A VILLAGE AMONG THE WETLANDS
One afternoon in the late 1970s, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees were working on the construction of flood control dams in El Paso’s Upper Valley when a thunderstorm rolled through the area. The storm’s runoff eroded the bank of a nearby arroyo, revealing an odd and unusual artifact – part of an ancient dwelling. Intrigued, archeologists explored the site, carbon dating the remains, and the results indicated the dwelling and surrounding site, part of a much larger village, were over 4,000 years old. Together with a nearby wetlands, considered the last remaining natural wetlands in El Paso County, the Keystone archeological site received protection as the Keystone Heritage Park. This 52-acre site encompasses the wetlands, a biological preserve, and the archaic archaeology site, one of the oldest dated archaic sites in the Western United States, where investigation has revealed buried presence of the remains of thatched huts, post holes, and fire pits.
Preferring preservation over excavation, the Keystone Heritage Park offers an interpretive experience, providing walking paths for views of the wetlands where a substantial number of bird species can be sighted, as well as a guided tour of the archeological site. In addition, the park hosts the El Paso Desert Botanical Gardens, an artful landscape of native plants and architecture encompassing a healing garden composed of species with medicinal attributes, a culinary garden, cactus and succulent garden, and a butterfly garden.
Keystone Heritage Park
$1 for children, Members: Free, $2 donation for non-members