Texas is one of the most naturally diverse states in the US, and with 800 different habitat types and thousands of species of flora and fauna, it's no wonder why. This vast geographical diversity makes Texas a magnet for nature lovers worldwide.
The Big Bend region, in particular, is known for its beautiful mountains, rivers, and deserts, all of which make for more than ideal habitats for the cold-blooded reptiles that reside there. So, if you're in the El Paso area of Big Bend region, and are looking for the best places to find reptile species, come along on this journey to learn about four ideal spots.
Local Reptile Species
Before looking at the four best places for finding and viewing reptiles, it's important to talk about the reptile species native to El Paso. In total, 36 recorded species of reptiles inhabit the region, most coming from the diverse Chihuahuan desert mountain range that makes up the surrounding area.
In the desert and mountains that make up El Paso, you can find a variety of lizards and snakes, including…
- The Eastern Collard Lizard, Greater Earless Lizard, and Texas Banded Gecko
- The Great Plains Skink, Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail, and Marbled Whiptail
- The Western Hook-nosed Snake, Grey-banded Kingsnake, and Chihuahuan Desert Lyre Snake
- The Western Diamond-back Rattlesnake, Ring-neck Snake, Western Blind Snake, and Black-necked Garter Snake
While this list only makes up a fraction of the different species to expect roaming in the area, it shows the array of sometimes colorful, sometimes venomous, yet all too fascinating species that call El Paso home.
Franklin Mountains State Park
Franklin Mountains State Park is noted as being the largest urban wilderness park in the continental US. With over 26,000 acres of land, the state park lays entirely within city limits and covers a large portion of the Chihuahuan Desert Ecoregion.
This park offers many ways to escape city life and get in touch with nature, from hiking and mountain biking to camping and rock climbing. Wildlife consultants recommend keeping an eye out for all the reptile species who call this region's warm, barren lowlands and cooler, moist canyons home – especially the Eastern Collard Lizard!
In the rocky canyons, grasslands, and desert regions of the Franklin Mountains, you can run into a couple of lizard and snake species, including…
- Ornate Tree Lizard, Texas Banded Gecko, and Common Checkered Whiptail
- The Ring-necked Snake, Chihuahuan Nightsnake, Southwestern Blackhead Snake, and Eastern Patch-nosed Snake
- Big Bend Patchnose Snake and a few venomous rattlesnake species like the Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnake (so be careful!)
As you see, there are many different reptile species to spot while on your journey throughout the Franklin Mountains State Park. So, check it out when you can!
Other Local Parks and Walking Trails
Outside of the Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso has a couple of popular walking trails and local parks where you can find reptiles crawling or slithering around: Thousand Steps Trail, Lost Dog Trail Head, El Paso Tin Mines Trail, Palisades Canyon Loop, and more. Depending on the area you’re in or the trail you’re on, you can run into species including…
- Lizards such as the Brown Anole, Green Anole, Slender Glass Lizards, whiptails, geckos, and Long-nosed Leopard Lizards.
- Snake species such as Garters, Rattlesnakes, and Ratsnakes.
- Turtle species, like Sliders, Softshells, Box turtles, and Cooters.
- Some species may be harder to find than others, so a keen eye is key when looking for them!
Many of these species are found in El Paso’s trails due to the proximity of them being to the Franklin Mountains, so it’s highly likely that you’ll find them there as well. Regardless, no matter where you are in El Paso, you’re bound to run into a lizard, turtle, or snake somewhere.
El Paso Zoo
The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Garden, a 35-acre plot of land filled with over 220 native, exotic, and endangered species from Africa, America, Asia, and the Chihuahuan Desert, has excellent reviews online and is home to mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and plants of all shapes and sizes.
You can find a couple of Texas native reptiles in the Ranch and Reptile House. Some of these species include:
- The Great Plains Skink
- Black-tailed Rattlesnake
- Eastern Collared Lizard
- Eastern Kingsnake Outside of these native species, there are many other non-native reptile species to look at and learn about.
El Paso Itself
The last place to look at reptiles in El Paso is the city itself! After all, El Paso is just one big desert mountain region. No matter how much humans develop and expand there, the reptile species located there will still be around. This is especially true for the smaller, less-profile reptiles on this list, who are more likely to navigate themselves out of eyesight. So, a simple trip outside may reveal different lizard and snake species, as well as turtles. However, they’re a bit rarer to find.
El Paso’s natural beauty and warm climate attract nature lovers and reptiles alike, and it's no wonder why. Individuals who wish to go out into nature and explore areas where reptiles reside find this region the perfect place, with plenty of spots to do so.
- Franklin Mountains State Park is the best place to go when looking for reptiles. This space containing 26,000 acres of desert and mountains is a reptile's favorite place to be. It provides them with a wide enough space to escape daily human interference.
- Besides the park, there are plenty of trails and local parks adjacent to the state park where reptiles can be viewed in their natural habitats.
- For individuals dying to look at reptiles who're both native and exotic to the Texas region, the El Paso Zoo is the best place to go. Not only will you be able to learn about some species that are native to the area, but you'll also be able to learn about reptile species from Africa and Asia as well.
- Lastly, the city of El Paso itself is brimming with reptiles as it makes for the perfect habitat for them. Even though human development and civilization has spread considerably, small lizards, snakes, and turtles still find a way to crawl and slither around mostly unnoticed.