- For other places with the same name, see El Paso (disambiguation).
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.
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. Given that Spanish tends to be a more formal language than English, you will be even better received if can manage "Si/no, señor/señora/señorita" ("Yes/no, sir/ma'am/miss"), and "No, gracias" ("No, thank you"), rather than a curt "Si" or "no." 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.
And if all else fails, and communication is at a stand still, smile and say Lo siento. No hablo Español.
El Paso is geographically divided into several parts with the Franklin Mountains and Fort Bliss cutting the city into distinct sections. Each area has its own style and culture.
- West Side is between the Franklin mountains and Mexico and New Mexico includes El Paso's most affluent neighborhoods along the side of the mountain. Providence Memorial Hospital, Sierra Medical Center, Las Palmas Medical Center, El Paso Country Club, and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are located here. The UTEP area ("Kern Place") is emerging as an entertainment district with restaurants and nightclubs also known as the "Cincinnati Entertainment District". The Sun Bowl, Don Haskins center, and Centennial Gardens are all located on the UTEP campus.
- Downtown is in the southern 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, especially with the current construction. 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. The El Paso Museum of Art, the Plaza Theater, El Paso Civic Center and a children's science museum, Insights, are all located here. Extensive renovations are taking place in the Downtown area. Nearby on Paisano Street is the El Paso Zoo.
- North East El Paso is home to Fort Bliss Military Base. Fort Bliss is one of the largest U.S. Military bases in the world and Northeast El Paso is home to many active and retired servicemen and women. Fort Bliss located near the airport with adjacent Biggs Army Airfield has a great influence on Northeast El Paso culture. Tours of Fort Bliss can be arranged, or if you know a service member, have them give you a tour. Outside of base are many military surplus stores.
- East Side of El Paso is the fastest growing area mostly home to middle class working families. The Socorro Student Activities Complex (SAC), Del Sol Medical Center, Las Palmas Marketplace, Cielo Vista Mall and Bassett Center are all located in East El Paso. It is close to the Mission Trails area and Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.
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.
El Paso is a diverse community featuring many different kinds of people. The largest language spoken at home is Spanish, followed by English. Many older El Pasoans speak Spanish regularly in public and it is helpful, although usually not necessary, to understand the language.
|Daily highs (°F)||57||63||70||79||87||96||95||93||88||79||66||58|
|Nightly lows (°F)||31||35||41||49||58||66||70||68||62||50||38||32|
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°F (37.7°C) or more. Winter rarely sees snow and temperatures drop to around 40 or 50°F. During periods of rain, flash flooding can occur.
- El Paso International Airport (IATA: ELP). United, Southwest, American Airlines and Delta offer daily flights to their hubs: Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta and Dallas. The El Paso airport has been approved for the use of full body x-ray detection machines.
- Abraham González International Airport (IATA: CJS) is across the border in Juarez and offers flights from many Mexican cities.
- 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 Interstate 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.
- Greyhound and a few other companies have routes going in and out of El Paso. Routes leaving and coming to El Paso come from Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Amarillo, and Lubbock. The station is located Downtown.
- Autobus Americanos. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico. Bus stop is located at 1007 S Santa Fe St in El Paso.
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.
Must be called for pickup in most areas.
- Yellow Cab Company: ☎ +1 915 533-3433
- Checker Cab Company: ☎ +1 915 532-2626
- Sun City Cab Company: ☎ +1 915 544-2211
- Border Cab Company: ☎ +1 915 533-4282
- United IND. Cab Company: ☎ +1 915 590-8294
- Sun Metro The city's bus system, has construction over parts of the city which has stations underway to make moving around the city a bit faster.
- Private bus companies may or may not operate from downtown El Paso into the center of Juárez, due to frequent changes in policy within both the United States and Mexico. Inquire with Sun Metro for whether such a service is in operation.
Historic tours by trolley.
Once a traveler has reached certain destinations, walking will suffice. Much of what can be seen in the Downtown and UTEP area is easily accessed by pedestrians, for example. Because of the high temperatures it is not very recommendable to walk during summer.
- Fort Bliss Army Base. El Paso is nearby to the largest US Military Installation in the world, which stretches into two states, Texas and New Mexico. One of the Department of Defense largest project, coming in third after Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, there is major construction under way on Fort Bliss. 80,000 new soldiers and their families are expected to arrive within a few couple years. Fort Bliss has the first, and biggest of its kind PX anywhere in the world. The area near the base also has a lot of military surplus stores for those who may be interested in such things.
- Licon Dairy, 1951 Glorietta Rd, San Elizario TX (Near the International bridge, off of Socorro Rd). Petting zoo is open from 6AM-6PM, daily. Working dairy famous for its Asadero 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, which is filled up about weekly.
- The University of Texas at El Paso (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.
Museums and Art galleries
- Centennial Museum and Garden. 10AM-4:30PM Tues-Sat (Museum is also sometimes closed during Miner Football Home Games on Saturdays). 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 desert garden just outside features 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 of Archeology at Wilderness Park, 4301 Woodrow Bean (On the East Side of the Franklin Mountains), ☎ +1 915-755-4332. Tue-Sat, 9AM-5PM. Closed Sun-Mon. 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. Free.
- Second Floor Gallery, 209 Texas Ave (Above Xtreme Fitness, access at the side of the building or through the gym.), ☎ +1 915 867-3311. Wed-Sat 3PM-11PM and Sunday 3PM-9PM. Locally owned gallery featuring local artists from El Paso and Juarez. Within walking distance from the Double Tree and Holiday Inn hotel. The gallery displays the cultural essence of rising El Paso artists. Private tours are available. Admission is free.
- Dinner Theatre. Food and theatre (mainly musicals).
- UTEP Theatre (Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film). Quality plays are produced throughout the year.
- Diablos Baseball. The El Paso Diablos is a professional, independent league team that plays at Cohen Stadium. Cohen Stadium was once voted the best stadium in minor league baseball.
- Chihuahuas Baseball. A brand new minor league baseball team that is the Triple-A level affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
- Miners. Miners football is coached by Mike Price. UTEP has a beautiful stadium, the Sun Bowl, that looks as though it was cut right out of the mountain. Every late December the Sun Bowl is played, where two 3rd, 4th, or 5th place teams from either the Pac-10, Big Ten, or Big 12 meet. This is the longest running televised bowl game in the country.
- Rodeos. Rodeo events 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.
- UTEP-Basketball. Don Haskins changed the way college basketball was played forever in 1966. He led his all-black lineup against the all-white Kentucky team featuring Pat Riley and won the National Championship. Prior to Don Haskins, black players were marginalized in college basketball. Don Haskins has the basketball arena named after him, the Don Haskins Center, that hosts Miner Basketball and concerts.
- Chamizal National Memorial. 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. Information and event schedules can be found at the Chamizal National Memorial website.
- Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, 1200 Futurity Dr. Sunland Park, NM (Just over the state line in New Mexico), ☎ +1 505 874-5200. Casino Hours-Sun-Thur 9:30AM to 12:30AM and Fri-Sat 9:30AM-2AM. 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.
Scenic routes and treks
- The valley of the Rio Grande.
- El Paso Mission Trail. A collection of the historic Spanish missions in the area, dating from the early 17th century. There are also a number of shops on the trail with artwork, crafts, and historic pieces.
- Franklin Mountains. There are many ways to enjoy the Franklin Mountains. Ranger guided tours are available by reservation.
- McKelligon Canyon ('The Tom Mays Unit), 1331 McKelligon Canyon Road El Paso TX (Take US Highway 54 and exit onto Fred Wilson Rd. Take Fred Wilson past Dyer Rd, heading towards the mountains. Merge onto Alabama, drive past William Beaumont Army Medical Center. At the top of the road, turn toward the mountains onto McKelligon Canyon Rd.), ☎ +1 915 566-6441. 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. Map of the trails are available on the website.
- Transmountain Road. Taking 375 the 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.
A number of walking tours of various parts of El Paso are available.
Have a look over the military surplus stores near Fort Bliss.
- El Paso Saddleblanket, 6926 Gateway East. Fine Southwest rugs, furniture, jewelry and folk art.
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 with hominy, chile and tripe. It is a Mexican specialty.
- Burritos A border favorite. Burritos are a humble but delicious food and should not be expensive. Do not try them in an upscale restaurant. True burritos are done with home made flour tortilla and your choice of filling. Try "chile con queso", chile relleno, barbacoa (meat) or "deshebrada con chile colorado" (shredded meat with red chile) for the local traditional El Paso/Juarez flavor. Green chile fillings are great too. All other flavors are more likely not from the region.
- 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.
- Papas Burgers, 4569 Pedras St. A delicious place to shop
- Smokey's Pit Stop and Saloon. 1346 Lee Trevino. ☎ +1 915 593-6332. 9100 Viscount. ☎ +1 915 592-3141. 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.
- The Tap, 408 East San Antonio Ave, ☎ +1 915 532-1848. An old downtown El Paso bar that serves unpretentious Mexican food. The nachos are especially good, and the crowd is a mixture of blue-collar workers and college students.
- Chico's Tacos 1235 McRae Blvd ☎ +1 915592-8484, 3401 Dyer St. ☎ +1 915565-5555, 11381 Montwood Dr. ☎ +1 915849-8777. Is an El Paso Tradition. There are 5 different stores in El Paso serving these unique rolled tacos. These tacos are unlike either the "Taco Bell" tacos many Americans are familiar with, or those served in an authentic Mexican taquería. Resembling flautas more than tacos, a single order of tacos will not cost you more than $2.00 and provide you with three tacos. A "double" or "triple" order will fill up those who are more hungry. The tacos are served with a red sauce and piled high with cheese. They don't look appetizing, but the consensus is you either love them or hate them. Chico's Tacos also serves delicious hamburgers, El Paso-style hot dogs (sliced franks served on a hamburger bun with chili), grilled cheese sandwiches, and burritos. Chico's is a treasured El Paso tradition. Open late, cheap and always quick service.
- Avila's Mexican Food, ☎ +1 915 584-362. 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. 6232 N. Mesa Dr.1
- Cattleman's Steakhouse. A steakhouse in the middle of the desert in the city of Fabens, East of El Paso. Go for dinner to enjoy a fine steak with a gorgeous sunset view. An outdoor balcony is available to bring your cocktail while your food is being prepared. They do not serve food or drinks in the balcony area. "The Cowboy" is their 2-pound T-bone steak--a must for the first time.
- Cafe Central. Cafe Central is the perfect place to go to enjoy fine dining with a Southwestern flair. Originally opened in Juarez in 1918, Cafe Central moved to El Paso after Prohibition ended. This fancy restaurant is led by Chef Armando Pomales and his team. Service here is nearly perfect, but it is the food that will have you seeing stars. A true "fancy restaurant" for those looking for a place to take a date, celebrate an anniversary, eat an amazing lunch, or hold a business lunch/dinner.
- Forti's Mexican Elder Restaurant, 321 Chelsea, ☎ +1 915 772-0066. A mid-price restaurant and piano bar located just barely above the border. The price is comparable to that of a lot of mediocre Mexican restaurants elsewhere, but this food blows theirs out of the water. The fajitas are perfectly seasoned, the carnitas are amazing, and the margaritas are not to be missed. Fresh homemade tortillas complete the meal. Be sure not to binge on the chips and salsa as the meals are large.
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 18.
The original Margarita recipe was invented in Ciudad Juarez-El Paso region (where Dos Lunas is headquartered) on July 4, 1942 by Francisco "Pancho" Morales. Morales was a bartender at a bar named Tommy's Place, according to The Old Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide (a book that professional and home bartenders alike call the "Bible of Booze"). Morales improvised the drink after a customer ordered a Magnolia, a drink recipe that he did not know, other than the fact that it contained Cointreau. The drink's popularity immediately grew after Morales, who was an instructor at the local bartender's school, began teaching the Margarita recipe to his students. The name Margarita is Spanish for "daisy."
El Paso has a very active nightlife that has something for everyone.
- Union Depot area at 115 Durango street, which includes several bars and clubs that cater to college students and young professionals.
- Cincinnati street area near the University of Texas El Paso, includes a variety of bars, ranging from upscale lounges to dives, as well as a variety of restaurants.
- The 500 block of North Stanton Street features a row of gay and lesbian friendly clubs.
- Dyer Street near Fort Bliss includes a few bars and clubs that cater to African-Americans.
- El Paso's Lower Valley and Central neighbourhoods have many small bars and clubs that feature primarily Mexican music, often with dancing or live music on weekends.
- El Paso International Hostel / Gardner Hotel, 311 East Franklin Ave, ☎ +1 915 532-3661. Beds start at $20 per night..
- Hawthorn Inn & Suites El Paso, 6789 Boeing Dr, ☎ +1 915 778-6789. Hotel features spacious suites, some with full kitchens, exercise facilities, video cassette players and on-site guest laundry and valet service.
El Paso is rated the 2nd Most Safe City in the United States for its size. San Diego took the first spot. All records are based on latest FBI reports.
Most of El Paso is safe from violent crime, and El Paso has a very low murder rate for a large American city. El Paso is generally very quiet and peaceful during the daytime, take normal precautions at night. Areas to avoid at night may include near the international bridges, but curfews on both sides of the border have cut down on the number of aggressive, intoxicated juveniles at night.
El Paso is also has a good neighbor atmosphere, and is a military friendly city.
- Heat in the Summer. During the summer months when temperatures nearly always stay around 90 degrees to 100 or more degrees Fahrenheit, 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. For more information, consult the article for this region.
- Sun. Not just for the heat, but the sun can be dangerous because of UV rays which are much stronger at El Paso's altitude than at sea level. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. It is not uncommon to see pedestrians in El Paso walking with an umbrella to shield them from the sun.
- Rain. During the rainy season (usually late June to early October) 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. Poor drainage and the dry desert soil ensure that even moderate rainfall can result in street flooding, especially in underpasses. 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.
- Snow and ice. While El Paso winters are generally mild, cold weather can occur. In general, winter is a dry season in El Paso; however, when snow and icy conditions exist, take extreme caution, as El Pasoans are not used to driving in these conditions.
- Wind and dust. El Paso's windy season is generally from January through April. During this time, high winds and blowing dust can make breathing difficult, especially for asthma sufferers. Blowing dust and sand can also reduce visibility on roads, especially in rural areas surrounding El Paso. Area highways may close during high winds.
- 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 Rio Grande area also has mosquito problems. 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.
911 will connect travelers with assistance.
Hospitals with 24 hr 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., ☎ +1 915 577-6551.
Veterinary Hospitals that run 24 hr emergency rooms are also extremely expensive. This is the sort of place you might take your sick or injured pet if they are seriously injured and cannot wait for medical care.
- Animal Emergency Center, 1220 Airway Blvd, ☎ +1 915 545-1148.
Don't think that just because El Paso is in Texas, the rest of the state is close at hand. El Paso is actually closer to the beaches of Southern California, than it is to Eastern Texas. Be sure to check driving times and distances before exploring other places in the state. For example, Houston is 745 miles or 1,200 km via I-10.
If you must be somewhere at a certain time, don't forget the rest of Texas (except adjacent Hudspeth County and the Guadalupe Mountains) is one hour ahead (Central Time Zone). With the long driving distances and losing an hour, it can be a challenge to stay on schedule.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about 100 miles to the east, with Carlsbad Caverns National Park another 30 miles beyond.
- Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, just east of town. Tall granite outcrops which created natural cisterns used by native tribes for drinking water.
- Ciudad Juarez, the fifth largest city in Mexico, is just south across the river, although due to violence from drug cartels travel warnings have been issued advising against travel to this area.
- Presidio Chapel of San Elizario, in San Elizario, a few miles south on Hwy. 20, 915-851-1682. Built in 1877 to replace the original constructed in the 1770s.
- Socorro Mission, 328 S. Nevarez Rd. (I-10 at Moon Rd. and FM 258, south of town). ☎ +1 915 859-7718. Mon-Fri 8AM-4PM. Originally constructed in 1682 and subsequently destroyed by fire. The present structure was built in 1840, incorporating decorative beams salvaged from the original structure.
- Ysleta Mission, 131 S. Zaragosa Rd. (near the US 800 junction, south of town). ☎ +1 915 859 9848. Constructed in 1744.
- San Elizario Historic Art District, 1501 Main St. (off Socorro road on the El Paso Mission Trail). ☎ +1 915 851 0093. Featuring 2 Museums, 6 Art Galleries and over 21 Artist Studios. Also visit the Old El Paso County Jail of Billy the Kid fame, the El Bandido Restaurant and Cantina and 18 historical sites from the Old Presidio Fort era. Tours and shuttle available.
- White Sands National Monument is northeast on US-54.
|Routes through El Paso|
|Tucson ← Deming ←||W E||→ Alpine → San Antonio|
|Tucson ← Las Cruces ←||N S||→ Van Horn → San Antonio|
|END ←||N S||→ → becomes → Juarez → Chihuahua|
|END ←||W E||→ Guadalupe Mountains N.P. → Carlsbad|
|Deming ← Las Cruces ←||W E||→ Guadalupe Mountains N.P. → Carlsbad|
|San Jerónimo ← Santa Teresa ← becomes ←||W E||→ END|