You probably wouldn’t go skydiving without a parachute. You definitely wouldn’t drive a racecar that had no brakes. But would you climb rocks without any gear? Find out at Hueco Tanks State Park!
Hueco Tanks is known for its “bouldering.” Bouldering is the sport of climbing rocks without any sort of safety harness. Apparently, this type of rock climbing is popular throughout the country. Hueco Tanks is known as one of the best “bouldering” spots in the world!
In part, this is because the rocks at Hueco Tanks are spotted with depressions called “hollows”. These hollows were carved out by water over many thousands of years. Some of them still hold water, while others are dry. The Spanish word for “hollow” is “hueco.” So that’s how Hueco Tanks got its name.
The smaller hollows have a benefit for rock climbers. They make excellent handholds! So it’s easier to climb Hueco Tanks without gear than it normally would be.
The larger hollows are also great for plants like juniper, which use the water in the hollows in order to grow. Normally, plants like juniper wouldn’t be able to live in this environment, but the water-filled hollows allow them to thrive.
Photo: @szustakowski.sally via Twenty20
If you aren’t interested in rock climbing, Hueco Tanks has plenty of other activities. There’s an astounding array of rock art to see, although you may need to take a tour in order to find it. The art is hidden throughout the park and is easy to miss.
If you’re interested in a tour, make sure to book it at least a week in advance. The tours fill up fast.
You can also see a variety of animals if you go hiking. Plenty of animals make the park their home, including some threatened species. Spadefoot toads, which have been listed as near threatened in recent years, lay eggs in pools of water here, as do other amphibians.
Larger animals also make the park their home, from mule deer to mountain lions.
Bird watching is also popular in Hueco Tanks. More than 200 species of birds either pass through the park or live there year-round.
Photo: @natis1974 via Twenty20
Access to the park is restricted. If you want to explore the park on your own, you’ll need a permit. The park only issues 70 permits per day, so you’ll want to reserve yours as early as possible. You can reserve up to 90 days in advance.
You will also be required to watch an orientation video before you can explore the park on your own. So make sure to include some time for it.
Hueco Tanks Park allows camping at certain sites. Only 20 campsites are available, all with running water. Because a fire’s ash can damage the rock art, having a campfire is not allowed.
So next time you’re looking for something to do that’s unique to Texas, try going to Hueco Tanks. You may not be climbing boulders without gear, but you’ll still have a great time.