The largest US city on the Mexican frontier, El Paso is known for its remarkable desert landscape and enriched flora and fauna. While the city is majorly known for its natural landscapes, there is no shortage of other significant cultural attractions here for travelers to explore. Franklin Mountain State Park, one of the most prominent attractions in the city, is a favorite among the locals as well as outsiders. On the other hand, the El Paso mission trail takes visitors around some of the most astonishing multicultural heritage around the city.
If you are exploring the city and wish to take a weekend detour to visit the nearby attractions, here is a list of the top 5 weekend getaways from El Paso:
Carlsbad, New Mexico
Best known for its namesake Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad is an amazing weekend destination from El Paso located in the heart of the Chihuahuan desert. Home to over 100 stunning caves, the National Park is filled with fantastic geological formations and, for those who seek it, a bit of underground adventure. The 3.1-hectare Big Room, a colossal stalactite and stalagmite-festooned chamber with a ceiling that reaches up to 78 meters high are among the most popular attractions here. Other famous attractions here include Sitting Bull Falls, Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park, and Lake Carlsbad, and the Pecos River.
Best Time to Visit: The most suggested time to view the flowers is usually mid-March through Mid-April, with Easter being the optimal time.
How to Reach: There are three different ways to get from El Paso to Carlsbad – by air, bus, or car. While a flight is a costlier option and would take between $82 to $122, a direct bus between the two locations takes around three hours and costs between $23 to $35.
Named after Our Lady of Guadalupe, the vision of the Virgin Mary, who appeared to Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1531, the county is popular among travelers for its magnificent lakes and outstanding landscapes. Situated within the county, Santa Rosa, also known as the ‘City of Natural Lakes’, houses 15 distinct lakes and streaks and as many as four city parks. Fishing enthusiasts would find ample opportunities around Pecos River. Some other places of interest here are Park Lake, Janes Wallace Memorial Park and Power Dam, and Perch Lake.
Best Time to Visit: The months of March, April, and October are the most suggested time to visit the county whereas July and August are the least preferred time.
How to Reach: The easiest way to travel between the two destinations is to get by a self-driven car. The journey takes around five and a half around and costs between $26 to $37.
The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe lies on a stream of the Rio Grande on the southwestern slopes of the snowclad mountains of Sangre de Cristo. Its picturesque streets and lanes, low adobe houses, beautiful Spanish colonial churches, as well as the profusion of Native American arts and crafts and contemporary art have long been a sightseeing attraction for tourists. Canyon Road, a former trading route, is now home to numerous galleries, art studios, cafes, and restaurants. Other remarkable places to explore here are Santa Fe Opera House, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and Museum of New Mexico Complex.
Best Time to Visit: The most preferred time to visit Santa Fe is between the months between September to November.
How to Reach: You could either take a flight from El Paso to Santa Fe which costs between $200 and $800 in airfare. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Santa Fe that takes five and a half hours and costs around $40 to $60.
Once a major stoppage for travelers between San Diego and San Antonio, the quaint little town of Mesilla is a perfect weekend destination near El Paso that takes you back in time. Home to the infamous courtroom where the scandalous murder trial of Billy the Kid took place, the town is also known for its authentic dining and cultural experiences. The Basilica of San Albino is one of the oldest churches in the area. History buffs would love exploring the Mesilla Plaza that is surrounded by many historic buildings that form a National Historic Landmark District.
Best Time to Visit: The best time of year to visit Mesilla for general outdoor tourist activities is from early June to mid-September, with a peak season towards the end of June.
How to Reach: To travel between El Paso and Mesilla, you can either take a bus, taxi or drive on your own. The journey, irrespective of which mode you opt for, takes under an hour and costs a maximum of $160.
White Sands, NM
White Sands National Monument is located in southern New Mexico near the border of Texas and Mexico. One of the most underrated national parks in the United States, White Sands remains largely undisturbed by commercialism and over-tourism. The pure white dunes almost look like snowdrifts. The gypsum dunes are home to a unique ecosystem of plants and wildlife, many of which only exist here in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert. Hiking, biking, sand sledding, and climbing the dunes are some of the popular activities here.
Best Time to Visit: The most suggested time to explore White Sands is from late October to early November when the Cottonwoods change color.
How to Reach: If you are on a budget, the most recommended way to get to White Sands is to get on a bus from Downtown El Paso to New Mexico State University and then transfer to White Sands. The fare takes around $5 to $6.