Franklin Mountains State Park

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Franklin Mountains State Park, a 24,250 acre park is located near El Paso in the Big Bend Region of Texas. Franklin Mountains lie between the Rio Grande Valley to the west and the Hueco Bolson to the east. The river cuts through the mountains on the south side which separates the Franklins from the mountains lying across the river in Mexico. For thousands of years, native Americans, and for the last four centuries, soldiers, priests, traders, adventurers, gold-seekers, entrepreneurs have passed through the gap in both directions in an endless procession of expansion, settlement, raiding, and conquest. Native American groups made the area home, using the plant and animal resources of the Franklins for more than 12,000 years. These people left their marks in the Franklins – colorful pictographs on boulders and in rock shelters and deep mortar pits (used to grind seeds) in rock outcrops near scattered water sources. Beginning in the 1580s, less than a century after Columbus, Spanish conquistadors and priests passed beneath the peaks of the Franklins on their mission to conquer and colonize the Puebloan villages in present-day New Mexico.

Nature and Wildlife:

Although located completely within the city limits of El Paso, the park abounds in birds, reptiles, and small mammals. The observant visitor may also catch a glimpse of mule deer, fox, and perhaps an occasional cougar. The skies above the Franklins are home to Golden Eagles, a variety of hawks, the occasional falcon, and come night, a variety of bats and owls. Wildlife, though secretive, is remarkably diverse. Existing vegetation typifies the northern Chihuahuan Desert, with lechuguilla, sotol, ocotillo, several yuccas, and numerous cacti. The Franklins are the only known location in Texas for a number of plant species, including the Southwest barrel cactus.

Things to Do:

Hiking:

Two hiking trails are currently accessible off of Loop 375/Trans-Mountain Road. Work is underway for a trail network that will ultimately offer over a 100-mile system.

Rock Climbing:

Rock climbing is just one of the park’s newest recreational activities, with established climbing areas in McKelligon Canyon.

Camping:

A limited number of primitive tent-camping sites are available in the Tom Mays Unit. Traditional sites allow for tents placed on the ground. Five self-contained RV sites have also been added. All potential campers should be forewarned: there are no ground fires within park boundaries and no water or electricity. Those desiring
camping reservations may contact the park office. Reservations are recommended.

Camping:

Maximum 8 people per campsite unless otherwise noted. Applicabledaily entrance fees are charged in addition to the campsite or facility fee. No ground fires allowed within park boundaries. Reservations can be made through the park only.

5 – Back Pack Primitive Campsites no water available – Located in the backcountry. Everything must be packed in and out.

$4 per night

14 – Walk-in (25 yards) developed tent campsites – Sites have a tent pad, picnic table and a grill (water is in the area).

$8 per night

5 – Self-contained RV sites (no water or electric hookups):

$8 per night

2 – Group Campsites (16 people per site):

$16 per night

1 – Group Campsites (24 people):

$24 per night

Tours:

The park conducts tours open to the general public. These ranger-led tours are conducted on the first and third weekends of the month. Reservations are preferred, with tours limited to ten persons. If attendance allows, others will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For reservations, call the park office. Tours depart from the park’s front entrance at 8 a.m. during the summer months and 9 a.m. during the winter months.

Day Use Area:

The Tom Mays section of the park is the public day use area for the park. It has shaded picnic/barbecue sites, self-composting toilets, several miles of gentle hiking trails through the foothills of the Franklins, and primitive camping (tents only). A $1.7 million face lift shared by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Department of Transportation renovated old picnic sites, built additional ones, and built new rest rooms meeting ADA access standards. Each of the 44 picnic sites offers a shade roof, picnic table, and barbecue grill. Grills are for charcoal use only, guests may not use wood or dried native vegetation. The former gravel parking areas were paved to allow greater public access.

Entrance Fees:

  • $4 per day, per person 13 and older
  • Group Adult entrance fee per person: $1Contact the Park to make prior arrangements.
  • Group School-Sponsored Trip:Contact the Park to make arrangements.

Special entrance rates for:

  • Holders of:
    • Texas State Parks Pass.
    • Youth Group Annual Entrance Permit.
    • Texas Parklands Passport (Bluebonnet Pass)
  • Children 12 and under free

Seasons and Hours:

The park is open seven days a week year round. The gate is open from 8 a.m. to 5p.m. except during the first Saturday in April to the third Saturday in
September, when the Tom Mays Unit gate is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sunday.

Elevation:North Franklin Mountain 7,192 ft.; Trans-Mountain Highway across the park – 5,120 ft.

Weather: Enjoyable weather even during winter months with temperatures ranging from approximately 32F to 60F. Summer temperature ranges are from 68F to 95F. Spring and fall are usually mild seasons with sunny days and cool nights. Annual precipitation ranges from 7 inches to 10 inches. Showers may occur anytime of the year, with thunderstorm activity peaking during July and August. Busy Visitor Season: Spring (especially Easter) and fall.

Contact Information:

Franklin Mountains State Park

1331 McKelligon Canyon Road

El Paso, TX 79930

(915) 566-6441

Nearby Attractions:

In the El Paso area are three other state park facilities: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site (great rock art and rock climbing); Magoffin Home State Historic Site (the only historic home site in El Paso); Wyler Aerial Tramway, the only public accessible tram in Texas, is now open. Also in the area are Ciudad Juarez,
Mexico (great shopping); the Mission Trail (visit some of the oldest missions in the nation); and the Camino Real (the ancient Spanish road taking travelers from today’s Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico). The City of El Paso offers “Viva El Paso” (a live musical presenting El Paso’s History) each season from June to August; Diablo Baseball (voted the best stadium in minor league baseball); Wilderness Park Museum (offering a historical perspective of life in the El Paso area); Chamizal National Memorial (cultural events offered throughout the year); and other attractions such as the El Paso Speedway, theEl Paso Museum of Art, and more.

 

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