As I mentioned yesterday, taking I-10 through the middle of El Paso is one of our least favorite routes with our 39-foot fifth wheel. We have encountered heavy traffic, lots of construction, crazy drivers, and it has always been stressful. Of course on any given day at any given time, it could be fine. But it has been such an issue for us in the past, we decided to travel on Sunday for better odds.
However, since it has been a few years, we looked closer at our maps, and we noticed TX-375 which bypasses El Paso to the north. However, our Mountain Directory For Truckers, RV, & Motorhome Drivers (our go-to guide for checking mountain passes) indicated the grades crossing the Franklin Mountains were not exactly RV-friendly for long, heavy RVs.
With a little more research, I found many RVers were taking a portion of TX-375 when going east to west, but then taking an alternate route just before going up into the mountains. We took the alternate route which I’ve indicated on the map below, and while there are a couple of tricky spots, it was stress-free going over a small pass north of the mountains.
Below, I have directions and photos for the east to west route and the west to east route.
Directions Going East to West (Click on photos below to make them larger)
From I-10 follow the signs to TX-375 Loop North
Continue on TX-375 Loop for about 20 miles (even on a Sunday, the first few miles on TX-375 were busy)
Take Exit 21 toward U.S. 54.
This is where it gets a little tricky. At Exit 21, you have a very short distance to cross two lanes of traffic and get over into the far right lane to turn right at the light before going under the overpass. Depending on the time of day and traffic, that could be nerve-wracking, but just go slow and use your right turn signal as you are coming down the ramp.
Turn right at the light onto Gateway North Boulevard (there is a Circle K Gas Station on the corner).
On Gateway North, get into the middle lane and just stay IN THAT LANE.
DO NOT get onto U.S. 54. Stay on Gateway North for about a mile and a half.
Turn left onto Kenworthy Street which becomes TX Farm to Market Road 3255 (aka Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) as soon as you go under U.S. 54. Two lanes turn left, and if you stayed in the proper Gateway North lane you shouldn’t have had to change lanes at all in this section.
Once you are on FM 3255 it’s easy the rest of the way.
Crossing the New Mexico border after about five and a half miles, FM 3255 turns into NM-213 (aka War Road).
After about two and a half miles on NM-213, you’ll come to a traffic circle (aka roundabout).
Follow the signs to NM-404 going three quarters of the way around the circle.
From there, it’s eight miles back to I-10 over a small pass through Anthony Gap.
Again, it can be a little tricky in that one section getting from the TX-275 Loop to TX FM 3255/NM-213, but in the end, there was much less worry about the longer, steeper grades in the Franklin Mountains, and we got through El Paso much easier and less stressful than prior trips.
Directions Going West to East (Click on photos below to make them larger)
From I-10 take Exit 162 toward Anthony & Chaparral via NM-404.
Turn left onto NM-404 (aka Ohara Road) and travel eight miles. At the time of this post, NM-404 ended at the traffic circle.
At the traffic circle (aka roundabout) take a right onto NM-213 heading south.
After about two and a half miles, you cross the border into Texas and NM-213 turns into Texas Farm to Market Road 3255 (aka Martin Luther King Jr. as it gets closer to El Paso).
Continue about five and half miles on TX FM 3225.
As you approach U.S 54, stay in the right lane and go straight. Bearing left will take you on to Kenworthy Street – Don’t do that.
Staying straight will take you onto Gateway South Boulevard.
Get in the middle lane and stay there. DO NOT get on U.S. 54.
After about a mile and a half, turn left onto Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive (going under U.S. 54).
The first photo below shows you the signs (far right) for the TX-375 Loop, but you can’t turn left there. Continue through the light and the left two lanes both turn left onto the Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive (second photo below). If you got in the middle lane on Gateway South you shouldn’t have had to change lanes and can make the wider left turn.
As soon as you go under U.S. 54, get in the left lane as you access the TX-375 Loop from the left lane. There is a Walmart on your right, and the sign (far right in the first photo below) showing you need to go left is under the Walmart sign; it’s not easy to see and it’s probably too late by the time you do see it.
Merge onto TX-375 Loop from left lane.
Once you are on the TX-375 Loop South, it’s about 20 miles until it connects with I-10 on the eastern side of El Paso.
For those with lightweight RVs that aren’t fully loaded, this alternate route may not be necessary. But for us, considering we’re hauling a heavy load that is our home and contains almost everything we own, we tend to be extra cautious when it comes to mountain driving and city driving. We’ll certainly go out of our way to have less stress. The good news for this route is that it’s only a few miles and a few minutes longer than taking I-10 through town and it’s almost identical to taking the TX-375 Loop all the way.
Hope that this helps others that are a bit skittish about getting from one side of El Paso to the other with big, heavy RVs.