Franklin Mountains State Park

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Franklin Mountains State Park
Franklin mts entrance.jpg
Entrance to Tom Mays unit
Relief map of Texas.png
Red pog.svg
Franklin Mountains
Nearest city El Paso
Coordinates 31°53′01″N106°30′08″W / 31.88361°N 106.50222°W / 31.88361; -106.50222 Coordinates: 31°53′01″N106°30′08″W / 31.88361°N 106.50222°W / 31.88361; -106.50222
Length23 mi (37 km)
Width3 mi (4.8 km)
Area24,247 acres (98.12 km2)
Elevation5,426 ft (1,654 m)
Named forBenjamin Franklin Coons
Administrator Texas Parks and Wildlife
Website TPWD website
North Franklin Mountain, looking northeast from South Franklin Mountain Northfranklinfromelephant2.jpg
North Franklin Mountain, looking northeast from South Franklin Mountain
Caves on the Ron Coleman Trail Franklin mts caves.jpg
Caves on the Ron Coleman Trail

Franklin Mountains State Park is a Texas state park in El Paso, Texas, in the United States. Park headquarters are located at an elevation of 5,426 feet (1,654 m) with the highest peak reaching 7,192 feet (2,192 m). [1] It is the largest urban park in the nation lying completely within city limits, covering 24,247.56 acres (9,813 ha). [2] Franklin Mountains State Park is open year-round for recreational hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and scenic driving and vistas.

El Paso, Texas City in Texas, United States

El Paso is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2017 population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 683,577. Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 844,818.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Urban park park in a city or other incorporated place

An urban park or metropolitan park, also known as a municipal park or a public park, public open space, or municipal gardens (UK), is a park in cities and other incorporated places to offer recreation and green space to residents of, and visitors to, the municipality. The design, operation and maintenance is usually done by government agencies, typically on the local level, but may occasionally be contracted out to a park conservancy, friends of group, or private sector company.



Native Americans and other travellers have used the natural resources in the Franklin Mountains when crossing the gap between the Franklin Mountains and the Juarez Mountains that is now Ciudad Juárez across the Rio Grande in Mexico and El Paso. Pictograms and mortar pits confirm a human presence in the mountains dating back more than 12,000 years. [2]

Ciudad Juárez City in Chihuahua, Mexico

Ciudad Juárez is the most populous city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The city is commonly referred to by locals as simply Juárez, and was known as Paso del Norte until 1888. Juárez is the seat of the municipality of Juárez with an estimated population of 1,428,508. The city lies on the Rio Grande river, south of El Paso, Texas, United States. Together with the surrounding areas, the cities form El Paso–Juárez, the second largest binational metropolitan area on the Mexico–U.S. border, with a combined population of almost 2.3 million people.

Rio Grande river forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

The Franklin Mountains are most likely named after Benjamin Franklin Coons, who in 1849 purchased a ranch in what is now El Paso. At first known as Coons Ranch, by 1851 the settlement took on Coons' middle name and was called Franklin. [3] Despite the town being officially named El Paso in 1852, the locals continued to call it Franklin throughout the 1850s. [4]

The El Paso Tin Mining and Smelting Company operated a tin mine on the northeast slope of North Franklin Mountain from 1909–1915. While the mine had the distinction of being the only tin mine ever located in the U.S., it was an economic failure. [2] [5]

Tin Chemical element with atomic number 50

Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table of elements. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains stannic oxide, SnO2. Tin shows a chemical similarity to both of its neighbors in group 14, germanium and lead, and has two main oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table, thanks to its magic number of protons. It has two main allotropes: at room temperature, the stable allotrope is β-tin, a silvery-white, malleable metal, but at low temperatures it transforms into the less dense grey α-tin, which has the diamond cubic structure. Metallic tin does not easily oxidize in air.

Mining The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.

Efforts to grant protected status to the Franklin Mountains began as early as 1925. A real estate developer sought to build housing on the mountains and in 1979 he built a road up into them. A local organization known as the Wilderness Park Coalition was able to convince the Texas Legislature to protect the mountains in 1979. Despite this success the legislature, in the same bill, prohibited funding for the development, operation and maintenance of the park. [6] The property was formally acquired in 1981. [2] Changes to the legislation were made in 1985 when a plan for park development was established [6] and the park was opened to the public in 1987. [2]


The Franklin Mountains are 23 miles (37 km) long and 3 miles (4.8 km) wide and stretch from El Paso into New Mexico. [7] The Franklins were formed due to crustal extension related to the Cenozoic Rio Grande rift. Although the present topography of the range and adjoining basins is controlled by extension during rifting in the last 10 million years, faults within the range also record deformation during the Laramide orogeny, between 85 and 45 million years ago. [7]

New Mexico State of the United States of America

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

The Cenozoic Era meaning "new life", is the current and most recent of the three Phanerozoic geological eras, following the Mesozoic Era and extending from 66 million years ago to the present day.

Rio Grande rift

The Rio Grande rift is a north-trending continental rift zone. It separates the Colorado Plateau in the west from the interior of the North American craton on the east. The rift extends from central Colorado in the north to the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, in the south. The rift zone consists of four basins that have an average width of 50 kilometers. The rift can be observed on location at Rio Grande National Forest, White Sands National Monument, Santa Fe National Forest, and Cibola National Forest, among other locations.

The mountains are the southernmost tip of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. [5] The Precambrian rocks atop North Franklin Mountain are "the highest geological structure in the state of Texas." [8] The highest peak is North Franklin Mountain at 7,192 feet (2,192 m). North Franklin Peak can be accessed via a trail located east of Mundy's Gap. The mountains are composed primarily of sedimentary rock with some igneous intrusions. Geologists refer to them as tilted-block fault mountains and in them can be found billion-year-old Precambrian rocks, the oldest in Texas. [7]


Franklin Mountains State Park is part of the Chihuahuan Desert. The plants and wildlife found in the park, despite it being within a city, are typical of those found throughout the rest of the desert. Barrel cactus, yucca, Mexican and California poppies are common plants. [2] Trees like cottonwood, hackberry, juniper and oak grow along the springs on the mountain slopes. [5] Mammals in the park include mule deer, mountain lions, black bear, ring-tailed cat and a variety of rodents. [2] [5] Birds observed at the park included golden eagles, owls, hawks, and a wide variety of smaller birds. [2]


Franklin Mountains State Park is open for year-round recreation. Development of the park is limited and much of the land is far from paved access roads and parking areas. Two hiking trails can be accessed from Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive. Plans for a network of 100 miles (160 km) of hiking trails are under consideration. [2] Rock climbing is permitted in the park and well established climbing areas are located in McKelligon Canyon The park headquarters is also located in McKelligon Canyon. Five camping areas are found in the Tom Mays Unit of the park with picnic facilities. [2]

The Wyler Aerial Tramway is an aerial tramway operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is located in the Franklin Mountains State Park. The tram is closed to public as of Sept. 2018. The tramway complex covers 196 acres (0.79 km2) on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. The gondolas travel along two 2600 foot 1 3/8" diameter steel cables to Ranger Peak, 5,632 feet (1,717 m) above sea level. The trip takes about four minutes and lifts riders up 940 vertical feet above the boarding area.

See also

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Wyler Aerial Tramway

Wyler Aerial Tramway is an aerial tramway in El Paso, Texas, United States. The tramway is operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is located in Franklin Mountains State Park. The tramway complex covers 196 acres (0.79 km2) on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. The gondolas travel along two 2600 foot 1 3/8" diameter steel cables to Ranger Peak, 5,632 feet (1,717 m) above sea level. The trip takes about four minutes and lifts riders up 940 vertical feet above the boarding area. From Ranger Peak you can see three states and two countries on a clear day. The tramway was closed indefinitely to the public in September 2018.

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The culture of El Paso, Texas is influenced both heavily by American and Mexican cultures due to its position as a border town, its large Hispanic population, and its history as part of Spanish America and Mexico. El Paso is home to a number of cultural events and festivals. El Paso also hosts various theaters, museums, and other cultural sites.


  1. "Franklin Mountains State Park Trail Network". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. February 18, 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Franklin Mountain State Park". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
  3. Thomas, W.H. (1990). El Paso: A Borderlands History. El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press/UTEP. p. 111. ISBN   0-87404-246-1.
  4. Thomas, W.H. (1990). El Paso: A Borderlands History. El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press/UTEP. p. 112. ISBN   0-87404-246-1.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Robert Miles. "Franklin Mountains". Texas State Historical Association: The Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  6. 1 2 Robert Miles. "Franklin Mountains State Park". Texas State Historical Association: The Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  7. 1 2 3 Van Hise, C.R.; Leith, C.K. (1909). Pre-Cambrian Geology of North America. United States Geological Survey.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  8. Lemone, D. V. "The Franklin Mountains of El Paso, Texas". University of Texas-El Paso Department of Geology. Retrieved 2010-07-01.