Despite the other four places I’ve lived, Fort Bliss was, hands down, my favorite place to live. The just over three years I spent there were jam-packed with adventures, family fun, and day trips. Surprisingly, even though it's in a desert, there’s a lot to do around Fort Bliss. The following are my top 10 day-trips.
#10 - Hueco Tanks
Have you ever wanted to hike and climb around on giant rocks randomly in the middle of the desert? Well, this is the place for you! Along the beautiful hikes, you can view thousands of ancient pictographs, and you might catch a glimpse of a diamondback rattlesnake (just like we did).
#9 - Mount Cristo Rey
This is a beautiful and easy hike, giving you an astonishing view of the El Paso and Juarez cities. While you are walking up a mountain, the trail (or shall I say, dirt road) is perfect for hikers of many capabilities. At the top, you are met with a profound limestone statue of Christ, the main draw for this hike. However, the hike is open on a limited basis, so it might be difficult to fit into your schedule.
#8 - Chihuahua Baseball
This minor league baseball team is the sport of El Paso! With a field located smack dab in the middle of downtown, it’s not easy to get to but well worth it. My family and I went to multiple games, and while we got rained out at one (I know - rain in the desert???), we still had a blast.
These villages are in New Mexico, about two hours and a half hours from Fort Bliss. Their geography is absolutely stunning, as they are both located in piney mountains, offering plenty of hiking. While Fort Bliss doesn’t get much snow, Cloudcroft and Ruidoso definitely do, and they are the prime spots for snow tubing and sledding (Ski Cloudcroft and Ruidoso Winter Park). Also, their little villages are absolutely adorable, with little treasures of shops to walk through. The only downside is the tourist draw, so the line to tube/sled might take, well, a very long time.
#6 - The El Paso Zoo
My 10-year-old self definitely enjoyed this zoo, and I’m sure my 16-year-old self would still have fun. Feeding giraffes, setting eyes upon sleeping African-painted dogs, admiring the odd positions meerkats lounge in, and watching as lions kept a close eye on the planes flying from the airport were all incredibly entertaining. The El Paso sun is warm, but it didn’t stop us from walking around for hours.
With El Paso being situated around the Franklin Mountains, there’s no shortage of mountain biking and hiking trails, within and outside the National Park. Some of my family’s personal favorites were the Lazy Cow Trail and the Lost Dog Trail (perfect for inexperienced mountain bikers), the Tin Mine Trail (perfect for an easy hike), and the Mammoth’s Trunk Trail (for a more difficult yet beautiful hike). I have many fond memories of all these trails, and they allow you to experience the beautiful scenery of El Paso.
Every Saturday, from 0830 to 1300, Las Cruces hosts a special Farmers and Crafts Market. Believe me when I tell you that it has everything you could dream of - tons of delicious food, unique art (and I mean unique), and lots of amazing vendors to strike up a conversation with. Additionally, the market is located along Main Street, so not only can you walk through the vendors, but you can also visit dozens of stores.
#3 - The Pink Store
If you drive up the Mexican border for about an hour and a half, you’ll come to the town of Columbus, New Mexico, located adjacent to Puerto Palomas, Mexico. The famed Pink Store lies within walking distance of the border. This store, or more accurately, collection of buildings, holds a plethora of Mexican art - loads and loads of little trinkets and big trinkets. Your visit comes with complimentary sodas, and you can eat lunch while listening to an authentic Mariachi band.
About a two-and-a-half hour drive from Fort Bliss and 1,000 feet underground lies the Carlsbad Caverns. This absolutely immense cave system with an extensive network of paths can keep a family involved for hours. The limestone features are mind-boggling, as well as the number of bats. There’s both a path and an elevator to get down/up, just know that, on the path, you’ll be accompanied by the stench of bat poo. Pro tip: to avoid lines, take the elevator down and hike up.
What’s better than sledding in the winter? Sledding in the summer! Located about an hour and a half from Fort Bliss, the sprawling gypsum dunes are a sight worth seeing. Just remember to bring baby powder to get all the sand off! And be on the lookout for albino crickets; they’re quite an awesome find. Pro tip: wax your sleds for a smoother ride.
I could go on and on about the hidden gems within and around Fort Bliss. The International UFO Museum near Ruidoso was…intriguing. Red Sands is the perfect place to go offroading. Cattleman’s Steakhouse is by far the coolest restaurant! The Sunland Park (horse)Racing track is quite neat. I found much joy in living at Fort Bliss, and maybe this guide can help you find that joy, too.