El Paso is the main crossing on the Rio Grande.
Back in the day El Paso was the second oldest settlement in the United States, and today it still serves for trade exchanges on the Rio Grande. This business shaped it towards a place dominated by noisy railroads and the giant Fort Bliss military base, but its dramatic setting puts it at the top of any travel list.
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El Paso lies on the interstate location between Texas, New Mexico, and Chihuahua and is set against the backdrop of the Franklin Mountains cascading into the Chihuahuan Desert. Such sharp geographic tapestry makes El Paso more like New Mexico and distinct from softness of the Southwest United States.
New Mexico is best seen from July to September when winds carry moisture from the Pacific, the Gulf of Carolina, and the Gulf of Mexico into the region causing heavy rain. Generally, El Paso has a warm climate with very hot summers and dry winters thanks to mountain ranges.
As the mountains slope into a vast canyon, the Spanish who came to the area in the 16th century regarded it as an ideal route from south to north and established there a city. It soon became known as the "Camino Real" and served for trade route for 300 years. The 17th century brought Catholic missionaries, and the Mexicans took over the area in 1821. After the Mexican-American War this land was ceded to the United States. The railroad arrived in 1881 and El Paso became packed with casinos, restaurants and other attractions.
- El Paso Zoo, a home to more than 600 animals of over 250 species
- El Paso Museum of Art exhibits a collection dedicated to art of the Southwest
- Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, occupies more than 860 acres of the land named for the large rock basins or "huecos''
- Speaking Rock Casino & Entertainment Centre, large gaming and entertainment complex
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