Sometimes the places we discover off the beaten path can become some of our most memorable outings. Just 15 minutes outside of El Paso, the Mission Trail is a 9-mile journey that takes you to three of the oldest missions in the United States: Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario. All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, yet each has its own story to tell, whether its through dance, art, or freshly baked bread.
Check for special events and celebrations — like the monthly First Friday ArtWalk and the Billy the Kid Festival in June — held at the San Elizario Arts District year-round.
Take A Trip Through History
If there's one thing the Mission Trail is known for, it's the past. Visit any or all of the three missions and discover more than 400 years of history inside the adobe walls.
La Misión de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur, or Ysleta Mission, was founded after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when Spanish settlers were forced back to El Paso by the Pueblo Indians of northern New Mexico. Hundreds of Tigua and Piro Indians resettled in the El Paso area with the Spanish and erected the church in their new home.
Socorro Mission, also constructed by Native Americans and Spaniards after the revolt, is a treasure for architecture buffs. The stair-stepped design on the front facade and the viga-beam ceilings inside illustrate a blend of Native American and Spanish influence.
Originally built in 1684, the Presidio Chapel of San Elizario was once a military fort for Spanish soldiers and their families. The striking white adobe structure stands as a focal point in the historic San Elizario Plaza.
The art scene here is just as alive and present as the area's history. If you're interested in exploring some native art during your outing, San Elizario is the stop for you.
At San Elizario Pena Gallery & Studio you'll find paintings by Amado Pena alongside works by other artists that also illustrate Native American history and culture, while Golden Eagle Gallery showcases local artists and their talents. Gaze at the impressionist paintings by award-winning artist Alberto Escamilla at Escamilla Fine Art Gallery & Studio.
For those who prefer art alfresco, the Mission Trail Art Market is an impressive outdoor arts and crafts sale held in the town's historic district on select Sundays from March to November. Items range from pottery and paintings to jewelry and seasonal décor.
Attend A Pueblo Dance
At the Tigua Indian Cultural Center, visitors get to experience the history and culture of the Tigua people through one of the tribe's oldest customs: dance. On Saturdays and Sundays, crowds gather to watch tribal youth perform social dances to traditional Tigua songs in the plaza. Call ahead for exact times.
Visit A Museum
Located in the historic district of San Elizario, the Veteran's Memorial Museum is a testament to the chapel's history as a military fort and the town's soldiers and veterans.
You can also discover more about San Elizario's past — or your own — at the Los Portales Museum and Information Center. Their exhibitions cover topics from the "First Thanksgiving" held here in 1598 to Billy the Kid's jail break-in.
WHEN YOU GO
Getting There: From El Paso, take the Cesar E. Chavez Border Highway to Socorro Road.
Escamilla Fine Art Gallery & Studio
1500 Main St., San Elizario
Golden Eagle Gallery
1501 Main St., San Elizario
Los Portales Museum and Information Center
1521 San Elizario Rd, San Elizario
Mission Trail Art Market
1500 Main St., San Elizario
Presidio Chapel of San Elizario
1556 San Elizario Rd, San Elizario
San Elizario Pena Gallery & Studio
1456 Main St., San Elizario
328 S. Nevarez Rd., Socorro
Tigua Indian Cultural Center
305 Yaya Lane, El Paso
Veteran's Memorial Museum
1500-B Main St., San Elizario
131 S. Zaragoza Rd., El Paso
Rob Mack Studio & Gallery
Bert Saldana Fine Art