Being that we’re in a pandemic, I’ve been weary of (but more like completely refusing to) doing ANYTHING non-essential since literally March 13 — unbeknownst to me, my last “normal” day of work. But after some thorough research over the last few months, it seems like outdoor activities where you can stay 6 feet away from people are relatively low risk and I felt comfortable heading out there based on that.
So, after not seeing my friend Jaz since February, and knowing that both of us have been responsible and safe, we decided to hike Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site on a lovely Saturday morning. And honestly, it turned out to be a great possible activity for people looking for something to do during the pandemic in El Paso, Texas.
Hueco Tanks is located about 32 miles away from central El Paso. It’s a low-mountain area that’s rich in nature and houses plentiful resources. And throughout the site, you’ll find hollows in the rock where rainwater gathers — hence the “hueco” or “hollow” in the name .
You can also find pictographs and petroglyphs at Hueco Tanks, some of which were created between 6000 and 3000 B.C. I mean, holy shit. The site is culturally and spiritually significant to the Mescalero Apache, Kiowa, Hopi and Pueblo people.
Because the area’s natural resources are much more plentiful than that of its surrounding desert flats, Hueco Tanks has a thriving and diverse animal community. There are bob cats, gray foxes, coyotes, badgers, skunks, raccoons and even mountain lions; three different rabbit species, which we happened to see one of; six species of bats; and five different types of rattlesnakes!
The state park is currently operating with certain limitations because of the pandemic. You can visit the park by reservation only and they have a limit on the number of people that are allowed in per day. Making a reservation ahead of time is probably your best starting point for planning a visit to Hueco Tanks!
We didn’t see that many people while we were there. When we did see people, we put on our masks and, on top of that, were able to stay more than 6 feet away from them. Needless to say, we felt pretty safe in the outdoors — a feeling we both welcomed with open arms.
If you’re native to the El Paso area, haven been around long enough or are simply a rock-climbing enthusiast, then you know that Hueco Tanks is world renowned for its top-notch rock-climbing experiences. But I have just about zero arm strength, so you probably won’t see me doing any rock climbing any time soon.
Hueco Tanks has a series of relatively short trails that range from .08 to .9 miles and are mostly categorized as easy. This time around, we only hiked the Chain Trail that is categorized as moderate-to-strenuous, and my arms were sore the next day from holding on for dear life on those chains on the way down. And I did fall once, but I guess that’s warranted from me on any hike.
If you’re looking for things to do in El Paso during the pandemic or where you can maintain the appropriate social distance, consider visiting Hueco Tanks. Visiting only costs $7 per person for day use of the park and it’s definitely worth because of how unique the place is.
Now, I’m not encouraging you to leave your house. But if you feel like you need a quick quarantine break for your mental health, go for it. Of course, bring your mask and make sure that you’re monitoring your health prior, leading up to the day of and afterward. A Hueco Tanks hike is worth the short trip.
And I totally wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to bring my camera with me and capture some of our hike on video:
Well, that’s all for now! Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Hueco Tanks or tell me about your favorite hiking spot!