Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Big Bend to Fort Davis to Hueco Tanks

We spent our last day at Big Bend relaxing, using the wifi at the park and visiting with our neighbors.  It was great to meet you Lee and Lynda.

We left Wednesday making the 140 mile drive to Fort Davis State Park.  We were lucky to snag the last  full hookup site.  We were not expecting Davis Mountains State Park to be that busy.  Since we have been to the park several times, we didn't really do much except go eat at the drugstore at Fort Davis.  If you are in the area, it is well worth a stop for lunch or dinner.

Friday, we left to travel to Hueco Tanks State Park just north of El Paso.  We weren't expecting a whole lot, but were we wrong. We had no idea of the history of the park.

Hueco (it sounds like the city Waco) is Spanish for hollows.  There is record of human activity as far back as 10,000 years ago.  The mountains were formed from a volcano that didn't fully push through. There are North, East and West Mountains.  Only North Mountain is accessible without a guide.  This is a world renowned place for bouldering, mountain climbing without ropes.  From October to March, people from all over the world come here to climb.  Only 70 people are allowed on the mountain at a time.

After we checked in at the park, we had to watch a 17 minute film explaining the history and rules before we could proceed to our site.

This is our site with mountains on both sides.  There is also a covered picnic table at each site along with water and 50 amps electricity.  It was a cool 82 degrees when we got there, much cooler than our Big Bend days.

We began our tour Saturday morning meeting at the Interpretive Center at 10:30.  There were 12 of us in the tour.  Our guide was extremely knowledgeable with the plants and history of the area making our walk extremely interesting.

Our first stop was Newspaper Rock, a place where people from different times made their marks on this wall.  One of the things our guide brought up that it was interesting was that 4 different Indian tribes made pictographs telling stories in different areas of the wall without destroying any previous work, but then when the Europeans came, their names were written all over the wall covering any work previously done.  The red under the writing is a pictograph.

We were told a pictograph was drawn or colored on the rock and a petroglyph was carved in the rock.  The majority of artwork in Hueco Tanks are pictographs.

We continued on our hike crossing over the bridge to East Mountain.

We came to another famous pictograph that is part of the Kiowa oral history depicting the Hueco Tanks Battle of 1837.  The large figure in black pants is believed to represent a Spanish soldier.

This is more of the pictograph.  Much of it has unfortunately been defaced.  You can see a picture from 1915 of the complete pictograph if you follow the link above.

The walk had been pretty easy on level surfaces with a little climbing, but then that changed.

We climbed up the rock on the left and walked around the other side.  I was very grateful for the group of students and their professor from the University of Texas El Paso who were along on the tour.  One of the group was a mountain climber and was happy to lend us a helping hand around some of the rocks.

When we walked to the other side, we saw this dam which is thought to be built in the early 1900s by the Escontrita family who ranched here until the 1950s.

Here is one of the "huecos" with water.  There were hollows all around here that were full of water for the inhabitants. 

This is the last pictograph we saw in this little cave as well as another hueco with water.

We headed back and that mountain we climbed up, we would now have to climb down, but that was done on our bottoms by many of us. :)

We arrived back at our starting point about three hours later.  It was a wonderful tour!

We're signed up for a photography tour this afternoon, but I'll save that for another blog.


  1. So interesting to hear about places we never knew existed. This is going on the bucket list.

  2. Sorry I am so far behind. Sounds like a really interesting tour.