|Nearest city||El Paso|
|Length||23 mi (37 km)|
|Width||3 mi (4.8 km)|
|Area||24,247 acres (98.12 km2)|
|Elevation||5,426 ft (1,654 m)|
|Named for||Benjamin Franklin Coons|
|Administrator||Texas Parks and Wildlife|
My abuela (grandma) lived in El Paso Texas for over 20 years. As a kid one of the highlights of visiting her was driving out to the Franklin Mountains State Park. It is located very near the Rio Grande and about 30 minutes from the crossing into Juarez Mexico. It is at an elevation of about 5,426 feet (1,654 m) with the highest peak reaching around 7,192 feet (2,192 m). From just about any location on the trails one can see beautiful vistas of El Passo or Juarez stretching off into the distance.
The park is located in the Chihuahua desert, so the landscape is very arid and (mostly) hot. You have to be careful on the trail because most of the plants and many of the insects pack a punch. Sotols, yuccas, cholla, and other spiked greenery abound. I have on more than one occasion seen scorpions and rattlers on the trail, if you go hiking wear long pants and boots. Some of the trails are very challenging and have steep and rocky grades. The park has over 100 miles of them, so the variety in difficulty varies alot. There are also mountain bike trails that are AWESOME, but pretty technical. Rock climbers will find plenty of good terrain to scramble up, but all the necessary safety gear is required by the park. Be sure and carry a water bottle and a cell phone if you go hiking any distance, although service can be spotty. Take a map and go with a friend, because I can tell you from personal experience it is easy to get lost.
Probably the most spectacular service the park offers is the Wyler Aerial Tramway. Gondolas hanging over 900 feet in the air from steal cables that stretch across 196 acres. The views from the ride are absolutely inspiring. If you go to the park and miss this ride it would be a big mistake. Bring a camera and get some pics of the mountains, and I promise your Facebook “friends” will be green with envy.
If your into bird watching (as I am) this is a fair spot, but not a great one. There are a few feeders in front of park HQ that brings in house finches, sparrows, and the occasional wren. With some luck you might see burrowing owls, road runners, and cactus wrens. It is defiantly worth the trip if birding floats your boat, but I would not call it world class.
It’s 5 dollars to get in and kids under 12 enter free. Camp sites are only 8 bucks a night. If you camp I suggest the spring or fall because in summer and winter the weather can get a little extreme.
I could say much more about the place but my best advise is to check it out for yourself. Maybe I’ll see you on the trail!