The salt flats, a shining white expanse of salt-covered earth, stands out from its desert surroundings, surprising visitors heading east from El Paso to the peaks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. But the beauty of this West Texas landscape doesn't reflect its contentious past.
Beginning in the mid-1600s, the salt flat served as a vital resource for Tigua Indian and Hispanic communities throughout the San Elizario area, who traveled for days across the Trans-Pecos region to harvest the valuable essential mineral. Disputes over rights and ownership began in the 1860s and came to a head in 1877 when Charles Howard claimed ownership of the salt bed and began charging a fee. The move angered Mexican and Mexican American citizens who considered the resource public property under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
The ensuing Salt War involved the murders of U.S. and Mexican politicians and military and law enforcement. Ultimately, a dozen lives were lost and at least 20 were wounded. Witness the breathtaking salt flats that stirred up such controversy, and learn more about the history at the Pine Springs Visitor Center in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Salt Basin - Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Adults: $5, valid for seven days.
Pine Springs Visitor Center at Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Daily 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.