Dec. 5, 2011
By Jon Cooper
There is a lot more to El Paso, Texas, than just the Hyundai Sun Bowl. While Yellow Jackets fans have plans for New Year’s Eve day, there are plenty of things to do and to know about while visiting El Paso. Here are just a few things to know about the town memorialized in song by Marty Robbins back in 1959 and some things to look forward to should you head there a little early.
What is El Paso?
El Paso is the fourth-largest city in Texas (249 square miles) and is the sixth-most populated city in the state (800,647). The average temperature in the winter in 55 to 60 degrees, and receives an average of 8.65 inches of rain a year. Make sure to set your watch back two hours, as El Paso is on Mountain Time.
Where is El Paso?
Located in the western most corner of Texas — where Texas, New Mexico and Mexico meet — Los Angeles is 710 miles to the east, 670 miles to the west, 565 miles southwest of Dallas and 710 miles south of Denver.
How can I get there?
By car, it’s a mere 1,420 miles door-to-door from Bobby Dodd Stadium to Sun Bowl Stadium. According to Google Maps, the trip can be navigated in 23 hours, 35 minutes. For those preferring not to drive, you can leave on Dec. 26 (or even as late as Dec. 29) and return on Jan. 2, and fly Delta, with two tickets costing $565.40. AirTran offers six flights but to Hobby Airport in Houston. Tickets start at $164 and go to $308. Of course, once you land in Houston you’d then have to drive another 750 miles to get to El Paso.
What is there to do in El Paso?
In a word, plenty. Here are just some of the attractions.
- Amigo Airsho: Featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels (http://www.amigoairsho.org/general_info.sstg).
- Ascarate Lake: The largest public recreational park in El Paso County, it’s 448 acres and offers playgrounds, picnic areas, a park that includes 5 softball fields, a baseball field, two soccer fields and an 18-hole golf course. Ascarate Lake is 18 acres and features canoe and pedal boat rides. (http://www.co.el-paso.tx.us/parksandrec/ascaratepark/)
- Chamizal National Memoria (http://www.nps.gov/cham/index.htm)
- Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site: An 860.3-acre park named for the large natural rock basins or “huecos.” Activities include camping, hiking, rock climbing, rock paining, guided tours. (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/hueco_tanks/)
- El Paso Zoo (http://www.elpasozoo.org/)
- El Paso Speedway Park: A 3/8s of a mile clay oval track (http://www.epspeedwaypark.com/)
- The Carlos M. Ramirez TecH2O Water Resources Learning Center (see www.tech2o.org/index.html)
- Go Bowling!: Try out some of the lanes which influenced the U.S. Bowling Congress to name the city host of the 2015 USBC Open Championships. Here’s a list of alleys from which to choose: http://visitelpaso.com/visitors/to_do/6-sports/sections/35-bowling/places.
Famous El Paso Residents
People who were born or lived in El Paso; (in no particular order):
- Debbie Reynolds, actress
- Robert Englund, actor, aka Freddy Krueger
- Sherman Hemsley, actor, aka George Jefferson from The Jeffersons
- Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek
- Thomas Hayden Church, actor, aka Lowell Mather in Wings and Ned in Ned and Stacey
- Vicki Carr, singer, whose hits included “He’s a Rebel” and “It Must Be Him”
- Sam Donaldson, newsman
- Sandra Day O’Connor Supreme Court justice
- Irene Ryan, actress best known as “Granny” in the “Beverly Hillbillies,” but also a Tony Award nominee in 1972 for “Pippin.”
- Patrick Forrester, retired Army officer and NASA Astronaut — he’s logged 621 hours in space and has done four space walks.
- John Daniel “Danny” Olivas, Astronaut, who has flown two shuttle missions.
- John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing, Army officer in World War I and the only general ever promoted to the rank of General of the Armies, the highest rank held in the Army, in his lifetime. Considered a mentor to World War II generals George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton and El Paso native Omar Bradley.
- Paul Ray Smith, Joseph C. Rodriguez, Medal of Honor recipients in Iraq and World War II
- Anthony Quinn
- F. Murray Abraham
- Bobby Fuller, of the Bobby Fuller Four, who recorded the original “I Fought the Law.”
- Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac lead vocalist
- Phil Ochs
- Nikki Sixx, bassist, Motley Crue
- Nate “Tiny” Archibald, NBA veteran point guard
- Bob Beamon, Olympic Champion and longtime world record holder in the long jump
- Randall “Tex” Cobb, boxer, actor, aka Leonard Smalls in Raising Arizona
- Willie Shoemaker, four-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey and winner of 11 Triple Crown races
- Lee Trevino, Hall of Fame golfer
One More Fun Fact About El Paso
One thing to NOT do in El Paso is pay taxes, as the city has no state, county or city income tax. For more information, visit the El Paso Visitor’s Bureau at www.visitelpaso.com.