This park has achieved legendary status within the climbing community. Located 45 minutes outside of El Paso, many climbing-bum, dirt-bag, vans have parked here to send a few of its more notable bouldering “problems” and climbing routes. We saw more than a few of these great adventure rigs while there.
We had no idea about the daily permit situation when we pulled off the highway and drove the 8 miles to “check it out.” The ranger at the front gate handled the traffic coming into the park like a pro, even though there were a fair share of impatient people "who didn't understand the hold up, dude." And, he offered to call the office for us to see if there was a camping spot for the night. There was, and they saved it for us...and we stayed for 3 days! It pays to be kind and patient.
The granite like domes within this state park are covered with pre-historic, and more modern, pictographs, indicating that this area was legendary long before anyone decided to hook a chalk bag to their back pocket and squeeze their feet into tiny rubber shoes. The park protects these sites and limits the number of people accessing the “mountain” on a daily basis, even without a pandemic.
Much of the park is completely off-limits without a permitted guide service. All of these protections are designed to maximize use while minimizing damage to this incredible record of human history. The campsite is quiet, and tucked away in a corner of the park far from the more popular areas, under the backdrop of gorgeous rock. The bathrooms were clean and offered one of the more satisfying shower experiences of any campground in America. There are electrical hookups at some sites, but if you bring your solar panel you can camp at this beautiful campground for just $12 a night in one of their non-electric spots.
Daily hiking options are as numerous as the bouldering sites scattered throughout the North Mountain. Weaving your way through to the summit of the mountain is an adventure in and of itself. One unique feature of the park is that the gate closes at 6pm, to protect the archeological treasures, but it can be an inconvenience for campers. Plan accordingly.
El Paso is about 40 miles away and is the closest place to purchase gas, food, etc.