El Paso, TX Area Guide
Located in mountainous West Texas on the Rio Grande border, El Paso, Texas contains its metropolitan namesake, as well as the cities of Horizon City, the city of Socorro, and the towns of Anthony and Clint.
The city of El Paso is the sixth largest city in the lone star state and the 19th largest in the United States of America. El Paso county rests at the intersection of three states (New Mexico, Texas, Chihuahua), two countries (Mexico, U.S.A.), and contains the world’s largest urban park, several mountain ranges, a University of Texas campus, and one of the largest U.S. army complexes in the continental United States. Referred to by Vanity Fair as “The Best Little Music City in Texas,” El Paso was the 2010 recipient of the longest running and most prestigious community award in the country, an All-American City Award, which American pioneer and poll inventor George H. Gallup called “a Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship.”
El Paso Official Website
The El Paso area was inhabited for centuries by various Native American groups prior to the arrival of Spanish settlers in the sixteenth-century. The first Europeans to visit this area were survivors of an unsuccessful voyage to Florida, and named it El Paso del Norte, or “the pass of the North.”
Several years later, Juan de Oñate officially claimed this area as a colony for Spain in 1598, leading to two centuries of Spanish rule. During this time, dams and irrigation ditches allowed its five thousand inhabitants to flourish agriculturally, as El Paso’s numerous vineyards became renown for their excellent brandy and wine.
Following the establishment of Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821, El Paso continued to flourish agriculturally and commercially in areas of farming and ranching until 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended the Mexican War and made El Paso a border town between the U.S. and Mexico.
Shortly after, in 1849, the California gold rush fed a population boom, leading to more settlements along the Rio Grande River and the following year the County of El Paso was established. In 1854, the U.S. founded Fort Bliss, which later became an important site during the American Civil War.
After experiencing its own bloody civil war, the El Paso region was revived and reignited by the arrival of railroads in 1881, which lead to a population explosion. This transformed the dusty adobe village to a thriving Western saloon, dance hall, and gambling town.
Eventually, in 1905, concerned citizens passed ordinances outlawing the rampant vice of the city. El Paso’s population continued to double every ten years, and by 1925 there were approximately seventy-seven thousand people living in the area.
In 1916, the Elephant Butte Dam was completed in nearby New Mexico, which ensured a steady supply of water for agricultural growth and capitalization on the area’s abundant natural resources. Mining, refineries, and metallurgy continued to accompany the growth of tourism, textiles, and trade as major industries in the area over the last century.
The first public schools were established in 1884, and in 1914, the State School of Mining and Metallurgy opened before changing its name in 1949 to Texas Western College. This state institution continued to grow from its humble beginnings on the campus of Fort Bliss to eventually broaden its programs and change its name in 1967 to the University of Texas at El Paso. In 1974, the school began offering doctoral programs, and as of 2008 the school had reached an enrollment of over twenty-thousand students while remaining one of the most prestigious and well run institutions in the nation. The National Science Foundation has designated UTEP as one of only six Model Institutions for Excellence in the nation.
The city has operated public transportation since 1882, and currently supports two major newspapers, a symphony orchestra, museum of art, numerous colleges, and a medical school.
Parks and Recreation
The El Paso city Parks and Recreation department makes it their mission to develop and maintain quality facilities and programs of every kind for people of all ages and offers sports leagues, art classes, aquatic centers, and some of the most scenic state parks in the country! The department boasts online registration, help hotlines, and a year round calendar filled with exciting community events.
Parks Department website
State Parks and campgrounds
Attractions and Activities
We have listed below just a handful of the renowned attractions in the El Paso area, which also features numerous theaters, libraries, picnic spots, andshopping boutiques.
Franklin Mountain State Park
The nation’s largest urban park encompasses over twenty-four thousand square acres and features breathtaking views, fantastic trails for hiking or mountain biking, and year round picnicking. It is also a fantastic spot for mountain climbing!
El Paso Museum of Art
This expansive collection of over five-thousand pieces ranges from fifteenth century works to contemporary contributions from modern sculptors and painters. The museum serves approximately one-hundred thousand visitors each year and offers cultural enrichment in the form of its permanent holdings as well as exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and film screenings.
Wyler Aerial Tramway
This tram offers a smooth ride to the top of Ranger’s peak and an awe-inspiring 360 degree panoramic view of Juarez and New Mexico. Rising over four-thousand feet in four minutes makes riding the tram an absolute must!
This family park covers nearly five-hundred acres and features picnic areas, a golf course, fishing lakes, and numerous playgrounds for the kids!
El Paso is home to a community rich with culture and teeming with activity. Year round, citizens celebrate their rich history and abundant life with festivity and fervor! Check the calendars listed below and be sure not to miss any of the excitement!