Stopover: El Paso Texas
Situated on the border of two nations and three states, El Paso lies in the Chihuahuan Desert 3,762 feet above sea level. Rising above the rest of Texas, El Paso's Franklin Mountains run through the city, dividing it into the east and west sides. The Rio Grand flows along EL Paso's southern boundary separating Texas from Mexico and creating a lush green valley ripe for farming and ranching. El Paso's varied topography presents a scenic landscape and provides a pleasing contrast between arid desert, green valley and rugged mountains.
It's rare to have a day when the sun doesn't shine. In fact it shines over 300 days a year. Winters are usually mild with an average daytime temperature of 60 degrees and an average low of 35 degrees. Occasionally the temperature will drop with enough moisture in the air to produce snow, but it never lasts long.
While the city itself counted over 600,000 inhabitants during the 2.000 census, with inclusion of El Paso county residents, that number is raised to over 700,000. With its proximity to Juarez, Mexico El Paso's sister city, it's difficult to talk about the population of one city without considering that of the other. Just across the border and within walking distance of each other's downtown areas Juarez is home to over 1,800,000 people. This makes for a combined population of over 2 million, creating the largest metropolitan area on the border between the United States and Mexico.
One very attractive feature is that there is no state, city or county income tax. The sales tax rate is 8.25%. Compared to other cities in the United States, El Pasoans enjoy a relatively low cost of living.
El Paso, Texas today is a much larger city than the one I went through in 1979 on my way from Salem, Oregon to Corpus Christi, Texas. El Paso now ranks as the sixth largest city in Texas.
We stopped over in El Paso because we took a wrong turn on the highway between Roswell, New Mexico and San Angelo, Texas and found a much different El Paso than we expected, much to my delight.
Source: El Paso Visitors Guide, Summer, 2009