Planning a Trip
By Plane -- More than 125 commercial flights arrive and depart daily from El Paso International Airport, located a mile north of I-10 via Airway Boulevard on the city's east side (tel. 915/780-4749; www.elpasointernationalairport.com). American, US Airways, Delta, Continental, United, Southwest, Frontier, and New Mexico Airlines all serve El Paso.
The major car-rental agencies are represented here. El Paso/Juárez Shuttle Service (tel. 915/740-4400) offers shuttle service to and from the airport (a 15-min. trip each way); a one-way trip downtown costs about $25.
By Car -- The main artery to the east and west is I-10, bisecting El Paso between downtown and the Franklin Mountains.
From Carlsbad Caverns (160 miles from El Paso) and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks to the east (about 130 miles), visitors arrive via U.S. 62/180 (Montana Ave.), which eventually skirts the north side of downtown El Paso. For those arriving from Alamogordo, New Mexico (80 miles to the north), U.S. 54 (also known as the Patriot Fwy.) runs through El Paso's east side to the Bridge of the Americas, which crosses the Rio Grande and connects El Paso with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
By Bus -- Interstate and intrastate bus service is provided by Greyhound, 200 W. San Antonio Dr. (tel. 915/532-2365; www.greyhound.com).
By Train -- Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) offers westward rail service on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and eastward rail service on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Trains go east to Chicago (via San Antonio) and west to Los Angeles; other major cities on the routes include Houston and Tucson. The depot is located downtown at 700 San Francisco St.
Two natural features -- the Rio Grande and the Franklin Mountains -- have guided the urban development of El Paso for more than 400 years, so getting around can be a bit tricky for the newcomer. The city is essentially U-shaped, with the Franklin Mountains occupying the center and the downtown area at the bottom.
While El Paso has a public bus system, cars are the norm. Parking is rarely an issue, even downtown.
By Car -- There are numerous car-rental agencies in El Paso, clustered primarily around the airport in the east, and North Mesa Street on the city's west side, including Avis (tel. 915/779-2700; www.avis.com); Enterprise (tel. 915/779-2260; www.enterprise.com); Hertz (tel. 915/772-4255; www.hertz.com); and Dollar (tel. 915/778-5445; www.dollar.com). The American Automobile Association (AAA) maintains an office in El Paso at 655 Sunland Park Dr. (tel. 800/765-0766 or 915/778-9521; www.aaa.com), open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.
Street parking is free almost everywhere in El Paso except downtown, where the meters must be fed 25¢ per half-hour. The covered garages downtown charge $3 to $10 per day. There are also many outdoor lots that are geared toward people going on day trips to Ciudad Juárez. These usually run $2 to $6 per day.
By Bus -- El Paso's bus system, Sun Metro (tel. 915/533-3333; www.elpasotexas.gov/sunmetro), operates one of the world's largest fleets of natural gas-powered buses. The main transfer station is downtown on Franklin Street between Mesa and Santa Fe streets. There are also trolleys that run between the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) campus and downtown. Buses run from about 5am to 9pm on weekdays, with shorter hours on weekends and holidays; the fare is $1.25 for adults; 75¢ for children, students, and those with disabilities; and 30¢ for seniors.
By Taxi -- Both Yellow Cab (tel. 915/533-3433) and Sun City Cab (tel. 915/544-2211) offer 24-hour service in El Paso and the surrounding area.
By Foot -- Downtown El Paso is well suited for a walking tour, and it is popular to park downtown and walk across the Santa Fe Bridge into Ciudad Juárez. Note: Be sure to carry your passport with you if you cross the border. While photo ID has been traditionally sufficient for reentry into the United States, all land crossings into Mexico now require a passport upon your return into the United States.
The El Paso Convention & Visitors Bureau is located at One Civic Center Plaza, next to the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center (tel. 800/351-6024 or 915/534-0601; www.visitelpaso.com), and also operates information centers at the airport and Fort Bliss. El Paso: The Official Visitor's Guide is a good publication to request before your trip.
There is also a Texas Travel Information Center, with an excellent selection of brochures, maps, and other visitor resources located 20 miles northwest of El Paso in Anthony (I-10, exit 0), at the Texas-New Mexico border.
For information on Ciudad Juárez, contact OCV Ciudad Juárez, Av. de las Americas #2551, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico (tel. 888/654-0394; www.visitajuarez.com).