Bordered by desert and mountains and the Rio Grande, by Old Mexico and New Mexico, El Paso is situated in a truly unique place. Whether you live in the city and are looking for something new to do, or are visiting West Texas from out of town, these scenic drives never get old.
This is Part One of an ongoing series. In today’s article, we’ll explore three drives situated in or very close to El Paso. In Part Two, our ambition level will go up a bit, so get ready for some slightly further (but totally worth it) day trips. Texas is one of the best states to explore by car, so gas up your sedan, truck, or SUV and come along for some of the most gorgeous drives in the southern United States:
El Paso Scenic Drive
Since El Paso sits right on the border of Juarez, it makes sense that there’s a road that gives you the perfect vantage point. Whether day or night, take a drive down the appropriately named El Paso Scenic Drive. With plenty of places to stop, get out and stretch your legs, this drive gives you a breathtaking view of both El Paso and Juarez. On a clear day or night, you’ll see the mountains, the Rio Grande, Gadsdsen Purchase and miles into Mexico. Note: On Sunday mornings between spring and fall, the road is generously closed for hikers and bikers, so if you plan on doing this route by sedan or truck, you may want to hop in the car on Saturday.
Not sick of the views of El Paso and Juarez yet? Ditto. Thankfully, there are plenty of roads that’ll take you to panoramic, sweeping vistas. One of these roads is Rim Road. If you’re in downtown El Paso, take a right on Rim Road from Stanton Street North. Along this drive, you will see gorgeous views of all of El Paso and Juarez, and you’ll also drive through Manhattan Heights, one of El Paso’s oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods.
The Franklin Mountains are named after Benjamin Franklin Coons, who bought what is now El Paso back in 1849. Before he bought himself this “ranch” (nice life, huh?), Native Americans had been crossing these mountains and the Rio Grande for many, many moons. In fact, the oldest pictogram confirms human presence in these parts dating back nearly 12,000 years.
Which is all to say—it’s a sweet place to visit, especially by car so you can take it all in. Along the 11-mile Trans-Mountain Highway, you’ll see some of the oldest rocks in Texas. This means that just a hop, skip and a jump from El Paso and Juarez, two hustling and bustling cities, you will find yourself face to face with Precambrian rocks that are at least 600 million years old.
The Franklin Mountains are steeped in both human and natural history, making the Trans-Mountain Highway a stunning drive and daytrip. On top of the beautiful drive, there are plenty of places in Franklin Mountains State Park to get out, hike, picnic and rock climb.
And there you have it. The top three drives to take in El Paso. Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll hop on the 10 and cruise past Las Cruces. On the next three drives, we’ll take a whirl through some backcountry, see some blindingly white gypsum sand dunes and find ourselves in a ghost town. We were going to make this a two-part series, but there’s just too much to see in the great state of Texas.
Oh, and friendly remember: before you throw on the tunes and strap in for a long one, don’t forget to gas up your car. Some of these drives are a long way from a gas station, and you don’t want to find yourself ditching your little VW or station wagon to wander an empty mountain road in search of gas. Not that West Texans aren’t friendly, it’s just that…humans only lease these parts. Cougars own the place, so gas that baby up.
Happy driving, El Paso! And if you're looking for a more comfortable ride don't hesitate to visit the top rated car dealer in the El Paso & Las Cruces area, Hoy Family Auto.