Chamizal National Memorial#8 in Best Things To Do in El Paso
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For years, the boundary between the United States and Mexico was delineated by the Rio Grande. When the river shifted course in the mid-1800s due to flooding, it cut through El Chamizal, a piece of Mexican territory. Now that the river had moved, did that mean the boundary between the two countries moved, too? This question sparked a land dispute that lasted for a century. After years of arbitration and talks, the U.S. and Mexican governments resolved the dispute in 1963, though it caused a great amount of unrest from and uprooting for its citizens.
Present-day Chamizal National Memorial commemorates the end of the dispute. At the memorial, visitors can stop by the museum to learn about the history of the argument or visit the site's art gallery to see works by area artists. Travelers can further engage with El Paso's history and culture by attending one of the memorial's numerous events, which are hosted at the indoor theater and the outdoor stage. Available programs include outdoor summer concerts that are part of the Music Under the Stars series and performances tied to the annual Siglo de Oro Drama Festival, which celebrates Spanish theater. For those who won't be in town for a performance, there are several trails to explore on foot or by bike.
Past visitors offered mixed reviews of the site. While many found the memorial to be informative and enjoyed the museum, others were disenchanted by the mediocre grounds.
Chamizal National Memorial is free to visit. It sits 2 miles northeast of downtown. The park itself is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The Cultural Center, which houses the museum and art gallery, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To see an updated schedule of events and learn more about the memorial, check out the National Park Service's Chamizal National Memorial website.
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#1 Franklin Mountains State Park
Sweeping mountain vistas await travelers who decide to hike through Franklin Mountains State Park. The park lies less than 18 miles north of the city center and provides visitors with a feeling of being worlds away from civilization. There are more than 100 miles of hiking trails across roughly 27,000 acres, plus rock climbing opportunities and multiple campsites. You can also partake in ranger programs, such as guided hikes, bike tours and art activities. Astute hikers may also see several species of birds or – if they're lucky – mountain lions, among other animals.
Past tourists raved about the park. Many enjoyed their hikes and loved the views, adding that future travelers should try to time their hikes around sunset. Others warned that it can get particularly hot here in summer, so be sure to pack plenty of provisions.
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