Tropical-style pools appear in the salt flats of West Texas

Recent rains in the Guadalupe Mountains have resulted in a very unusual place: Caribbean ski pools as far as you can see.

These “pools” are actually salt flats, a two-million-year-old extension located east of El Paso and close to the small, suitable town of Salt Flat, Texas. Although the salt flats are usually dry, this year’s rainy summer has created a kind of magical oasis.

According to KTSM 9 News, based in El Paso, knee-deep water makes people flock to the “shores” of these pools to swim or just enjoy the majestic scene. Unfortunately, most of these salt pans are also on private property, which is causing headaches at the local sheriff’s office.

In a Facebook post shared on Aug. 30, the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office sent a warning to potential visitors to stay away.

The flats sit at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains and are actually the remains of an ancient shallow lake from the Pleistocene era, according to a 2016 piece from the Houston Chronicle. In more recent times, flats have been the source of land fights, political conflicts and even war.

According to reports in the Chronicle, El Pasoans in the 1700s would walk 100 miles to the flats to acquire salt. It remained in communal ownership open to all until the 1870s, when two El Paso businessmen attempted to acquire property rights over the flats and instead ignited a four-day battle with firearms.

Today, the salt flats are spread mainly by privately owned ranches. While a visit today to see the natural wonder probably won’t end in shots (although in Texas it’s possible), the sheriff’s office says it’s issuing appointments to anyone trapped on private land.

The El Capitan formation is a famous reference in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
The El Capitan formation is a famous reference in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.E. Joseph Deering / Personal

We contacted both the national parks service and the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office for comment, but received no response immediately.

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