Escaping to Rio Bosque Wetlands Park

A great place for a nature escape. Leave your troubles behind and walk the Rio Grande.


The Mission Trail brochure we picked up at the Visitor’s Center in downtown El Paso included information about the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park. This 372 acre park is near the El Paso city limits and adjacent to the Mission Trail. Reading that it consisted of trails and restored habitats, riverside woods and native ecosystems, we decided this was exactly the nature escape we needed. We checked out their website regarding times open, specific trails and directions. We were excited to go. The next day, Sunday November 6th, we packed the dogs in the car and headed out.

Getting There

Map to Rio Bosque Park

The Rio Bosque Wetland Park is located south of Loop 375, off Pan American Drive in El Paso, Texas. We recommend following the advice on the website and use the directions provided online. We navigated there using Google Maps, however, it was not the best route. Here is the link to their website: Rio Bosque Wetland Park

Be prepared to drive on a gravel road for the last mile or so.

The Trails

The Visitor Center is a short walk from the parking lot. We picked up brochures for each of the 3 trails, decided on the 1.5 mile Wetland Loop Trail and started our much needed nature trail walk.

A group of hikers heading back in passed us as we headed out. They were the only people we saw on the trails that day. And because of that, we let the dogs go off leash for the majority of the walk. They had not been allowed off leash since we had left home on October 16th. This was a treat for all of us.

The trails have posts with numbers that correspond to an item of interest on the trail map. We followed the trail as much as possible, however, when we saw something interesting in another direction, we took a detour on one of the other trails. Luckily, we had picked up maps for all three trails and we were able to navigate back to the Wetland Loop trail each time.

Plant Life

We saw many of the plants and trees listed in the brochures we picked up at the Visitor’s Center and have tried to identify them as much as possible in our pictures.

We saw quite a few of the Tornillo trees with their distinctive screwbean seed pods.

Tornillo_Screwbean Mesquite.jpg
Tornillo or Screwbeen Mesquite

Willow Baccharis were plentiful and beautiful.

Willow Baccharis full
Willow Baccharis in the fall
Willow Baccharis
Willow Baccharis leaves and flower heads

Close up of the seepwillow that was abundant throughout the trail.


Along the Trail

As we walked along the trail, we saw this windmill in the distance.2F7A4890

This interesting sign was on the way to the wetlands. It appeared to have been there a long time. Behind it you can see the windmill we saw along the trail. 2F7A4884

The trail narrowed as we arrived at the wetlands. We saw a snake on the side of the trail, however, it slithered down towards the water as we walked closer. We were not fast enough to get a picture.


In the background of this picture you can see the Mexican border fence. The Rio Loop Trail, blazed with a yellow dragonfly, is along the other side of the wetlands.2F7A4891

Cattails are very abundant here. We saw many with and without tail inflorescences.2F7A4895

A couple more pictures from the wetlands.2F7A4897


A last picture of the wetlands as we were on our way back to the main trail.2F7A4902

More Sites Along the Trail

We continued along the trail past markers 8 and 9. These areas are a mix of new and mature tornillo trees. We soon came to a water channel, at marker 10.

This is a picture of the metal wheels that control the water flow for the channel.2F7A4941

At this point, we saw another windmill in the distance, as well as the vibrant yellow leaves of the Rio Grande Cottonwoods. Fall colors! We turned off the orange duck trail and followed the yellow dragon fly trail towards the windmill for a closer look.

Max and Sadie walking past a beautiful Rio Grande Cottonwood

This is a working windmill and we watched the pump pole go up and down as the wind wheel turned.2F7A4930

20171105_worn out Sadie

Sadie taking a quick rest as Andy took pictures.2F7A4914




Max is still resting, but Sadie is ready to go! By the time we got back to the car, Max’s paws were white again.

After taking some pictures and looking around the windmill, we turned and walked back to the orange trail.

The rest of the trail followed a water channel. According to the trail guide, the channel is an old bend of the Rio Grande that was cuff off when the river was straightened to its current location in the 1930’s. It was a very scenic part of the trail and we took our time as we headed back towards trailhead at the Visitor’s Center.2F7A4942


2F7A4951When we got to the parking lot, the dogs were ready to get in the car and rest. They were exhausted and happy. We were refreshed and talked about taking the longer Rio Loop trail next time.

2 comments on “Escaping to Rio Bosque Wetlands Park”

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