Hueco Tanks Bouldering FAQ
Are you planning your first trip to Hueco? Got any questions about the logistics? Check out these answers! If you have a question that isn't listed below, please contact us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
When is the best time to climb in Hueco Tanks?
Hueco Tanks is in a high-altitude desert, and most people prefer to climb in the nice cool temps
between November and March. The busiest times are Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Years, and Spring Break
weeks. However, we climb at Hueco year round! And the summer can sometimes be the best, because
there is no one else there and you can get on your climb without having to worry about a line!
There are not many guides in the area year-round, so if you are looking for someone during the off-season, reserve a guide for a bouldering tour.
Can I only climb in the winter?
Absolutely not! We climb all year round in Hueco Tanks! Sometimes it gets a little hot midday, but it is easy to find a lot of really fun problems that are hidden in the shade.
Can I climb in/after rain?
Unfortunately, climbing in the rain or shortly after a rain is very likely to break holds. Please refrain from pulling on any flakes or crimps within about 24 hr of the last rain. There are several roof areas that completely avoid the face holds (Martini Roof on North Mountain and The Aircraft Carrier on East Mountain, for example), but it can be difficult to hike around if the rock is wet.
Is there a guidebook?
Matt Wilder wrote the most recent book,
last printed in 2004. It currently sells for over $200 because Matt is planning on releasing a second
edition soon. John Sherman also has a great book,
"Hueco Tanks Climbing and Bouldering Guide,"
and it is only $22, but it is from 1995. A lot of new areas have been developed since Sherman's
(and Wilder's!) book was printed, so ask a guide for information about new routes (even on North Mountain).
I like having both books, since Sherman tells you things like length or height of the route, and Wilder's
has color photographs.
You can also find a decent amount of info on the Hueco Tanks, Mountain Project website, though a lot of the information is not accurate.
How do I get a guide for the backcountry?
Fill out the following form to schedule a bouldering or yoga tour through the Hueco Tanks backcountry!
What can I expect from a guided tour?
You can choose between a public and private tour.
Public tours may fill up with other climbers that you don't know, or you may jump in on an already scheduled open tour. The primary person that scheduled the tour gets to decide the main areas that the group will visit, and the guide will try to accommodate as many requests from the other clients as possible. Public tours cost $25 per person. Tips are greatly appreciated.
Private tours are scheduled between your group and the guide, and no one else will join your tour. As the primary client, you get to decide where the tour goes, and the guide will try to accomodate as much of your requests as possible. Private tour prices need to be negotiated with the guide, but they are typically $130 + $12/person.
Why do I need a guide for the backcountry?
Hueco Tanks is an extremely special location for multiple user groups: native Americans, climbers,
birders, hikers, and others. Because of its unique features, people have been drawn to Hueco Tanks for
several thousand years. Many have left behind evidence of their presence, including over 200 different
rock art locations and over 800 different pieces of rock art. You can take a
Pictograph Tour on a rest day if you're interested.
Hueco Tanks is also located in the Chihuahuan desert, making the plant and animal life very fragile.
Unfortunately, users in the last several decades have defaced countless rock art panels, killed plants, and trashed the park with broken glass. To give wildlife a chance, and to help protect the native rock art, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department implemented a system where visitors may roam free on North Mountain, but must obtain guides on East Mountain, East Spur, and West Mountain.
Click here for more information about Hueco Tanks access.
What about these cheap/free volunteer tour guides?
Volunteer tour guides are exactly that: volunteers for the park and for you, the climber. Volunteer
tour guides are NOT allowed to climb during a tour, and they are NOT allowed to get paid or accept tips.
Thus, the park sometimes has difficulty finding enough volunteer tour guides for all of the scheduled
volunteer tours. If Hueco Tanks is not able to find a volunteer for your tour, then your tour will not
happen. If you want to guarantee a tour, then you should instead
schedule a commercial bouldering tour. Also,
volunteer tours almost always fill up with 10 climbers during the busy season. Thus, you will likely have
to climb with people you don't know, who might have much greater or much less climbing ability than you.
Click here for more information about Hueco Tanks access.
Where is Hueco Tanks? Or, how do I get there?
Hueco Tanks is located about 20 miles east of El Paso, Texas.
If you are flying, ELP is the nearest airport. Southwest Airlines flies here, which makes it easy if you decide you need to change your trip dates.
If you are driving, take I-10 to El Paso coming from either the east or west. You'll want to go east on Montana Ave (US 62/180) until you see what looks like a UFO on the left. Turn left onto Hueco Tanks Rd and go another 5.5 miles up to the park gates.
Where can I get food?
The nearest grocery store is the Montana Vista Mercado, which is just under 12 miles from the
gates of Hueco Tanks. The best burrito joint in town is right behind the Vista, El
Pasito Duranguito Meat Market.
It has a humble exterior, but don't let that fool you, they have $3 burritos that can compete with
anything else you've eaten!
Where can I stay?
The park has the best facilities, but it is also a bit more expensive:
Campsites with water and electricity are $16/night, and sites without
electricity are $12/night. Up to six people may occupy a campsite.
There are also multiple private camping sites in the area. Vcrux, Gleatherland, Hueco Rock Ranch Hueco Hacienda
We will soon be offering a place to stay, with the absolutely best view of North Mountain of any site. Please check back soon for more information.
When is the park open?
Winter hours are 8 AM to 6 PM, Mountain time (October to April).
Summer hours are 7 AM to 7 PM (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), 8 AM to 6 PM all other days, MST (May to September).
The office closes about an hour prior to the gate, so if you're camping, you must check in an hour prior to closing time.
Gates lock at night, and you must either be back at your park campsite, or be out of the park, prior to locking. You cannot leave the park after closing unless you have an emergency.
How do I get crash pads there?
If you have a small pad, you can usuall check it for free. We have had luck with a standard 5" pad,
even though it is technically larger than allowed. Big pads will require an extra fee, usually about $50
Don't throw your money away on checking your crash pad! Rent a pad from us instead.
What are the easy climbs like?
Sharp! Often times, your skin will give out before your muscles. You also need to watch out for
flappers. Bring a fingernail clipper, an emory board, climbing tape, and maybe even some super glue.
Hueco Tanks is also where the V-scale was started. Older problems might seem a bit sandbagged. On your first trip, don't get frustrated if you end up climbing one to two grades below your gym grade. Remember, a V0 is supposed to be equivalent to a hard 5.9 or easy 5.10, neither of which are "easy" climbs for new climbers!
What type of payments do you accept?
Blue Lizard accepts cash and most guides accept credit card (via Square: Visa, MasterCard, American Express,
Discover, JCB, UnionPay, please double check with your guide prior to your tour). Cash is
preferred. Payment is due at the end of the tour, though you may arrange pre-payment if you prefer.
As of now, we are still waiting to receive the EMV/contactless card reader from Square.
Tips are greatly appreciated.
Why should I hire Blue Lizard as my guide?
Blue Lizard offers competitive pricing and knowledge of a wide range of boulder problems. We specialize
in working with clients that are fairly new to climbing and that want to get on some of the easier
problems that Hueco Tanks has to offer, or that have never bouldered outside before. However, if you're
a seasoned Hueco climber, we're still the guides for you! We know where the classics are, and how to get
to the new problems as well!
We also specialize in photographing your bouldering sends so you can focus on your climbing!
What photography services do you offer?
Blue Lizard offers exceptional still photography services while you climb or practice yoga, so that you can focus on your climbing or your yoga practice instead of whether someone got that awesome shot.