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El Paso, Texas

Local Details

Learn more about El Paso, Texas using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes El Paso, Texas so great!

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City Guide

El Paso is the sixth largest city in Texas, on the United States-Mexico border. The city on the other side of the border is Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. El Paso is often called the Sun City. Collectively, the city of El Paso and other nearby cities, such as Juarez and Las Cruces, New Mexico are referred to as The Borderland.

Understand

Spanish for Travelers

The Spanish language is an important part of life to El Pasoans. It's not always necessary to know Spanish, but it can help in some situations! To say yes is Si, No is No. Gracias is Thank You in Spanish. To ask for the restroom, say ¿Dónde está el baño?. When asking for directions, you might need a mapa, or map. The calle or street you are looking for may be izquierda (left) or derecha (right). You may want to take an autobus which is cerca de la plaza, or the bus is near the town square.

If you do not speak Spanish yourself, going to Juarez can be confusing. Taking a friend who can speak fluent Spanish makes the experience much richer. In this way, you can get to know people through your translator.

And if all else fails, and communication is at a stand still, smile and say Lo siento. No hablo Español.

El Paso is basically divided into two parts with the Franklin Mountains cutting much of the city into halves. Although the best way to understand El Paso is to further divide the large city into smaller sections. Each area has its own flavor.

The West Side of town is somewhat more affluent. Border Hospital and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are both located here.

Downtown is located in the Southernmost part of El Paso, just below the tip of the Franklin Mountains. The streets of Downtown are often difficult to navigate for first time visitors. Parking (there are many cheap areas to park your car for the day) is probably the best bet. Walking through Downtown, there are many little shops reminiscent of Mexico and many small cafes. Many of the buildings are historic and very beautiful. The Downtown area boasts a beautiful plaza in the center of the city. An art museum, theater and a Children's science museum are all located here. Extensive renovations are taking place in the Downtown area.

The North East of El Paso is home to Fort Bliss Military Base. Fort Bliss is located near the airport and is also adjacent to Biggs Airfield. Fort Bliss is one of the largest US Military bases in the world. Tours can be arranged, or if you know a service member, have them give you a tour. Fort Bliss has very obviously influenced the area. Outside of base are many military surplus stores.

The East Side part of El Paso is probably one of the fastest growing areas. It is closest to the Mission Trails area and Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.

El Paso is a diverse community featuring many different kinds of people. The largest language spoken at home is Spanish, followed by English. Many El Pasoans speak Spanish regularly in public and it is helpful, although usually not necessary, to understand the language.

History

El Paso was formerly known as El Paso del Norte (The Pass of the North) and was named by Spanish travelers in 1581. The area wasn't colonized by Europeans until 1598 when Don Juan de Oñate led an expedition into the territory. In 1848, El Paso formally became part of the United States and a military post was erected there which eventually became Fort Bliss. The city was actually incorporated in 1873. El Paso Public Library was the first Public Library in Texas.

Climate

El Paso is part of the Chihuahuan Desert. It receives on average about 8.5 inches of rainfall a year. The sky is usually clear and cloud-free. Summer temperatures can reach 100 or more degrees Fahrenheit. Winter rarely sees snow and temperatures drop to around 40 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. During periods of rain, flash flooding can occur.

Get in

By air

  • El Paso International Airport This is a small airport that lacks 24 hour dining facilities.

By car

  • From Mexico, take one of the International bridges. Expect long traffic jams during rush hour.
  • From the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, take 62/180 West towards El Paso.
  • I-10 is the largest Intersate going through El Paso. Coming from East Texas, I-10 will take travelers through El Paso all the way to the Downtown area. It can also be used to reach El Paso from Las Cruces, New Mexico.

By bus

Greyhound and a few other companies have routes going in and out of El Paso. The station is located Downtown.

By train

Amtrak has a few times that it comes in and out of El Paso. The Depot is located Downtown.

Get around

Car Rental

This may be the easiest way to see what El Paso has to offer. Since many sites of interest are quite far apart from one another, renting a car may afford visitors the most flexibility. Cars can be easily rented at the Airport or on Fort Bliss.

Taxi

Must be called for pickup in most areas.

Taxis in the area:

  • Yellow Cab Company: 915-533-3433
  • Checker Cab Company: 915-532-2626
  • Sun City Cab Company: 915-544-2211
  • Border Cab Company: 915-533-4282
  • United IND. Cab Company: 915-590-8294

Bus

Sun Metro: The city's bus system. Although Sun Metro has had it share of problems in the past, they are striving to undo previous mistakes. Route and Schedule Information

Trolley

Historic tours by trolley.

Walking

Once a traveler has reached certain destinations, walking will suffice. Much of what can be seen in the Downtown area is easily accessed by pedestrians, for example.

See

  • The valley of the Rio Grande
  • The historic Mission Trail
  • Wyler Aerial Tramway

Franklin Mountains

There are many ways to enjoy the Franklin Mountains. Ranger guided tours are available by reservation.

McKelligon Canyon

The Tom Mays Unit known locally as McKelligon Canyon is easily reached by taking I-54 and exiting onto Fred Wilson Road. Take Fred Wison past Dyer Rd, heading towards the mountains. Merge onto Alabama, drive past William Beaumont Army Medical Center. At the top of the road, turn towards the mountains onto McKelligon Canyon Road. The road is small. This road eventually leads visitors on a winding tour of the canyon. It is truly beautiful, with many plants and colorful hills. There are picnic facilities, a park store and steep trails into the wilderness. It is very quiet and peaceful, a desert oasis in the middle of the city. Many runners and bikers enjoy the challenge of the winding, rolling roads in the canyon. Pets are allowed on leash and there are also mountain biking trails.

  • Address 1331 McKelligon Canyon Road El Paso TX 79930 (915) 566-6441.
  • Map of trails at McKelligon Canyon.

Transmountain Road

Taking the Transmountain Road (Loop 375) through the Franklin Mountains at night is a wonderful experience. The entire city of El Paso and the city of Juarez are both lit up like a galaxy of stars. There are many places to pull off and watch the artificial stars.

During the day, take Transmountain Road and stop at any of the hiking areas. These places have donation boxes for hikers who are supposed to provide $3 for the use of the trails. These trails are very steep and surrounded by native cacti, yucca and agave. Travelers may also see hummingbirds, large spiders and lizards. If the trails seem too chancy for you, pull over at the small picnic and viewing areas located throughout the Eastern half of the road. The view is amazing and you can see far off into Mexico and New Mexico.

Be aware that Transmountain road can be closed due to inclement weather.

Museum of Archeology at Wilderness Park

On the East Side of the Franklin Mountains is the Museum of Archeology at Wilderness Park. Exhibits include artifacts and reconstructions of life in the past. The museum also has numerous trails covering fifteen acres of land behind the museum that afford visitors terrific views of the Franklin Mountains and over 250 native plant species.

  • Hours Tuesday-Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday
  • Admission Free

Fort Bliss Army Base

One of the largest US Military Bases in the world, Fort Bliss is primarily the home to Air Defense Artillery. Soldiers from Germany and Japan come to Fort Bliss for training in the PATRIOT missile system. Getting on Base is difficult, but can be done by coming through one of two main gates and obtaining a day pass. Based on threat levels, this may or may not be possible. Travelers who know soldiers personally can come easily onto base with a soldier to guide them. The Air Defense Artillery Museum is located here, in addition to the NCO Museum. Fort Bliss also owns large tracts of land that are home to herds of oryx antelope.

UTEP

The University of Texas at El Paso was founded in 1914. It's located on the West Side of El Paso and is easily accessible from I-10. UTEP, pronounced you-tep, boasts a beautiful campus nestled into rocky hills with amazing xeriscaped gardens.

Athletics

El Pasoans are enthusiastic about the Miners, especially Miners Football. UTEP has a beautiful stadium, the Sun Bowl, for Miners Football. It looks as though it was cut right out of the mountain.

UTEP athletics are also famous for Don Haskins who changed the way college basketball was played forever. He beat the all white Kentucky team with his all black team to win the NCAA championship in 1966. Prior to Don Haskins, black players were marginalized in college basketball. Don Haskins has an arena named after him, the Don Haskins Center, that hosts Miners Basketball.

  • More information about UTEP athletics.

Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens

The Centennial Museum has both temporary and permanent exhibits. The temporary exhibits feature life, culture and the natural environment of the Borderlands. In many cases, the galleries are made up of contributions of fellow El Pasoans. The permanent exhibits are a natural and social history of the Chihuahuan Desert. The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, next to the museum, boasts over 600 native plant species. At the end of every April, there is a fun event sponsored by the gardens, known as FloraFest. During FloraFest, native plants such as agave, yucca, cacti and other hard to find desert plants can be purchased. For anyone interested in horticulture, especially xeriscaping, this is a must see.

  • Museum Hours 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (Museum is also sometimes closed during Miner Football Home Games on Saturdays)
  • Garden Hours Daily, from dawn to dusk.

UTEP Theatre

The Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film produces quality plays throughout the year. Check the website for more information.

  • Dinner Theatre Presenting food and theatre (mainly musicals). Check their website for show availability, times and ticket prices.

Rodeo

Rodeos can be seen in El Paso around the months of January and February. Rodeo is a unique cowboy 'sport' where individuals compete in a number of events the most famous of which is bull riding.

Diablos Baseball

The El Paso Diablos is a minor league team that plays at Cohen Stadium. Cohen Stadium was recently voted the best stadium in minor league baseball. The Diablos are affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Do

Visit Juarez

Be sure to visit Juarez, Mexico during your trip. Juarez can be accessed by foot, car or tour bus. By foot is often the easiest method with the least amount of waiting. The main tourist strip of shops in Juarez are close to the downtown bridge and easily accessed by foot. Make sure you have your passport with you for re-entry.

Licon Dairy

This is a working dairy famous for asedoro cheese. It boasts a very unusual petting zoo including camels, goats, zebras and parrots. Visitors can fish for catfish at the small pond inside the petting zoo. It is accessed near the International bridge.

  • Hours Petting zoo is open from 6 am to 6 pm, daily.
  • Address 11951 Glorietta Rd, San Elizario TX 79849

Walking and Driving Tours

A number of walking tours of various parts of El Paso are available. A great resource for these tours is located at the City of El Paso Tourism site.

Chamizal National Memorial

Chamizal National Memorial is a large park in the Southern part of El Paso, near the US/Mexico border. It hosts many events throughout the season, including concerts and dance performances. More information and event schedules can be found at the Chamizal National Memorial website.

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino

Located just over the state line in New Mexico. The casino is open every day, including holidays and has over 700 slot machines. It is easy to reach by taking I-10 West, away from Downtown. The Casino also hosts live shows and music. The Casino was established to counter the decline in horseracing and 25% of the earnings of the casino go to taxes for New Mexico. Most visitors report good experiences at the casino, with the exception of a few very competitive individuals.

  • Casino Hours Sunday through Thursday 9:30am to 12:30am and Friday and Saturday 9:30am to 2:00am.
  • Racetrack Hours Check the schedule.
  • Address 1200 Futurity Dr. Sunland Park, NM 88063 (505)874-5200.

Buy

  • El Paso Saddleblanket, 6926 Gateway East. Fine Southwest rugs, furniture, jewelry and folk art.

Eat

Local Foods

The following foods are popular in El Paso, but not necessarily recommended for everyone!

  • Menudo Travelers will see signs referring to Menudo everywhere. It is a type of soup made of chilies and tripe. It is a Mexican specialty.
  • Salsa This is a condiment served with tacos and other dishes. If all you've ever had is that red sauce out of the jar, you haven't had salsa! There are many kinds ranging from green to brown, spicy to mild. They are made from a variety of ingredients, but some of the best to try are green tomatillo salsa and smoky-red chipotle salsa. Also, as a condiment, try some chopped cilantro leaves with your dish.

Dining Out

  • Gut Trucks These are large white vans that sometimes sell ice cream, but usually always sell burritos and gorditas. They are often best described as restaurants on wheels. They can be found parked anywhere there is construction work, or in parking lots of large Do-It-Yourself stores. Do not pass them by! The food is very inexpensive and is absolutely terrific. They are usually only seen around lunch time. You'll know the food is good if you see a line or group of people waiting for food.
  • The State Line Located close to the Sunland Racetrack and Casino on the far West side, the State Line is a terrific Barbecue joint. The service is quick and the food is great. Sorry, vegetarians, this restaurant is a carnivore's delight. You can eat on a budget here, but you don't have to. 1222 Sunland Park Drive, El Paso, TX 79922 (915) 581-3371.
  • Smokey's Pit Stop and Saloon There are 3 locations of these barbecue joints slash bars on the East and Northeast part of El Paso. The inside of the Pit Stops aren't much to look at, but the food is great. Again, vegetarians forget about it. All of the food is starch and meat, with the exception of cole slaw. There are 2 locations with a third in construction on Zaragosa Rd. 1346 Lee Trevino (915) 593-6332 and 9100 Viscount (915) 592-3141
  • Chico's Tacos There are 5 different stores in El Paso serving the unique and unforgettable tacos. An order of tacos will not cost you more than $2.00 and 2 or 3 orders will fill you up. The tacos are served with a red sauce and pilled high with cheese. A definite El Paso tradition. 1235 McRae Blvd 915-592-8484, 3401 Dyer St. 915-565-5555, 11381 Montwood Dr. 915-849-8777 are 3 of the 5 stores. Open late, good food, cheap and always quick service.
  • Avila's Mexican Food A historic family owned restaurant, often wins citywide food and service awards. Owned and operated by four generations of the Avila family, often occupied with fiercely loyal patrons. The enchiladas and tacos are highly recommended, but the Chile con Queso is the signature dish of the restaurant. The average total meal costs about $10, with lunch specials for $5.25. 915-584-3621, 6232 N. Mesa Dr.

Drink

The legal drinking age in Texas, like all of the United States, is 21. However across the border in Mexico, the drinking age is set at the international standard, which is 18.

Tequila is a drink made of the native agave plant. There are many varieties at different prices. Tequila can be purchased almost anyplace that sells liquor in El Paso.

Sleep

  • Holiday Inn El Paso Airport, 6655 Gateway West, each of our guest rooms was designed with two things in mind: efficiency and comfort! High-speed Internet access, two phone lines with dataport and voicemail, workstation desks, and coffee makers are some of the little touches that make the difference between any hotel and a great hotel.
  • AmeriSuites El Paso/Airport, 6030 Gateway Blvd. East, Tel: (915) 771-0022, Located on Interstate 10 with easy access to downtown El Paso and the International Bridges to Juarez, Mexico.
  • Hawthorn Inn & Suites El Paso, 6789 Boeing Drive, Tel: (915) 778-6789, Hotel features spacious suites, full or efficiency kitchens, exercise facilities, video cassette players and on-site guest laundry and valet service.
  • Microtel Inn & Suites El Paso - East, 12211 Gateway West, Tel: (915) 858-1600.
  • Microtel Inn & Suites - El Paso Airport, 2001 Airway Blvd., Tel: (915) 772-3650.
  • Microtel Inn & Suites El Paso West / Anthony, 6185 South Desert Blvd., Tel: (915) 584-2026.
  • El Paso International Hostel / Gardner Hotel, 311 East Franklin Avenue, +1 915 532-3661. Beds start at $20 per night.

Safety

While El Paso has lowered much of its crime rate statistics, these rates are still on par with most major cities in the United States.

Environmental Dangers

Recognize the Signs of Dehydration and Heat Stroke

Signs of Dehydration

  • thirst
  • less-frequent urination
  • dry skin
  • fatigue
  • light-headedness
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • dry mouth and mucous membranes
  • increased heart rate and breathing

Signs of Heat Stroke

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • disorientation, agitation or confusion
  • sluggishness or fatigue
  • seizure
  • hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • a high body temperature
  • loss of consciousness
  • rapid heart beat
  • hallucinations

Heat stroke must be treated immediately. Get the victim out of the sun, put cool water on their skin and fan their skin. Elevate their feet. Call 911 for an emergency or take them to the nearest hospital.

Heat in the Summer During the summer months when temperatures nearly always stay around 90 degrees to 100 degrees Farenheit, the biggest dangers facing visitors are dehydration and heat stroke. El Paso is in a desert and it is important for all visitors to remember to drink enough water at all times. Too many people fail to take the heat seriously. The dry heat can actually feel less 'hot' than it really is to many people. Learn to recognize the signs of danger for dehydration and heat stroke. Heat stroke is very serious. Take care of yourself in the heat. And remember a cowboy word of wisdom: If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

Sun Not just for the heat, but the sun can be dangerous because of UV rays. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. It is not uncommon to see pedestrians in El Paso walking with an umbrella to sheild them from the sun.

Rain During the rainy season be aware that flash flooding can occur during and after rainfall. Areas closer to the Rio Grande are much more susceptible to flooding and standing water. Visitors who are in El Paso during the rare times of rain should remember to never drive into a flooded street. In addition, since El Pasoans are not used to driving in the rain, accidents are more likely to occur.

Mosquitoes Along with rain comes mosquitoes. Yes, El Paso is a desert, but many residents own pools and water gardens. These can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The West Nile Virus has been recorded in El Paso. The best advice is to remember to wear a good insect repellent if you will be outdoors in the evening. The area around Hueco Tanks can be very bad, mosquito-wise. Some local weather websites will tell visitors the projected mosquito danger.

Emergencies

911 will connect travelers with assistance.

Hospitals with 24 Hour Emergency Rooms Please remember that in the United States health care is private and going to an emergency room can be very expensive if the traveler does not have health insurance.

  • Providence Memorial Hospital 2001 N Oregon St, El Paso, TX (915) 577-6551

Sick Pet: 24 Hour Veterinary Care Veterinary Hospitals that run emergency rooms are also extremely expensive. This is the sort of place you might take your pet if they are seriously injured and cannot wait for medical care.

  • Animal Emergency Center 2101 Texas Ave, El Paso, TX (915) 545-1148

Get out

East By car, driving out of El Paso and going East on 62/180 (Montwood) will lead travelers past Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, through the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and eventually to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

South Head into Mexico via one of the International Bridges. Travelers will enter Ciudad Juarez, the fifth largest city in Mexico.

West Take I-10 West to visit the small college town of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

North West Take I-54 towards Alamogordo, New Mexico to visit White Sands National Monument.

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Goods & Services in El Paso, Texas.

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