My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Quick Visit to Heuco Tanks

On the second day of my trip to California, I crossed into mountain time before I got to El Paso, and with typical blonde logic, decided I had enough extra time to drive up to Hueco Tanks State Park, about 20 miles north of El Paso and spend a few hours.  This place is so special and has spiritual vibes for me. It is an amazing oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert.  What looks like huge piles of rocks, has been a major source of water for over 10,000 years and is a sacred place to several Indian tribes. Rainwater is caught in basins hallowed out of the rocks by wind and water, and in splits formed in the rocks. I think the geology of the place is fascinating. There are also lots of birds and plants there, some rare,  so the biology is also interesting. 

This spot has thousands of pictographs put here by several different cultures over 10,000 years, but you have to go on one of several trips led by volunteers to get to see most of them. These and the stories about the use of this place by the native peoples are spellbinding. Some of pictographs have been vandalized, so the park is locked up at 6:00 the evening and people are escorted to most places. Hueco Tanks consist of North Mountain, West Mountain, East Mountain, and East Spur but you can only wander by yourself on North Mountain. 

The Entrance
A view on the way to headquarte
Before I could walk around, I first had to go the the Interpretive Center and watch a very interesting video,designed to give a little understanding of the historical importance of this spot and teach respect for it.   The film had several Indians speaking about how this was a sacred place to them, and told the story of Silverio Escontrias and his family who had a huge ranch here for over 50 years, starting in 1898. The video also talked about the Butterfield Overland Mail which ran from St. Louis and San Francisco and used this spot as a way station because of the dependable water there.

The Interpretive Center and Escontrias home
 Rock climbing is allowed on the North Mountain and this guy passed me while I was going up the mountain.

Climber going up with his equipment

Plants in the rock
Rock detail - these rocks have been weathering for a long while

Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) bloom
Looking way down to parking lot and Interpretive Center
I was not there on a day that volunteers lead trips to the really good paintings. But I was there in 2005 and went on one of the trips with my friend, Hulin. Here is a link to pictograph pictures I took then.

I finally tore myself away knowing I still had another 300 miles to go that day to get to Tuscon, AZ. I made it in time to take a few pictures before dark, then got a good night's rest before meeting Carole DeAngeli early the next morning.