Climb Like a Local: Hueco Tanks

12/15/2016

Categories: Climb Like a Local

This sacred desert sanctuary is home to what many believe is the best bouldering in the country. But be prepared to work the system to get in.

Photo: Hueco Tanks | © John Dickey

Local Vibe: The Hueco scene is truly international. Visitors come from all over the world and are super friendly and psyched to climb. The local El Paso climbing scene is also growing, as visitors discover the magic of the area and low cost of living.

Work the System: Climbing at Hueco is all about airtight preparation. Access to the park is tightly controlled by Texas Parks & Wildlife. The only reliable way to climb at North Mountain is to get a reservation. There are 10 walk-in spots every day, but don’t count on scoring one of these during the busy season. The only way to access the backcountry (everything outside of North Mountain) is through a guided tour. The park gets booked up quickly, so make your reservations and schedule your guides far in advance.

  • For North Mountain reservations, call 512-389-8900
  • For guided Backcountry Tours, call (915) 849-6684 or visit www.wagonwheelcoopt.com

Watch Out: Hueco is home to spectacular petroglyphs and sacred sites. Look, but do not touch! Respect closures and avoid climbing at rock art sites, even if a closure sign is not present.

Local Pet Peeve: There’s no easier way to incur the wrath of the locals than by not respecting the rules of the system. Locals work hard to maintain a good relationship with Texas Parks & Wildlife to keep the park open to climbing, and one person’s bad behavior could ruin it for everyone.

Pro Tip: Take the time to smell the forest, even though you’re in the desert. Magic hour is an unforgettable experience in Hueco—the rocks come alive as the day ends. Hueco is one of the most sacred places I have ever visited—the history, the rock art, and the climbing—respect it and realize it is more than just an outdoor climbing gym. ~Jason Kehl, local pro

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