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El Paso County Parks and Recreation
6900 Delta Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79905
Phone (915) 772-5605
rechavez@epcounty.com

Parks & Recreation

  • Rio Grande Riverpark Trail System
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  • The Rio Grande Riverpark and Trail System is planned to meander along the banks of the Rio Grande, providing El Pasoans with trails that offer huge vistas of blue sky and golden desert sands, of wildlife and vegetation, of historical sites, fitness and recreational opportunities.
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  • The trail begins at the New Mexico state line near Vinton and extends southward for 32 miles to Tornillo, near the Hudspeth County line. Upon completion the trail will touch on the communities of Anthony, Vinton and Canutillo, in the Upper Valley, on the historical central El Paso area and the Valley of the Missions, which features the three oldest missions in the state of Texas.
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  • The $30 million project is a joint effort between the City of El Paso and the County of El Paso, with most of its funding coming through grants from the National Park Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. Designed to be built in five phases, the Riverpark Trail is now a work in progress. The first two phases have been finished, built by the County. The third and fourth phases are on the drawing board and expected to be finished by 2007. These, too, are to be built by the County.
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  • The fifth phase, which is the most difficult because it borders the Central area, will take longer to develop. Construction of this phase of the Riverpark Trail System will be the City's responsibility. Once all five phases are finished, the trail will be available for marathon runs, international bicycle races, or just to walk, run and spend a day with the family. There will be rest areas and benches to enjoy the environment and the many historical sites that dot the river's edge.
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  • The Five Phases of the Riverpark Trail System
  • From the Paseo de los Heroes Park the trail system continues, bordering the Franklin Canal. The project calls for placing a portion of the canal underground, with parks and trails aboveground and along the Canal.
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  • A few miles east of the Downtown area is the Chamizal National Memorial, a unit of the National Park Service, which commemorates the signing of the Chamizal Treaty. In the late 1800's, the Rio Grande, or the Rio Bravo as it is known in Mexico, changed its course, leaving a portion of Mexican land on the U.S. side and creating a 100-year boundary
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  • Northwestern Portion
  • The Northwest portion, which includes the first two phases of the trail, has been finished and is already in use. This portion begins near Anthony, Texas, and proceeds southward to Sunland Park, New Mexico. Links are established to the communities of Anthony and Vinton and the Artcraft bicycle route. Parks adjoining the Rivertrail provide for a variety of activities, including sports and community events at Gallegos Park in El Paso County and Valley Creek Park in Northwest El Paso. Keystone Heritage Park contains a rare desert wetland and a significant archeological site. Plans are underway to link Sunland Park, New Mexico, to the Riverpark Trail System.
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  • Central Portion
  • The Central portion of the Rio Grande Trail System has been pegged as the fifth phase, and will probably be the last to be built because it covers both some of the most rugged terrain in the County and the Downtown area, which is the most densely populated.
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  • This phase begins near today's Sunland Park and ends at Ascarate Park. Here, the river carved a canyon, geologically and historically referred to as El Paso Canyon. Important historical sites are located within this part of the trail, including the route of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and the Butterfield Overland Stage, Mount Cristo Rey, the first International Boundary Monument, which divides the United States and Mexico in Madero Park, Smeltertown, Hart's Mill and the old Fort Bliss at Hart's Mill. Down the river through Downtown El Paso are Chihuahuita and Segundo Barrio, two of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and a major entry point for people and goods from Mexico into the Southwest.
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  • It was through this port-of-entry that thousands of immigrants entered the United States from 1910 through 1930 escaping the Mexican revolution.
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  • Southeastern Portion
  • The Southeastern portion of the Rio Grande Trail System - the project's third and fourth construction phases - features a variety of sites and attractions located within the City and County of El Paso.
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  • Linkages found in this section include Ascarate and J.P. Shawver Parks, both of which will serve as trailheads for the Rio Grande Trail System. At the city limits is the Rio Bosque Wetlands, which consists of trails and restored habitats, riverside forests and native ecosystems historically found in the river valley.
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  • Adjacent to the Rio Grande is the Mission Trail. The trail follows Socorro Road for nine miles, from the Ysleta Mission through Socorro to San Elizario. Along the trail are two of the oldest missions in the United States: Ysleta Mission (Corpus Christi de los Tiguas de Ysleta) and Socorro Mission (Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Piros) both founded in 1682. San Elizario Presidio Chapel (La Capilla de San Elceario) was founded in 1789 to serve the Spanish soldiers and their families. It was at the banks of the Rio Grande in San Elizario that Juan de Oñate celebrated the First Thanksgiving on April 30, 1598. San Elizario also served as El Paso's first County seat in 1850. Traditionally, the Tigua Indians of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo have maintained a peaceful existence in the Paso del Norte region. An important component of the Tigua spiritual life is the Rio Grande; it is considered to be a provider of life and central to many of the Tribe's religious ceremonies and traditional life ways. Near the terminus of the trail, at Tornillo, is a bird and wildlife viewing area.