From beautiful scenic vistas, amazing hiking trails over mountains and through the Chihuahua Desert, Franklin Mountains offers so much to it’s visitors, and while most places like this are isolated and miles from anything, the bustling and beautiful city of El Paso is only minutes away!
Know Before You Go
Take plenty of water, it gets hot out there, even on sunny winter days!
Although it feels like you are REALLY far away from everything, you’re only minutes from shopping, gas and restaurants! That doesn’t mean skip filling up on gas before your visit!
McKelligon Canyon Unit
At the base of the mountain there is parking for people to walk and run up to the entrance to the state park, using the wide sidewalk by the road. It’s very busy, used both by groups of moms pushing strollers and military personnel for workouts. There is no fee, but I wouldn’t take toddler or young children to walk because it’s so close to the road!
The Park Entrance and Interpretive Center can give you maps and information on trails, camping in Tom Mays and more!
McKelligon Canyon/Ron Coleman Trail
Hiking up from the trailhead, there are two caves along the trail, you can continue up to the summit of Franklin Mountain, or go all the way to Smugglers Pass, not quite a 4 mile, strenuous hike!
Redundant, but it bears repeating, take plenty of water! Your best hiking in El Paso is from the fall to the spring, avoiding summer except on cool morning short hikes!
McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater host concerts and performances. Before and during performances, the walls are closed to rock climbing, click HERE to check schedule before going, or to see a concert in this really cool venue!
So little time. We didn’t get to, but there are bouldering and top-rope climbing opportunities in McKelligon Canyon and Smugglers Pass. For more information, click HERE to visit The Cave Climbing Co.’s facebook page.
Tom Mays Unit
Located on the OTHER side of the mountain, the Tom Mays Unit has camping, hiking and bike trails and more!
Aztec Cave Trail
No, Aztecs didn’t actually live in Texas, but the Aztec Cave does have some early Native American Rock Art inside. It’s a fairly easy hike up the mountain, although fairly steep at the top. Watch for loose rocks on the way down! Take hiking boots, a hiking stick and plenty of water!
A beautiful evening hike, the Upper Sunset Trail is only 1.3 miles, with many switchbacks, and the Lower Sunset Trail is over 6 miles. There are also several loop trails in the park, ranging from 6 miles to over 15, offering plenty of riding!
I love the campsites at Franklin Mountain, which are extremely far apart! All camping at Franklin Mountains are primitive, and some are drive up, and they have some hike in. C5 is my favorite, but notice, no shade.
Things To Do in El Paso
The El Paso Zoo!
We loved Kiki’s! Click HERE to visit their website.
Franklin Mountains State Park
1331 McKelligon Canyon Road, El Paso
Click HERE to visit their website.
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