After visitors to the Sun City attend the 81st annual Hyundai Sun Bowl, they will have a chance to catch a rare glimpse of El Paso from atop of Mount Cristo Rey.
The annual Sun Bowl Hike, taking place on Dec. 28, is one of three big Mount Cristo Rey hiking events that happen each year.
“It gives people an opportunity to come in [town] for the Sun Bowl game and while visiting for the holidays make the climb up there,” said Ruben Escandon Jr., spokesperson for the Mount Cristo Rey committee.
The Sun Bowl Hike, hosted by Celebration of Our Mountain, is sponsored by Destination El Paso and El Paso Scene.
Now in its fifth year, the Sun Bowl Hike is a relatively new tradition compared to the annual hike that takes place the last Sunday in October every year. On Oct. 26, hikers joined in the 75th annual pilgrimage, climbing two and half miles to the summit of Mount Cristo Rey and back down again.
“This is small pilgrimage compared to the ones we do in October, and especially the one we do on Good Friday for Easter,” Escandon said.
The 75th annual pilgrimage drew more than 25,000 people, and up to 10,000 people make the climb on Good Friday each year, he said.
A group of 500 to 1,000 hikers are expected to participate in the Sun Bowl Hike on Dec. 28, Escandon estimated.
“We are pleased that so many visitors who come for the Sun Bowl, and locals, take advantage of this event,” said Veronica Castro, director of tourism development at Destination El Paso.
At the summit, visitors will see the 29-foot-tall limestone statue of Christ that is viewable from three states.
Originally, a 12-foot wooden cross was erected on the mountain in 1934, but was replaced weeks later with a bigger iron cross. In 1937, Father Lourdes Costa, a local parish priest, and Bishop A.J. Schuler commissioned sculptor Urbici Soler to construct the monument that stands today. Soler travelled to Austin the next year to acquire nearly 40 tons of limestone from the quarries. The base of the monument, 14 feet wide and 10 feet high, was completed in May of 1939 and the monument was finished before the pilgrimage on October 29, 1939. The crown that encircles the base of the monument was constructed in 1989 in celebration the monument’s 50 years atop of Mount Cristo Rey.
Mass will not be held during the Sun Bowl Hike.
“It’s not a religious hike; it’s a nature hike,” Escandon said.
Reservations are not required to participate. Donations of $5 for adults and $2 for children are requested. Donations help support the Mount Cristo Rey Restoration Committee, a volunteer organization of 35 volunteers who maintain and preserve the Statue of Christ atop the mountain.
“We take care of the monument, the maintenance, the trail — everything that has to do with Mount Cristo Rey,” Escandon said.
The hike takes about two hours to the summit and two hours hiking back down. Hikers are encouraged to bring water and snacks.
“It’s not an easy walk; it is a moderately strenuous walk,” Escandon said. “It’s two and half miles walking on a dirt trail all the way up to the top.”
Sun bowl Hike
Mount Cristo Rey
Sunday, Dec. 28 at noon
No reservations needed.
Requested donations: $5 for adults, $2 for children.
Hike subject to cancellation due to rain or snow.
Directions: Take Sunland Park Drive to Doniphan, turn south, and then west on Racetrack Drive.
Cross the Rio Grande bridge, and then turn south on McNutt Road (Highway 273). Go about one mile and
turn right on the road leading to the
Mount Cristo Rey parking lot.
For more information, call 915-542-1422.