For our spring break, my cousin and our best friend drove 32+ hours to visit a friend stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. With only a small itinerary I composed from research on Google and Pinterest, we did not have much of an idea of what our week traveling and living in the desert would have in store. What follows are things we did while in El Paso and what I would’ve wanted someone to recommend to me.
1- EAT AT CATTLEMAN’S STEAKHOUSE
Cattleman’s Steakhouse is a beautiful restaurant located off of Interstate 10 five minutes north into the desert. If you’re planning on traveling to El Paso by car, Interstate 10 will resemble a road from hell. The highway takes you from Dallas to El Paso and consists of random villages and nothing but desert. Our first day, we wanted to eat at a restaurant unique to El Paso.
A local suggested we check out Cattleman’s Steakhouse, as it has “the best steak in the country.” We arrived to the restaurant without a reservation and had to wait a half hour to be seated. While we waited, we decided to explore the exterior and watch the sunset. Little did we know that there is a small petting zoo and several caged exhibits behind the steakhouse. We came across bunnies, several types of snakes, goats, llamas, and many more animals. However, nothing beat the gorgeous rays of sunshine spread wide across the desert. Hues of yellow, red, and orange reflected off the sandy desert ground and the shrubs blew in the wind. A memorable and must see view.
The food resembled the taste of a mother’s meal and had our tummies stuffed by desert. A huge bonus for me was that Apple Crumb was served for desert. A restaurant that serves apple crumb is an automatic 10/10.
2- HIKE GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The number one thing to do in El Paso is hike. Although Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about two and a half hours northwest of El Paso, the drive is worth it. With a variety of day hikes to choose from, each hike offers the opportunity to experience the variety of desert plants and beautiful scenery.
My friends and I hiked Devil’s Hall Trail about two hours before sunset. The hike follows the stream bed of Pine Springs Canyon into a hike up the natural rock of the Hiker’s Staircase to the finale. The Devil’s Hall, an intrinsic rock formation with a pathway like that resembles a hall, is absolutely stunning.
Not only does Guadalupe Mountains National Park offer day hikes, it offers camping, backpacking, and a variety of events. If I were to ever go back to Guadalupe, I’d definitely try camping there.
3- GO HORSEBACK RIDING IN THE DESERT
Located just minutes from anywhere in El Paso in Anthony, New Mexico, El Paso Trail Rides offers private horseback rides through the Chihuahuan Desert. Through an excursion of small cacti, brush, marsh, hilly terrain, and natural desert formations instructor and owner Greg Evans takes his groups on horseback for a view like no other.
When my cousin and our best friend pulled up to Black Range Horsemanship Camp we did not expect to be greeted by Evans’ pregnant dog and her lover. Those puppies followed us as we met each horse in its kennel and waited with us until Evans’ was back with his current group. We had an amazing ride with our unique and well-trained horses. Evans’ documented our ride with a group photo atop a desert formation and I still remember that voyage vividly to this day. Horseback riding in the Chihuahuan Desert is a memory I will never forget.
4 – EXPLORE CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in Carlsbad, New Mexico about 2 hours and a half from El Paso. And there is one thing I must say, the drive is worth it. If you’ve ever wanted to go deep into the Earth and take a look at what it looks like– now’s your chance. The one mile+ hike downward features dripping sediments from the ceiling, formations from thousand year old rocks, and bats waiting until dark to fly out of the cave.
The hike ends almost 4,000 feet below the service. The Big Room, a natural underground chamber, is fascinating. Stalactites cling to the ceiling and water that has seeped through the chamber fills natural springs. Although it was a big work out walking back up, the experience was a 10 out of 10.