One of the most challenging aspects of the military spouse life is preparing for an upcoming PCS or if you get the chance, potentially picking a new duty station. There is a lot of information out there, and it can be almost overwhelming.
We here at Army Wife Network want to take the some of the guesswork out of the need-to-knows about duty stations around the globe. Hence, our Post With the Most series. In this particular blog, we will be showcasing information related to Fort Bliss, Texas.
Located at the foot of Franklin Mountains lies Fort Bliss, Texas, the hub of the US Army 1st Armored Division. It is the home of training future Sergeant Majors, as well as the home of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, 5th Armored Bridge, and 93rd Military Police Battalion. The area always seems to be growing and changing, so there may be many more things you find when arriving at Fort Bliss and surrounding El Paso Area. Enjoy the breathtaking views of mountain ranges, the near year-round sunshine and the many things to do offered in the area.
Fort Bliss is home to the following units:
- 1st Armored Division
- 32nd AAMDS
- 93rd MP Battalion
Closest MAJOR Cities:
Names of Area Colleges:
Weather: Summer (May-September) is hot. Winter (Dec–Jan) is mild. Feb and March are known for their high winds of 60 MPH or higher, which can sometimes result in dust storms and flaring of allergies. Temperatures are warm year-round, with typically low humidity. El Paso is one of the top ten sunniest cities in the world with an average of 300 sunny days per year. There is a potential “monsoon season” from July-September, but usually occurs in August. Average rainfall per year is just under 10 inches annually. Be prepared to wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen when you venture out into this sunny climate!
Time Zone: Mountain Time Zone
SPECIFIC POST INFORMATION
To access the post website, click here.
On-post Housing is managed by Balfour Beatty Communities.
Major realty/rental companies in the area:
School Districts: Fort Bliss, El Paso, and the surrounding area is geographically large, so the complete list of schools is beyond the post of this blog. Typically, you will be assigned a school in close proximity to your home unless you choose to file for an exception.
- El Paso Independent School District
- Ysleta Independent School District
- Socorro Independent School District
- Elementary: Milam Elementary School (Kindergarten-Grade 5), Bliss Elementary School (Kindergarten-Grade 5), and Logan Elementary School (Kindergarten-Grade 5).
- Elementary: Cielo Vista Elementary School (Kindergarten-Grade 5), Scotsdale Elementary School (Kindergarten-Grade 5), and Park Elementary School (Kindergarten-Grade 5)
- Middle: Ross Middle School (Grades 6-8) and Bassett Middle School (Grades 6-8)
- High School: Chapin High School (Grades 9-12) and Burges High School (Grades 9-12)
- Private/Charter: Harmony Science Academy (Kindergarten-Grade 12), St. Joseph’s School (Kindergarten-Grade 8), and Northeast Christian Academy (Kindergarten-Grade 12)
- Child and Youth Services
- Army Community Service
- PX (Freedom Crossing)
- Mickelsen Community Library
- William Beaumont Army Medical Center
- Fort Bliss Spouses’ Association
- Chaplain & Religious Services/Organizations
The MWR team at Fort Bliss is impressive. They host events every weekend and even throughout the week, including swimming, art classes, day trips, fitness events, celebrations, and festivals. —Sharita K.
- Hospitals: El Paso Children’s Hospital, Hospitals of Providence, and Los Palmas Del Sol Medical Center, all located in El Paso.
- Urgent Care: Care Spot and Sun City Emergency Room West, both located in El Paso.
- Dentists: Bliss Family Dentistry and EP Dentistry 4 Kids, both located in El Paso.
Best place for beauty services:
- Eric Anthony Hair Design Studio
- Olivia B Salon
- Tousled Salon (West Side)
- Trucco Beauty Institute
- Selah Salon & Spa
El Paso is a rare gem for restaurants. There are plenty of national franchise restaurants, excellent Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurants, and great tea and coffee shops along with budding craft/micro/local breweries. Most notably there are lots of unique hole-in-the-wall restaurants (new ones opening almost every month). For food adventurers, El Paso is a playground of experiences. All of the following restaurants are located in El Paso, Texas, unless otherwise noted.
Unique El Paso Spots:
- Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch: A Large, family-style restaurant on a working ranch. Enjoy a Western atmosphere, miles of desert scenery, and spectacular sunsets!
- Zino’s Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine
- One Grub Community: A vegan restaurant that uses produce from a community garden on the same premises.
- Mustard Seed Café: Everybody eats at this community cafe. Feeding hungry people and caring for every heart that comes through their door. You can find volunteer opportunities here.
- Eloise: A vegan-friendly local cafe.
- Ripe Eatery: Located on the Westside. They have fresh and delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
- Crave Kitchen and Bar: Excellent burgers, breakfasts, and brunches.
- Independent Burger
- Toro Burger
- Desert Oak BBQ: A veteran-owned business with the best brisket in town.
- Inni-Heart La Tierra Cafe: A cute soup and sandwich spot with art for sale.
- Avocado Cafe: This secret gem sandwich spot has lots of delicious avocado.
- West Texas Chophouse
- Salt & Honey Café: Unique breakfast and brunch menu items with an extensive espresso menu.
- Kaedama: Authentic ramen and potstickers
- Noodles & Dumplings: Authentic hand-pulled Chinese noodles.
- The Green Ingredient: A vegan restaurant
- Café Korea: Excellent Korean food, even in the desert!
- L&J Cafe: A uniquely flavorful link between El Paso’s past and present with great Mexican food. This place has been here since 1927.
- Café Mayapan: Authentic Southern Mexican food in a Fair-Trade Women’s Collective Community Space.
- The Lunch Box: Cafeteria-style quick Mexican food.
- Los Bandidos De Carlos & Mickey’s: They have the biggest margaritas in El Paso.
- Andale: Live Mariachi bands perform here often.
- Kiki’s Restaurant & Bar: Try their machaca—it was featured on The Food Network.
- Taco Tote: Classic, quick tacos with lots of fun sauces and fixings to try.
- Rafas Burritos: Trivia note—Juarez claims to have invented the burrito. Try the Rafas Burritos in honor of this claim.
- Gussie’s Tamales and Bakery: Traditional tamales and some tasty Mexican-style pastries.
- Angry Owl Southwest Grill & Cantina: They claim to have the best burgers in town.
- Café Central: A Downtown classic.
- Anson 11: On the corner of beautiful San Jacinto Plaza Downtown.
- Dragonfly Wine & Sushi Bistro: The best sushi in El Paso.
- Tabla: A Tapas bar with live music.
- Pot Au Feu: French and European cuisine with live music on some weekends.
- Ardovino’s Desert Crossing: This is a beautiful location right across the border into New Mexico.
- Mesa Street Grill: They have great steak.
Coffee, Tea, and Dessert:
- 2Ten Coffee: A local roaster with an excellent brew of coffee.
- Hillside Donuts: Unique donut and coffee menu. Go early, before the pastries are gone! It’s also a great place to relax with a friend, book, or study materials.
- Small Cakes: Featured on Cupcake Wars
- Savage Goods: A vegan cafe.
- Joe, Vinny, and Bronson’s Bohemian Café: A neat, chill hole-in-the-wall spot
- The Tea Spout: Loose-leaf tea and matcha options on the menu. Go “signature style” if you want a delicious tea latte.
- Tippi Teas: Great shakes and loose-leaf tea
- Fahrenheit 32
- District Coffee
- Bowie Bakery: Historic Mexica-style bakery
- Hana Banana: A tasty ice cream parlor.
Local Breweries (Great spots for craft beer):
- Ode Brewery
- The Hoppy Monk
- The Block Table and Tap
- El Paso Brewing Company
- Deadbeach Brewery
- Alamo Drafthouse: Also offers movie and trivia nights.
- Zin Valle Vineyards: A beautiful New Mexico winery
- Sunland Winery
- La Viña Winery: Located in New Mexico
- Amaro Winery: A chill, Las Cruces winery
- Bite of Belgium: Located in Las Cruces
With outdoor concerts, shows, movie screenings on the lawn, festivals, hiking, trivia nights, and parades, El Paso has something to do every week.
Major El Paso offerings: (Check out the El Paso Scene for to stay up-to-date on weekly events):
- Scenic Drive Overlook: Park here for some El Paso/Mexico food truck goodies and a spectacular view of El Paso and Juarez. The night view with the lights is amazing!
- El Paso Zoo: Moderately-sized zoo that is engaging for grown-ups and older kids, but still the perfect size to handle with little ones. Plan on approximately three or four hours to fully experience it.
- Downtown El Paso
- Concordia Cemetery
- El Paso Museum of Archeology
- El Paso Museum of History
- Magoffin Home State Historic Site
- Spanish Mission of Ysleta
- Border Patrol Museum
- El Paso Holocaust Museum
- El Paso Museum of Art
- San Jacinto Plaza
- Chamizal National Memorial
- Tigua Indian Cultural Center and Museum
- The Plaza Theater
- El Paso Playhouse: A great community theater and also the longest-running community theater in El Paso.
- Plaza Theater: Specializes in off-Broadway shows.
- UTEP Dinner Theater: Offers many annual shows
- The Fountains at Farah: Great shopping, entertainment, and lots of restaurants, all in one spot.
- Justin & Tony Llama Factory boot outlets
- Outlet Shoppes at El Paso
- Abraham Chavez Theater and Convention Center
- Franklin Mountain State Park Outdoors and Beyond
Hiking (use Alltrails for tips and hiking routes):
- Aztec Caves: A beautiful hike in El Paso
- North Mount Franklin Trail: An advanced hike that takes you to the highest point in El Paso, at 7,192 feet.
- Ron Coleman Trail: An amazing advanced hike with some rock scrambling and an up-close view of the “Mammoth.”
- Tom Mays Nature Trail: This beginner hike has some beautiful views.
- Tin Mines
Mountain Biking (Crazy Cat Cyclery has lots of information and advice):
Rock-climbing and bouldering:
- Sneed’s Cory in Tom Mays Park: Includes bolted top rope routes and bouldering.
- Hueco Tanks: Internationally known for its bouldering. It also has cool petroglyphs for non-climbers.
Running/Cycling/Swimming: El Paso hosts many great races and events to stay active. Almost every year there are a few color races, night races, and other events. Below are three special ones for the region. Check out Race El Paso for more races.
- Mighty Mujer Triathlon: This is an all-female race featuring two distances. Race individually or as a team.
- International 10K: Beginning in El Paso with a trail through Juarez back into El Paso, this a cool way to visit Juarez as you run the race. Please note: Unless military policy changes, active duty soldiers cannot enter into Mexico.
- El Paso Marathon, Half & 5K: Hosted every year in the early spring. The weather is usually perfect for a good run. It finishes in downtown El Paso.
- Christmas Tree-lighting at San Jacinto Park: The park is transformed into a winter wonderland complete with beautiful lights, children’s train, and an ice-skating rink.
- Fred Loya Christmas Light Show: Spectacular house lights with music.
- Pilgrimage to Mount Cristo Rey: Held on Good Friday
- Music Under the Stars: A free summer concert series on the lawn at Chamizal National Memorial.
- Cool Canyon Nights: A free summer concert series at McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater.
- Alfresco Fridays: Free summer concert series that puts the beat in the heart of Downtown El Paso.
- Dia de los Metros: Celebrations all put on throughout the city.
- La Union Corn Maze and Fall Celebration
- El Paso Locomotives: Professional Soccer Team Downtown
- El Paso Chihuahuas: Triple-A Affiliate San Diego Padres Sponsor Baseball
- El Paso Rhinos: Hockey team
- UTEP Athletics
Festivals (There are so many annual festivals and those listed below are just a taste of what Fort Bliss and surrounding area has to offer. Check out Visit El Paso Events and Festivals for more specific info.):
- WinterFest (November through January)
- El Paso Pro-Corda Chamber Music Festival (February and March)
- Franklin Mountains Poppies Fest (March)
- Sun City Craft Beer Festival (March)
- Nuevo Siglo de Oro Drama Festival (April)
- Texas Country Music Fest (April)
- El Paso Lobster Fest (April)
- Neon Desert Music Festival (May)
- Las Cruces Wine Festival (Memorial Day weekend)
- Billy the Kid Festival (June)
- El Paso Ice Cream Festival (June)
- Ysleta Mission Festival (July)
- Plaza Classic Film Festival (August)
- Way Out West Fest (October)
- Chalk the Block (October)
- La Viña Winery Harvest Festival (October)
- Dia de los Muertos Festival (Late October, early November)
Markets (Most are held year-round):
- El Paso Downtown Art & Farmers Market (Every Saturday)
- Ardovino’s Desert Crossing Farmer’s Market (Every Saturday)
- Las Cruces Farmer’s Market (Every Saturday)
- Upper Valley Artist & Farmers Market (Every Sunday)
- Kern Place Sunday Morning Market (Sunday)
- El Paso Punk Rock Flea Market (Monthly)
- Last Thursdays El Paso Art Walk and Gallery Crawl (Monthly)
Options for kids:
- Tiny Xplorer’s
- Peter Piper Pizza
- Adventure Zone
- Ally B Gator Jumping Place
- Rockin’ Jump
- El Paso Children’s Museum: Coming in 2020
- El Paso Public Libraries: They have a great story time, offer automatic book renewals every three weeks, and “limit” 40 books checked out per time.
- El Jardin Birth and Family Resource Center: Music classes are offered on Fridays.
- El Paso Parks and Splash Pads: There’s even shade!
- St. Clair Winery & Bistro
- New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum: Low admission prices and lots of agricultural history, plus live farm/ranch animals!
- Dripping Springs
- Old Mesilla
- You can find skiing here in the winter!
- Check out the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, typically in October.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS
Army Wife Network does not promote or endorse these groups; however, we know they can be helpful in learning about various duty stations, so they are provided for your convenience.
Installation Facebook page: Fort Bliss, Texas
Military Spouse Groups:
“El Paso and Fort Bliss have somehow gotten a bad reputation from military members. Whenever I hear someone complaining about being stationed here, I am truly shocked. El Paso is one of the most amazing cities I have ever lived in. The list we’ve compiled is a testimony to all of the amazing experiences we’ve had while living here. Not only did my husband and I love the events and opportunities in the city when we were without children (so much to do for married couples without kids), but we’ve been so impressed with how many activities are geared towards families and children. We’ve discovered the city anew during these past two years with our daughter. It can be uncomfortable at first because this city is a merging of many cultures (Texas, Mexico, and Army, to name a few). But if your mind is open and you are ready to experience something amazing, get out and try El Paso. Take the opportunity to learn a little Spanish (there are so many opportunities both on and off post to develop your skills.) You can also check out The El Paso Scene, Hulafrog, and Visit El Paso for the new and upcoming things in El Paso. We’ve seen the city transform in six years, continuing to offer more and more. If it’s your first time, welcome (Bienvenidos!) to Fort Bliss and the most amazing city of the United States. Go out, explore, learn, and enjoy all that this city has to offer. —Megan C., military spouse
“OK, I have to confess: When we got orders to Fort Bliss, I was not very excited. It wasn’t on my Top Ten List. Actually, it wasn’t on my list at all! However, from the moment we crossed the Rio Grande and pulled into El Paso county, my expectations were quickly overturned. This place is really wonderful. Not only are the on-post amenities fantastic (MWR is really on their A-game!), but the city of El Paso is a gem of the Southwest. You could live here for years and probably never run out of things to do: hiking, great food of all different flavors, and multiple festivals almost every weekend. Las Cruces is just a short drive, and, if you are like me an occasionally miss the greenness of non-desert atmosphere, Ruidoso and Cloudcroft are just a couple of hours away.
Other perks of Fort Bliss: Despite what we heard, the desert is really beautiful. Sunsets and sunrises are practically a spiritual experience. It does get hot in the summer, but the fact that it truly is a ‘dry heat’ makes a world of difference (not like the sticky, humid, you-can’t-pay-me-enough-to-step-outside-in-July heat of other regions in the United States). Yes, you will need plenty of sunblock, and watch out for the ‘cranky’ part of the desert plants (desert life is tough sometimes, so the spines and thorns are a survival mechanism, not unlike the resilience of us military spouses!) El Paso international airport is less than 15 minutes from post, and it is a big enough airport to go where you need to go at a reasonable price, but not big enough to cause excessive stress or raised blood pressure when mobilizing your family to fly. Oh, and did I mention that cost of living is low out in the West Texas town of El Paso?
I will say this about Fort Bliss and El Paso: It will be what you make of it. Be courageous to get out and find the hidden treasures of this great Southwestern place. It’s a wonderful locale for outdoorsy types, foodies, and families with kids of all ages. Honestly, ‘cact-I’ can’t believe we were blessed to get stationed at such a wonderful place that far surpassed our family needs and expectations.” —Sharita K., military spouse, 10 years