El Paso Travel Guide
El Paso, the fourth-largest city in Texas, is located in the western corner of the state along the mountainous desert border with Mexico. The mighty Rio Grande River separates El Paso from Mexico, and it’s this geography that has given El Paso its long and colorful history. Perhaps not an obvious tourist destination, there’s a lot to warrant a stopover in this authentic southwestern city.
The history of El Paso is steeped in Spanish conquistadors, ancient trading routes, Wild West gunslingers and border disputes with Mexico. The Franklin Mountains border the downtown district and provide the home to much of the city’s urban core, while the Rio Grande supplies water and an easy route into Mexico. With more than 400 years of evolution, El Paso can be tricky to navigate.
The city is laid out in something like a U-shape, with the mountains at the centre of things and the downtown section at the base of the hills. Although downtown El Paso is ideal for walking around, you’ll want a car to get around. From downtown visitors can also walk across the Santa Fe Bridge into Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez. As America’s largest border city, the fusion of Mexican and American cultures here has created a fascinating environment.
El Paso Museum of Art: within the five galleries of this impressive venue, three are devoted to the cultures which have intermixed over the centuries in El Paso. Mexican, European and American works are well-presented and give a nice impression of the many nations who have controlled this city.
Magoffin Home State Historic Site: El Paso’s only historic home which is open to the public acts as a museum presenting the pioneering heritage of this territory as it struggled to survive the Wild West era, through furnishings, relics and photos.
El Paso Mission Trail: there are three historic Spanish missions in the area which hint at El Paso’s colonial past. You’ll need a car to visit one or all of them, but it’s well worth it to see these impressive structures.
Ascarate Lake City Park: with a 44-acre lake at its center, this pleasant public park within the city has plenty of trails for walking to go with the excellent fishing and golfing opportunities on hand.
Ciudad Juarez: just across the Rio Grande by bridge is the chaotic, fascinating city of Juarez, Mexico’s largest border town.