Downtown El Paso’s character is shaped by the US–Mexico border. In times past, outlaws and exiles from either side of the border would take refuge across the river, and today’s traffic remains considerable and not entirely uncontroversial. Manual labourers come north to find undocumented jobs, and US companies secretly dump their toxic waste on the south side. Drugs are a major issue, too. The border itself, the Rio Grande, has caused its share of disagreements: the river changed course quite often in the 1800s, and it was not until the 1960s, when it was run through a concrete channel, that it was made permanent.

An attractive 55-acre park, the Chamizal National Memorial, on the east side of downtown off Paisano Drive, was built to commemorate the settling of the border dispute; it has a small museum (Tues–Sat 10am–5pm; free). Elsewhere, the small but engrossing Border Patrol Museum, 4315 Transmountain Drive (Tues–Sat 9am–5pm; free), explains the work of the patrollers and highlights the ingenuity of smugglers.

Crossing into Mexico

On the Rio Grande, the Cordova Bridge – or Bridge of the Americas – heads across into Mexico, where there’s a larger park and a number of museums; there are no formalities, so long as you have a multiple-entry visa for the USA and don’t travel more than twenty or so miles south of the border. Crossing here is free; at the three other bridges – two downtown and one near the Ysleta Mission – you have to pay a 35¢ fee.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Podcast: the Black Masking Indians of New Orleans

Podcast: the Black Masking Indians of New Orleans

In 18th-century Louisiana, escapee African slaves would make a break for the bayous. Here they might encounter Native Americans and occasionally find asylum wit…

10 Sep 2018 • Rough Guides Editors volume_up Podcast
The best day-trips from San Francisco

The best day-trips from San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge, rows of colourful Victorian houses, trams chuntering up steep hills: San Francisco is a city full of iconic sights. But it's worth teari…

15 Aug 2018 • Rebecca Hallett insert_drive_file Article
Stargazing in Utah: a postcard from Antelope Island

Stargazing in Utah: a postcard from Antelope Island

Following the USA’s total solar eclipse in 2017, 'astrotourism' is big news. And the growing global light pollution problem means so-called 'dark sky parks' a…

03 Aug 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs