Would you believe that there are five national parks within fairly close proximity to El Paso? With a little planning, a full tank of gas, a picnic lunch, and a few potty stops, we could be smack dab in the midst of some of the most beautiful places in the United States. How lucky are we?
Check out the five national parks within driving distance of El Paso from furthest to closest.
1. Big Bend National Park (5 hours away)
1 Panther Junction, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
If you’re looking for some awe-inspiring southwest Texas vistas, Big Bend National Park is your place. The breathtaking views might be the highlight of your visit, but the wildlife, hiking, canoeing, and history are great reasons to visit as well. There’s something for everyone: mountains, rivers, forests, and canyons. And who knew? Big Bend National Park is one of the best places in the world for stargazing! Get more details about Big Bend on the NPS website.
2. Saguaro National Park (4.5 hours away)
3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, Arizona 85730 & 2700 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85743
This symbol of the southwest, the Saguaro cactus, only grows in a small area of the country. And it’s protected inside Saguaro National Park near Tucson. Go for the cacti, but don’t miss the scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and hiking. And of course, you’ll need to stay for that Instagram-able Saguaro silhouetted in the sunset photo. Get more details about Saguaro National Park on the NPS website.
3. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (2 hours and 20 min away)
727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220
Need some relief from the desert heat? No problem! Just head underground into Carlsbad Caverns. The caves are a cool 56 degrees all year round and boast some of the most majestic cave formations and underground pools in the world. From May-October, don’t miss the nightly Bat Flight Program as bats emerge from the caverns and create quite the spectacle. Get more details about Carlsbad Caverns National Park on the NPS website.
4. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (1 hour and 50 min away)
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Salt Flat, TX 79847
This national park is a west Texas hidden gem. It’s actually one of the least visited national parks in the U.S. But the lack of crowds is part of its charm. This park boasts Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. If you’re not up for that big hike, not to worry because there are so many hiking trails at all levels of difficulty. The Guadalupe Mountains used to be an undersea marine reef. So keep your eyes peeled for fossils! Get more details about Guadalupe Mountains National Park on the NPS website.
5. White Sands National Park (1.5 hours away)
White Sands National Park Visitor Center, U.S. 70, Alamogordo, New Mexico
Last but certainly not least is White Sands National Park, the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. I wrote all about this breathtakingly beautiful park here: 10 Tips for Taking Kids to White Sands National Park. I’m completely enamored by White Sands and can’t wait to go back. Get more details about White Sands National Park on the NPS website.
So which park do you plan to visit? Let us know about your favorite things to do at these national parks in the comments below.