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Thursday , October 18 2018
Home | Tag Archives: Franklin Mountains State Park

Tag Archives: Franklin Mountains State Park

Franklin Mountains State Park Breaks Ground on New Visitor’s Center

Friday morning, officials with Franklin Mountains State Park broke ground on the new park visitor’s center, kicking off the start of construction for the first facility to be built inside the state park since its establishment in 1979.

Franklin Mountains State Park is perfectly positioned to provide citizens to one of America’s great cities with extraordinary access to the outdoors,” says Texas State Parks Director Brent Leisure.  “We are excited to finally break ground on this long-awaited visitor center which will welcome and orient thousands of park visitors for generations to come.”

Attendees to this morning’s groundbreaking event had a chance to hear from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff, local officials and see artistic renderings of the new visitor’s center.

Speakers at the event included Sen. José Rodriguez, Rep. Joe Moody, Texas State Parks Director Brent Leisure, TPWD Infrastructure Director Jessica Davisson and Franklin Mountains State Park Superintendent Cesar Mendez.

“Constructing a visitor center within the nation’s largest urban wilderness park has been a central goal for many years and we are getting closer to accomplishing it,” says Mendez. “This new facility will be great gift to Franklin Mountains State Park and the local community.”

Soon to be located on the western slopes of the mountains in the park’s Tom Mays Unit, the visitor’s center will house the park’s administrative space and public space both indoors and outdoors.

Exhibits in the new facility will include interpretive material covering the natural and cultural history of the mountains and the park, as well as orientation on the park’s trails, facilities and activities for park visitors. Additionally, there will be a large classroom building to host presentations and educational/interpretive programs for school groups, meetings and gatherings.

“For the past 18 years, the park’s headquarters have been located outside of the state park,” says Mendez. “We envision this brand-new facility enhancing tremendously the access to the park and the visitors’ experiences, as well as improving the overall park operations. This important project was possible thanks to the invaluable support from the local community and state leadership.”

The almost 27,000-acre park has more than 130 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for visitors to recreate. The Tom Mays Unit is the only area within the park with picnic sites, campsites, and composting restrooms.

North Franklin Peak, located at an elevation of 7,192 feet over sea level is the highest point on the mountain range. Also located within the park are small natural springs that offer an oasis for animals and park visitors in the desert landscape.

For more information about Franklin Mountains State Park, visit the parks’ webpage

Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta Celebrates Natural Wonders of the Franklin Mountains Saturday

The 13th Annual Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta at the Tom Mays section of Franklin Mountains State Park is planned for Saturday, September 30, from 9am to 3pm.

The free family event helps people connect with the great outdoors of the Franklin Mountains and is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the help of volunteers from the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition. Organizes say the annual event attracts hundreds of people to the desert mountain park in Northwest El Paso.

The outdoor venue celebrates the natural wonders of the Chihuahuan Desert and Franklin Mountains State Park. Local environmental education groups will be on hand to offer free demonstrations, guided tours, guest speakers and informational booths designed to introduce the curious to the wonders of our fascinating desert.

Schedule of Events at the Entertainment Stage Area – End of the Loop Road next to the Exhibitor Tent Area

· 9:00am-9:15am- National Anthem
· 9:30am-10:00am- Cheerleading
· 10:00am-10:15am Zoo Animal Encounter
· 10:30am-11:00am- Story Telling(Marylyn Guida)
· 11:10am-11:35am- Martial Arts Demonstration
· 11:45am-12:15pm-Keyboarding/Piano
· 12:30pm-1:00pm- Rondalla Estudiantil
· 1:15pm-1:45pm- Ballet Folklorico (Champion Studio)
· 2:00pm-2:30pm- Belly Dancers

More on Geosciences Education Activities – Mini-field trips will run from 9am to 3pm, and will last only 30 minutes, with one exception. The short time means you will not be walking far. The geosciences do not only about understand the earth at your feet, but the vistas in the distance, and the sky above us.

Many of the following field trips may include a walk to a nearby place of higher elevation to get a better view. Hikers are encouraged to bring binoculars for the picturesque hike.

All mini-trips with the exception of trips 4 and 6 meet near the Restrooms at the End of the Loop Road to the right of the main stage and exhibit area.

Trip 1- 9:45 am to 10:45 am – Agave Loop for hikers interested in connecting to Mundy’s Gap.  See Park Map for Location.

Trip 2-10:30 am to 12:00 pm- Aztec Cave Trail is a 1.2 mile out and back trail that features a cave and is good for all skill levels.  See Park Map for Location.

Trip 3 – 11:00 am- 11:30pm- Short walk to elevation change.  Meet at the Trail head at the end of the loop road.

Trip 4 -11:00 am – 12:30pm –  Underground Copper Mine Tour, a maximum number of 15 participants with flashlights or headlamps. Meet at the Cottonwood Spring Parking Area. The hike is 1 mile round trip uphill over a rocky trail. Bring sturdy shoes, sunscreen, water, and a working flashlight. We will explore an underground tunnel which was part of an unsuccessful mineral entrepreneurial activity. Check out the blue grotto! See Park Map for Location.

Trip 5 -1:00 pm – 2:30pm –  Underground Copper Mine Tour, a maximum number of 15 participants with flashlights or headlamps. Meet at the Cottonwood Spring Parking Area. The hike is 1 mile round trip uphill over a rocky trail. Bring sturdy shoes, sunscreen, water, and a working flashlight. We will explore an underground tunnel which was part of an unsuccessful mineral entrepreneurial activity. Check out the blue grotto! See Park Map for Location.

Trip 6 -1:30 pm to 2:30 pm Upper Sunset Trail; is one of the shorter ones (1.3 miles) and offered some great views of the valley below.  Meet at the restrooms at the end of the loop road.

Trip 7- 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm Short Hike.  No elevation change. Meet at the Trail head at the end of the loop road.

Exhibitors attending the festival this year include New Mexico Farm, Ranch and Heritage Museum, Chamizal National Memorial, Hueco Tanks State Park, Aerial Tramway, Franklin Mountains State Park, Mexican Gray Wolf,  El Paso Parks and Recreation, Tech H2O, El Paso Zoo, International Boundary and Water Commission, Sierra Club, Women’s Voting, Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, Greater Big Bend Coalition, Frontera Land Alliance, Texas Master Naturalist, UTEP, El Paso Fire Department, Sustainability and Resilience Office, Audubon Society, and Friends of the Rio Bosque.

Special thanks to our volunteers from the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition, Franklin Mountains State Park, City of El Paso Parks and Rec, El Paso Zoo, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

For more information contact Franklin Mountains State Park at (915) 566-6441 or contact CDEC Committee Chair Carlos Rodriguez at 915-240-3311.

Wyler Aerial Tramway Celebrates 16 Year Anniversary of Reopening

Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park is celebrating its 16 year anniversary since its reopening and the public is invited to join the festivities Saturday, March 18, noon to 4 p.m.

Park visitors will be able to partake in interpretive tours, win door prizes, visit several educational exhibits and local food vendors, and enjoy live entertainment. The event is free and tramway rides are $8 for adults and $4 for children.

The Wyler Aerial Tramway first opened to the public in 1960 as El Paso Aerial Tramway. Fifteen years later it was established as a Texas State Park and reopened in 2001 as Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park.

The park features gondola rides, hiking trails and a 360-degree panoramic view of some 7,000 square miles covering two countries and three states.

Parking for the event will be at Bien Vivir Senior Services, 2300 McKinley Ave., El Paso. Roundtrip shuttle services will transport visitors to and from the parking area.

Regular park hours are Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the site, contact Wyler Aerial Tramway at 915-562-9899.

Congressman O’Rourke introduces National Monument Act to protect Castner Range

In a Wedensday afternoon Facebook post, El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced that he filed a bill to protect a wide swath of land in the city’s Northeast area, once used as a target range by the U.S. Army.

O’Rourke said, “Castner Range is the crown jewel of West Texas. It deserves to be protected and preserved in its natural state. Today I introduced the Castner Range National Monument Act. This bill would protect Castner Range in perpetuity by making it a national monument.”

Photo: UTEP
Photo: UTEP

The range, some 7,000-plus acres is surrounded by the Franklin Mountains State Park. According to the Department of Defense’s website, in 1926 the government first purchased 3,500, followed by almost 5,000 acres more in 1939. Once the range was opened, the Army set up several firing ranges for mortars, artillery, rockets and grenades fired by rifles.

By the mid-70’s, the Army began selling portions of the range to the City of El Paso, while sweeping the thousands of acres for unexploded ordnance.  Signs still warn the public about the potential for some unexploded devices in the area, now within walking distance of homes and businesses.

In his Facebook statement, O’Rourke goes on to state that, “The bill is the result of a community effort led by the frontera land alliance, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and other environmental community leaders who have been working to protect Castner Range since the 1970’s.”

On their respective websites, both the Frontera Land Alliance and the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition (FMWC) laud the introduction of the bill.

A statement on FMWC states,  “Thank you Congressman Beto O’Rourke for introducing the Castner Range National Monument Act today! Everyone in our City and the country appreciates your help in protecting our natural world for future generations to enjoy.”

The video above was produced by the Frontera Land Alliance and local historian Jackson Polk in 2014.

Photo by fronteralandalliance.org
Photo by fronteralandalliance.org
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