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Heuco Tanks East Mountain

Hueco Tanks is an area of low mountains in Texasmarker, USAmarker. It is located in a high-altitude desert basin between the Franklin Mountains to the west and the Hueco Mountainsmarker to the east. Hueco is a Spanish word meaning hollows and refers to the many water-holding depressions in the boulders and rock faces throughout the region. Hueco Tanks is thus a redundant phrase.

Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is located in this area, approximately northeast of El Paso, Texasmarker. The park is popular for recreation such as birding and bouldering, and is culturally and spiritually significant to many Native Americans. This significance is partially manifested in the pictographs (rock paintings) that can be found throughout the region, many of which are thousands of years old. The park is in area.

In centuries past, the region was inhabited by a people known as the Jornada Mogollon (pronounced mo-goi-YONE). This culture existed in the region until about 1400 A.D., after which time the region was inhabited by the Apache people, who moved in from the North.

Bouldering on North Mountain at Hueco Tanks

Hueco Tanks is also widely regarded as one of the best areas in the world for bouldering (rock climbing, low enough to attempt without ropes for protection), unique for its rock type, the concentration and quality of the climbing. In any given climbing season, which generally lasts from October through March, it is common for climbers from across Europe, Asia, and Australia to visit the park. Since implementation of the Public Use Plan, following a brief closure of the entire park due to the park service's inability to manage the growing crowds of international climbers, volunteer or commercial guides are required to access more than 2/3 of the park's area. Only North Mountain is accessible without guides, and then only for about 70 people at any given time. The park offers camping and showers for about $7.00 a day or, as is most popular for climbers, the nearby Hueco Rock Ranch offers camping where climbers can relax and socialize. This is also where commercial guides can be found, and where many volunteer guides stay during the climbing season.

Hueco's future as a climbing site is currently in deep question, threatening closure pending the site's transfer to the Texas Historical Commission. The THC has a policy of closing sites to climbing due to damage to vegetation, damage to rock formations, and issues with trash clean-up. Climbers contend that these concerns are exaggerated.


  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, September 2004, The Rocks that Speak, Carol Flake Chapman, p41-45.
  • Turquoise Ridge and Late Prehistoric Residential Mobility in the Desert Mogollon Region, Whalen, Michael E., Salt Lake City University of Utah Press, 1994.
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Volume II, p203-205. (Mogollon)

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