Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta at Tom Mays Park

10689963_813456812039787_8334642587653416966_n14th Annual Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta

Saturday, September 29, 9am to 3pm – FREE park entry

Short walks into the desert to learn about its geology, plants, and wildlife and a full slate of local entertainment promises to make the 14th Annual Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta a fun day for all. This free event will be held at the end of the Loop Road in the Tom Mays Unit of Franklin Mountains State Park on Saturday, September 29, from 9am to 3pm. The Fiesta is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the help of volunteers from the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition.

The outdoor event celebrates the natural wonders of the Chihuahuan Desert and Franklin Mountains State Park. Local environmental education and conservation groups will be on hand to offer free demonstrations, guided tours, guest speakers, and informational booths designed to introduce the curious to the wonders of our fascinating desert.

This year will feature new organizations offering interactive activities for children, entertainment from local dance groups plus the return of Education Specialist Heather Rivera from the El Paso Zoo.   Heather is the Zoo’s raptor presenter and this year she plans to bring Buckbeak, a Swainson’s Hawk.

Heather Rivera from the El Paso Zoo with a Burrowing Owl

Schedule of Guided Hikes:

Morning hikes (both starting near the park entrance):
10:00:  Dr. Paul Hyder will lead a short, easy hike where he will point out and answer questions about organisms, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants. Meet at the Beginner’s Loop.

10:00Copper Mine Tour for adults and kids: Meet at Cottonwood Springs parking lot. Moderate ¼-mile walk for 30-minute mine shaft experience (bring flashlights).

Cottonwood Springs: continuation from mine tour, but this portion is for adults only; strenuous 2-hr hike up/down steep/loose slope… (water and sturdy shoes required)


Afternoon hikes:

1:30Aztec Cave Hike for kids/parents (Jr GeoVentures) …. Information / meet at GeoVentures booth …… ½-mile, 15-minute steep incline to cave and overlook.

2:00Native American uses of Medicinal Plants of the Chihuahuan Desert with Valerie Provencio. Meet at the The El Paso Mineral & Gem Society table. 

Throughout the day:  Ecology scavenger hunt by Virginia C. Bisiaux of GeoVentures El Paso. Meet at GeoVentures booth near overlook area.

CASI Chili Cookoff: You’ll be able to smell the chili from the Fiesta site, because the cookoff will be a just a short hike away. Chili will be available for purchase, so come try the competitors’ cooking.

Schedule of Events at the Entertainment Stage Area at the End of the Loop Road:

9:30:    City of El Paso Zumba
10:30:  El Paso Zoo Wildlife Presentation
11:00:  Champion Studio (Ballet Folkorico)
12:00:  Rondalla
1:00:    Danza Chichimeca De Teotechuacan

Participating Conservation Education Partners

500 Women Scientists
Audubon Society
Cactus and Rock Club
Clean Rivers Program
Chamizal National Memorial – National Park Service
Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition- Wildlife matching game
Defender of Wildlife
El Paso Parks- Trailblazers
Franklin Mountains State Park
Frontera Land Alliance
GeoVentures El Paso – Hikes, scavenger hunt
Greater Big Bend Coalition – coloring and scavenger hunt
Hueco Tanks State Park
It’s Your World
Paws n Hooves Veterinary – pet exam paws ok to hike
Rio Bosque Wetland Park
SCWR- Pine cone bird feeders
TecH2O – Water conservation Bingo
Texas Master Naturalists
The El Paso Mineral & Gem Society- rock display
UTEP Biodiversity Collections
UTEP Geology
Wyler Tramway



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