If you are into visiting places with spectacular, uninterrupted views and plenty of peace and solitude, then pay a visit to Franklin Mountains State Park.
Just 20 minutes from El Paso, the park features the enchanting Franklin mountains which are notable for their vivid red rock color and verdant cactus covered slopes.
A truly mesmerizing site, these mountains have a rich history that dates back over 12,000 when Native Americans are believed to have settled in the area.
Renowned for being one of the best state parks in Texas to go for birding, the likes of hiking, biking, rock climbing and geocaching are also very popular within this stunning landscape.
For those wanting to stay overnight, camping options are very much at a primitive level. However if you really want to immerse yourself in the majesty of the park then there is no better way to experience it.
Visitors to the park are able to enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities during their time there.
Below are just a handful of some of the many activities you can engage in.
Hiking at Franklin Mountains State Park
Within the park there is an extensive network of more than 100 miles of trails which meander their way through its stunning terrain of mountains and valleys.
These trails differ in terms of degrees of difficulty and length, but there is something for everyone.
One of the most popular of them all is the El Paso Tin Mines Trail. A trailhead that runs from the park’s eastern edge, this six mile out-and-back path will take you past a jagged, yet picturesque section of the park until you get to an old tin mine that operated in the 1910s.
For those who would prefer something a bit shorter, the mile long Aztec Cave Trail, or the 0.7 mile North Mount Franklin Trail both showcase some of the park’s most spectacular scenery.
Biking at Franklin Mountains State Park
If you would prefer to explore the park on two wheels, there are eight trails within the park that are specifically designated for mountain biking.
These include the Upper and Lower Sunset trails, which are one and five miles in length respectively and are perfect for beginner level riders.
If you are a more experienced rider, you may want to tackle the Franklin Mountain Loop. A very challenging, 25-mile trek, it will provide you with a unique tour of the park.
Throughout it, you will navigate over 3,000 undulating feet of elevation and get to witness some truly incredible views.
While riding be sure to wear proper safety gear like a helmet and pads and bring plenty of water with you.
Keep an eye out for cacti and rattlesnakes too. Both of which are plentiful in the park.
Rock Climbing at Franklin Mountains State Park
As you would expect given its composition, rock climbing is a big drawcard at Franklin Mountains State Park, attracting enthusiasts from all over Texas, as well as the USA as a whole.
Throughout it there are two main areas to engage in rock climbing. These are McKelligon Canyon and Sneed’s Cory.
The former is situated close to the park’s amphitheater and boasts a few traditional lines as well as several sport lines. The latter is a shorter and smaller cliff-line overall, but it still possesses more than a dozen fun routes.
Unfortunately, the park does not have climbing rangers on site, or hire out any equipment. So if you do decide to partake in rock climbing, you will be doing so at your own risk.
Birding at Franklin Mountains State Park
Given its unique location the park is considered one of the best public recreational spaces in Texas for bird watching.
Overall some 100 species reside here, with many of them being based there permanently.
If you are visiting the park in the spring or summer, you will definitely want to take your binoculars with you for the opportunity to see black-chinned hummingbirds at the Upper Sunset Trail.
Whilst hiking or biking on many of the park’s trails you might also see a greater roadrunner. While the likes of western tanagers, cactus wren, scaled and Gambel’s quails and several species of sparrows, warblers and vireos can be seen too.
Pets at Franklin Mountains State Park
You are welcome to bring your dog to the park, but they will have to be supervised and restrained at all times during your stay there.
Some other restrictions do also apply, so if you would like to bring your pet with you, it would be a good idea to contact the park’s main office to determine what they are.
Camping at Franklin Mountains State Park
For those who want to stay for a couple of nights, the park offers 33 primitive camping sites.
Overall there are 5 drive-up sites that can each accommodate up to 8 people. These are located at the Tom Mays Unit and are for self-contained RV sites. They do not provide hookups for water or electricity.
In addition to these, there are also 25 walk-in sites available, many of which offer shade. All of these sites also come with their own tent pad and picnic table, as well as a lantern post and outdoor grill. Like with the RV sites, water and electricity are not provided at them either.
For those requiring group camps there are three available, two of which can each accommodate up to 16 people and the other 30. Both of these have picnic tables as well as shade shelter, outdoor grills and a fire ring. Again there is no water or electricity available.
Franklin Mountains State Park
Tom Mays Park Access Rd
El Paso, TX 79930
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Franklin Mountains State Park: