Franklin Mountains State Park
Things to Do
The Franklins are the largest sustained mountain range in Texas, with the summit of North Franklin Peak rising to an elevation of 7,192 feet, approximately 3,000 feet above the city below. On the eastern flank of North Franklin Mountain lie the remnants of our nation's only tin mining, milling and smelting operation, which was active from 1910 through 1915.
Two hiking trails are currently accessible off of Loop 375/Trans-Mountain Road. Work is underway for a trail network that will ultimately offer a system of more than 100 miles of trails. Rock climbing is one of the park's newest recreational activities, with established climbing areas in McKelligon Canyon.
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 allowed within park boundaries and no water or electricity supplies. Those desiring camping reservations may contact the park office. Reservations are recommended.
Note: Visitors are asked to help protect the park at all times. No motorized vehicles (including ATVs) are allowed on any dirt roads or trails.
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 10 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.
Special arrangements for clubs, scout groups, school groups or any group of more than 8 persons are available, depending upon staffing. Please call the park office for more information. The park reserves the right to limit the number of hikers in a tour group or to cancel trips due to weather conditions. For all tours and hiking in the Franklin Mountains, wear good shoes (preferably hiking boots) and weather-appropriate clothing and travel in pairs. Always bring plenty of water and snacks. Cell phones are advised if available.
- Interpretive Guide to Franklin Mountains State Park
- Franklin Mountains State Park Junior Ranger Activity Booklet
Local Support Groups: The Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition has offered more than 20 years of support to Franklin Mountains State Park. The farsighted vision of the Coalition led to the park's creation, ultimately protecting the area from further development. The Coalition's continuing counsel with regard to park management fosters the strong bond between the park and our local community. Among current Coalition efforts is the drive to have the Department of the Army donate an area known as Castner Range for inclusion into the park. The Coalition's involvement with the park contributes to the overall Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mission, which is: To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. For more information on the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, visit its website at http://iloveparks.com/fmwc/issues.htm
In the El Paso area there are three other state park facilities: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, which offers spectacular rock art and rock climbing; Magoffin Home State Historic Site, the only historic home site in El Paso; and Wyler Aerial Tramway, the only publicly accessible tram in Texas. Other nearby attractions include Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; the Mission Trail, home to some of the oldest missions in the nation; and El 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 summer from June to August; Diablo baseball, voted the best stadium in minor league baseball; Wilderness Park Museum, which offers a historical perspective on life in the El Paso area; Chamizal National Memorial, where cultural events are offered throughout the year; and other attractions such as the El Paso Speedway, the El Paso Museum of Art and more. For more information on this region go to the Texas Historical Commission - Texas Mountain Trail website.
Birding in the El Paso area will likely involve a visit to the Franklin Mountains and the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site areas. Also, the local Audubon Society has created an excellent birding area known as Feather Lakes. El Paso's natural flyway brings a large variety of bird species to the region. Local groups are aiding this natural flyway by rehabilitating nearby "bosques" (wetlands), adding to the available bird and wildlife habitat.