Offering an ideal location for both outdoor adventuring and city exploring, El Paso is full of state parks and historic sites. Discover early human history and gorgeous views when you go camping near El Paso.
There’s something for everyone near El Paso! Hikers, bikers and rock climbers enjoy the offerings of Franklin Mountains State Park, and groups of all sizes find a place to kick back while camping near El Paso. For an automatic crowd pleaser, explore the El Paso Scenic Drive to soak in the beauty of the city lights from both Texas and Mexico. If you’re into history, the Mission Trail and the Hueco Tanks Historic Site belong on your to-do list!
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Camping in El Paso, TX is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Chihuahuan Desert, while being near all the fun of a major U.S. city. El Paso has the well-earned nickname “Sun City” because it averages over 300 days of sparkling sun a year. Talk about paradise!
Located in the largest desert in the United States, El Paso is considered to be nestled in a high-altitude desert that enjoys temperate to subtropical weather year-round. From mouth-watering Tex Mex to rich historic sites, come see why El Paso is one of the best camping destinations in Texas.
Early to mid-spring and mid-fall are easily the best times of year to go camping near El Paso. Spring and fall are comfortably warm during the day, with nighttime temperatures usually somewhere in the 40s. It gets warm out this way, so spring and fall temperatures are often in the 80s during the day, though early spring temperatures are usually in the upper 60s and low 70s. Spring has the added bonus of being wildflower season if you’re looking for a tiebreaker.
Can you camp in El Paso during the summer and winter? Well, you can, but you may want to skip it. Unless you really handle heat well, summer camping in El Paso isn’t all that pleasant. Temperatures get up around 100 degrees, and it’s bone dry during the summers, so bring a ton of water if you want to go summer camping here.
Winter nights in El Paso can be frigid—it is a desert after all—and can reach into the low 30s. This could make tent camping chilly, so you’ll want to pack thermal layers, hats, gloves, and other cold weather gear.
The average daily high for summer months in El Paso is 96° and can push well into the 100s. Camping during this time can be uncomfortable in the desert heat, but it’s not impossible if you’re well prepared. Luckily, the El Paso heat is more dry compared to the humid, sticky summers you might find in the South. If you do decide to go camping near El Paso in the summer months, be sure to bring plenty of water, electrolyte packets or salt sticks, and sun protection.
Packing for a camping trip in El Paso will depend on the time of year you plan to go. In summer, sun protection and layers are important due to the sweltering temperatures that can climb well past 100° in the heat of the day. In winter, the nights can drop into the low 30s. You’ll need layers and a sleeping bag rated for below 30° if you plan on tent camping. Here are a few items we recommend bringing when camping near El Paso.
You should always do this; it’s just a good rule of thumb. However, in a place as dry as El Paso, you want to have even more water than you think you need. A couple of extra gallons can easily be stashed in your car. While you probably won’t need them, it sure doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Bring warm layers like sweatshirts and thermal under-layers. It often gets cool in the desert evenings.
Sunshirts are a great idea for camping in the summer months or if you plan to be in the sun for long periods of time. Clothing accessories like a cooling Buff or Kool Ties are helpful for sun protection in the hot summer months and as an additional layer during cool months.
Breathable hats with a wide brim and neck protection are also great ideas for camping in El Paso.
If you’re planning to car camp or bring your RV, a couple useful items for camping in El Paso include:
El Paso is a nature lover’s dream and offers a virtually endless list of outdoor activities in both the city and its surrounding areas. Here are a few of the best outdoor activities in El Paso, TX.
El Paso’s Hueco Tanks State Park is a world-renowned rock climbing mecca where you can test your mettle with a guided rock climbing course. Let the experts help you climb your way to the top of one of the park’s craggy peaks.
Renting a UTV for a fun day in the outdoors is one of the best ways to see the stunning Chihuahua Desert, all while enjoying the exhilarating thrill of zipping through the rocky, sandy terrain. UTV Off Road Adventures offers UTV tours with expert guides who can help you discover desert dwelling animals and the best routes for the most scenic views.
Winding its way right along with the Rio Grande River, El Paso’s River Park Trail is a great way to get in touch with nature in the city. The trail is 10.5 miles long and great for those who love to leisurely bike or run.
One of the most beautiful hidden gems in El Paso, the Municipal Rose Garden is a respite from the dusty desert and features over 500 varieties of roses. Sit and reflect among the burbling waterfalls and tranquil koi pond.
There are myriad things to do and sights to see during a visit to “Sun City.” Here are a few of the best things to do in El Paso, whether you’re looking for a family friendly activity or an exciting night on the town.
The El Paso Museum of Art is a beautiful testament to the culture and history of the city, shining a light on Indigenous artists throughout its exhibitions. With a collection of over 7,000 artworks, this museum offers free admission, which means a visit to this gorgeous gallery is a no-brainer on a trip to El Paso.
With over 35 acres of land to inspire and enrich younger generations, the El Paso Zoo & Botanical Garden is the perfect place to take the kiddos. Be sure to seek out the various enrichment activities they plan each weekend.
El Paso’s Plaza Theatre is a historical landmark that’s still in operation today. Built in 1930, the Plaza Theatre has been an integral part of the El Paso community for over 90 years. It’s a great place to catch a movie in between your explorations.
A visit to the Magoffin Home is a visit to America’s past. Telling the story of a family that helped shape El Paso into the town it is today, this historic site is a must-see if you’re interested in the city’s long and storied history.
A night out at a Chihuahuas baseball game is one of the most electrifying ways to spend your time in El Paso. Minor-league baseball packs double the fun of the major leagues, and the Chihuahuas are no exception.
El Paso’s Historic Mission Trail follows a nine-mile path visiting three of the oldest churches in all of Texas. The Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission, and San Elizario Chapel are the historic, stucco gems along a route studded with art galleries, museums, and restaurants featuring locally-inspired cuisine. The road itself is one of the oldest in America, making even the ground you walk on a vestige of the 1600s.
The El Paso Holocaust Museum was founded by Holocaust survivor, Henry Kellen, and is the only bilingual Holocaust museum in the U.S. The museum is free to visit and open Tuesday through Saturday, and Sundays by reservation only.
This is the place to be if you’re looking for locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious food truck options, and distinctive artwork. This farmer’s market is open every Sunday, year-round.
El Paso is located close to a few national parks, state parks, and national forests. From towering white sand peaks to the awe-inspiring spectacle of thousands of bats diving into the night sky, there are dozens of natural wonders to explore within a day’s drive of El Paso.
Carlsbad Caverns is worth the drive to experience the incredible bat phenomenon that occurs every night. With over 119 caves, impressively cavernous underground cathedrals, and subterranean ecosystems to explore, Carlsbad Caverns are a wonderland of natural formations.
A lesser-known but undoubtedly beautiful wilderness area, Guadalupe National Park has over 80 miles of hiking trails to explore and ancient reef formations to adore. It’s also home to the tallest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, at 8,749 feet tall.
Towering white sand hills deposited by an ancient sea await you at White Sands National Park. Located in southern New Mexico, White Sands is a great day trip from El Paso to see the unique, gypsum sand mountains juxtaposed by brilliantly blue New Mexican skies. Bring a sled and slide down the up-to-60-foot-tall mountains of powder.
Waterfalls, pine forests, and craggy rock formations abound in this wilderness tucked into the corner of southwest New Mexico, only two hours from El Paso. Gila National Forest is a certified dark park, meaning you’ll enjoy views of a stunning, starrysky should you stay the night. The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is also close by and yet another opportunity to explore the rich Indigenous culture of the American Southwest.
Three mountain ranges converge within the Lincoln National Forest, creating a diverse area where the desert meets alpine forests. This is a great place to visit if you’re looking for respite from the intense desert heat and fresh mountain air.
El Paso’s premier rock climbing destination, Hueco Tanks State Park is known for world-class bouldering and for its namesake, the huecos. Huecos are rock formations that naturally collect water and an important resource for the Indigenous people of this region.
Located just a short drive from downtown El Paso, Franklin Mountains State Park is a stunning example of what the city has to offer in terms of wildlife and natural areas. Hiking, mountain biking, camping, and rock climbing are all popular activities, and with over 128 miles of hiking trails to explore, Franklin Mountains State Park is the perfect place to get in a workout.
(2 hours, 45 minutes)
While Balmorhea State Park is a bit farther than the other options on our list, we think it’s worth the drive. Home to the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, Balmorhea State Park is a great place to go for a dip year-round as the water temperatures hover in the 70s.
El Paso sits directly on the border between Texas and Mexico, and it’s only a few miles from the New Mexico state line as well. Needless to say, El Paso’s cuisine is heavily influenced by traditional Mexican fare. Tex-Mex was actually created in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost part of Texas, but has spread to the far reaches of the U.S., including El Paso. Here are just a few of the best places in town to try the city’s unique blend of Mexican-meets-American and everything in between.
If you stop at one restaurant in El Paso, make it L & J Café. This family-run spot has been in operation since 1927 and is absolutely loved by everyone who passes through. While Tex-Mex is an incredibly popular style of Mexican food in the Lone Star State, L & J offers a more traditional Mexican menu. Not to say you won’t find Tex-Mex staples here, because you absolutely will, but your options are a bit more varied.
Kiki’s is known for serving up a mixture of traditional Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex favorites. The house specialty, beef machaca, was featured on the Food Network. Machaca is a Mexican dried meat that is rehydrated and served with chile sauce.
On everyone’s list for the best places to eat in El Paso, Cattleman’s Steakhouse specializes in what Texas is famous for—a big, juicy steak.
On the upscale side of El Paso’s dining experiences, Cafe Central is the perfect place for a fancy night out. Opened in 1918 across the border in Ciudad Juarez, they’ve had over 100 years to perfect their global menu.
The best traditional Mexican cuisine in El Paso, Cafe Mayapan dishes up classic favorites like nopalitos ensalata (cactus salad), flautas, and albondigas al chipotle (turkey meatballs in chipotle).
Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s is an El Paso institution and serves up some of the best Tex-Mex in town. Looking for enchiladas, burritos, and margaritas as big as Texas itself? You’ve come to the right place!
The Hoppy Monk is a haven for craft beer lovers. With dozens of beers on draft from every corner of the globe, it’s no wonder how this little gem got its name. An impressive collection of spirits and cocktail recipes goes perfectly with their delicious, American-inspired menu. Do note that it’s 21+ after 7 p.m..
Some of the most common camping mistakes when venturing into the outdoors near El Paso are…
Not bringing enough water or a filtration device. Speaks for itself!
Not bringing electrolyte replacement. Salt sticks, Liquid IV sticks, coconut water, or Gatorade powder are all great options. Drinking water alone is not enough to keep you hydrated on hot, arid summer days.
Camping during the height of summer without proper preparations. Make sure to bring all the right clothes and tools to endure the heat.
Not storing food properly. This can cause unwanted animals to enter your camp, including javelinas who have been known to cause injury to humans. Aside from that, improper food storage also causes animals to become dependent on humans for food.
Not being self-sufficient. Look, the likelihood that you have to actually do this is pretty low. It’s not like El Paso is an undeveloped city by any stretch of the imagination. However, once you get outside of the city, there isn’t a whole lot out there. Make sure you’ve got extra food and water packed. If your car breaks down, it can be a little while before a tow truck can get to you. While you’re at it, bring some extra fluids for your car and other roadside essentials.
There’s no need to worry about being out in the wide-open desert of west Texas. As long as you do your part and prepare well, you should be just fine. The likelihood that you run into any issues is low, and people are friendly out there, so you’re sure to find someone who will give you a hand if you have car trouble.
There is an endless stream of wildlife in El Paso thanks to its location in the biodiverse Chihuahuan Desert. Coyotes, bobcats, gray foxes, and deer are some of the larger mammals you might encounter. Skunks, squirrels, turtles, cottontails, and jackrabbits are all common as well.
While most of the animals that call El Paso home are harmless, others can be dangerous. Watch out for scorpions and venomous snakes, as well as javelinas who might come near your camp if you don’t properly store your food. Always be sure to shake out your footwear if you leave it outside at night to double-check for scorpions. Read up on mountain lion safety if you plan to go hiking or set up camp in remote areas.
El Paso is the perfect starting point for your adventures through west Texas and southern New Mexico. The desert here has an immense beauty and charm that you just have to experience for yourself to properly understand.