The sun is starting to set at Hueco Tanks State Park, located on the eastern edge of El Paso County. And in one of the parking lots, the adventurous are starting to gather.
"I've been out here years ago doing rappelling but haven't been out here for the hikes,” said Richard Philpot.
Hueco Tanks is known for its stunning rock formations. But tonight these visitors will get a new perspective on this park. Tonight's hike is a moonlight hike.
“I love Hueco Tanks,” said Cheyenne Garcia of El Paso. “It’s one of my favorite parks to visit and the opportunity to see it at night in a full moon is too good to pass up.”
Park Ranger Kendra Moore says the monthly full-moon hikes at Hueco Tanks are meant to shine a light on darkness.
“Drive through El Paso and really think about how much light you see and when you look up," said Moore. "Can you see the stars? And I think that’s what really motivates me to really do these things.”
The visitors are divided into four groups of varying difficulty.
“What I want my visitors to come away with is the importance of the night sky,” said Moore. “It is about getting people outside but it’s also about getting people educated, wanting to protect this and save this.”
As the sun sinks into the horizon, the full moon shines down on the walking paths that cut through the granite mountains shoot skyward from the desert floor.
The guided hikes take about two hours, and volunteers use flashlights to point out the unique features of this special place.
“These actually are mezzo-American gods,” said Steve Marek, a volunteer who guides visitors through the darkness. “We’re going to work our way to the best pictograph in the park.”
We stop to see some of the spectacular rock paintings that are scattered all over this park. Remnants of the indigenous tribes that lived here centuries ago.
“If you look deep in the cave back there, I think it kinda looks like a Pac-Man ghost,” said Marek.
As the moon climbs higher into the sky, we begin the trek back to the parking lot. In the end, visitors are left with a renewed appreciation for the dark, and for this place.
“We’re really lucky to have this amazing of a park this close to the city and most El Pasoans don’t even know about it,” said Marek.
For more information on the full-moon hikes, click here.