The approximately 37 kilometers of relatively short mountain range of the Franklin Mountains extends north of El Paso to New Mexico and is not only the most popular excursion destination and recreation area for the city with its diverse possibilities, but also the defining element of the landscape. Since 1987 there is also a state park where you can stay overnight at a campsite. The highest mountain is the widely visible, 2192 meter high North Franklin Mountain, where a hiking trail leads to the summit. The mountain range was named after Benjamin Franklin Coons, who lived from 1849 as one of the first settlers in the region on a ranch in today’s urban area of El Paso.
According to geological studies, the earth shifts that led to the formation of the mountains began at least 60 million years ago. Inside, even rocks are found that are much older. In comparison, human traces are almost new; the oldest are estimated to be around 10,000 years BC – some petroglyphs are still to be found as contemporary witnesses. On the surface, especially in the higher layers, the rock appears in a dark red color; this comes from the high proportion of oxidized iron.
The peaks of the Franklin Mountains, considered to be the southernmost foothills of the Rocky Mountains, served as points of reference for countless settlers on their way west. In addition to the shaped like a triangle North Franklin Mountain these are mainly the 2101 meters high South Franklin and Anthony’s Nose with 2131 meters altitude. North Franklin lies entirely within the boundaries of the urban area of El Paso; Here is also the Franklin Mountains State Park .
This park is the largest state park in the US, located entirely within one location. Despite its “urban” location, it is a habitat for many animal and plant species. Among the species represented here are various cacti, palmlilien and poppy, in the animals are deers, eagles and pumas to call. For example, if you are lucky enough to find yourself on one of the trails from which the Mundy’s Gap Trail leads for about 2.5 kilometers to the north flank of North Franklin. From there, the almost 6-kilometer Peak Trail takes you up to the summit of the mountain, where you will find a radio antenna, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view that goes up to the Guadalupe Mountains in over 150 kilometers on clear days. Guided hikes are also offered.
In addition to hiking, there are several other recreational opportunities. Many of the trails are also open to horse riding and you can also explore a large part of the park by car. You can stop at one of the more than 40 picnic areas, which are all equipped with a shady gazebo and barbecues. If you like something more active, you can try climbing in some places, for example in McKelligon Canyon. There is also an open-air theater, which is occasionally used for performances or parties.
One of the most popular destinations is the Wyler Aerial Tramway. Built in Switzerland and opened in 2001, this cable car leads up to the summit of Ranger Peak at an altitude of 1717 meters. During the four-minute journey, the passengers already enjoy a great panoramic view. Once at the top, there is a platform with a very good view. The train runs daily between 12 and 20 o’clock, Sundays from 10 to 18 o’clock.
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