El Paso is a place I’ve only ever driven through. But with the city in the news so often – mostly because of its border with Mexico, one of the busiest crossings in the country – I felt it time to actually stop and explore the place. Plus, the beauty of southern New Mexico’s national parks is a natural pairing, making this a trip of both natural wonder and man-made history and politics.

As always, content from the trip will be a few weeks behind my actually experiencing it, so the best way to keep up on a real-time basis is via my Instagram account, where I’ll post daily photo highlights.

So here is the rough itinerary. Note that some days are liable to change places with others due to scheduling, weather, and the exigencies of real life.

El Paso and Southern New Mexico Itinerary

Day One – Los Angeles to Tucson

El Paso is a two day drive in each direction, so today is getting a chunk of that in the rear view mirror. I won’t have time to do anything in Tucson, but click here to read about some awesome southern Arizona activities.

Day Two – Tucson to Carlsbad

After a visit to the “recycled roadrunner” statue on the AZ/NM border, I’m having lunch in Las Cruces with the visitors bureau. (They will be hosting two of my writers later this year, so stay tuned for some awesome content about the area.) Then it’s off to Carlsbad, New Mexico for the night.

Day Three – Carlsbad to El Paso

The morning will be spent in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, one of the largest and most beautiful cave systems in the world. It will be my third trip, and I seriously can’t wait! After a quick lunch, the drive to El Paso passes through Guadalupe Mountains National Park, a great place for a stop to see a group of mountains that look like they are totally out of place in the Texas desert. I’ll end at my Airbnb in downtown El Paso.

Day Four – El Paso

The plan today is to drive El Paso’s Mission Trail, a chain of three Spanish missions that helped to colonize the area.

Day Five – El Paso

I don’t feel I can accurately write about El Paso without talking about the border, and I don’t feel I can talk about the border without crossing. So today I am going on a guided walking tour of Juarez, Mexico. I’m a bit nervous, but more excited.

Day Six – El Paso

After experiencing Juarez, today I’ll visit Chamizal, a monument to the shifting of the Rio Grande and the changing of the border as a result. Evening will be spent at Scenic Drive with a picnic dinner overlooking the city.

Day Seven – El Paso

Today I’ll be getting out of town, heading to White Sands National Park back in New Mexico to slide down the world’s largest gypsum sand dunes. I’ve been once before, and can’t wait to return!

Day Eight – El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso has a museum about the history of the region, and a desert garden. Both are free, and both interest me. Afterward, I’ll visit the museum of history run by the city. Yay for learning!

Day Nine – El Paso to Phoenix

It’s time to start the long drive back home.

Day Ten – Phoenix to Los Angeles

Home after a hectic, and hopefully meaningful, trip.

So that’s the trip. Below is a map of the El Paso area. You can see white sands to the north. Carlsbad is off the screen up and to the right. The flag marks El Paso itself.

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