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  • Franklin Mountains State ParkFranklin Mountains State Park El Paso, Texas
    The Franklin Mountains State Park is the biggest urban park in the country that is located within the city limits, in this case, El Paso, Texas and contains over 24,000 acres. The park was started by an act of the state legislature in 1979 and is considered a marvelous ecological and aesthetic natural environment, and has become a welcome sight and recreational area in the city. The act was passed so that the mountains could be used by all and not developed or destroyed by the encroaching masses. It was acquired by the Parks and Wildlife department in 1981 and opened to public usage in 1987. The mountains look out over the Rio Grande River, and lead from Mexico into the United States; where for millennia, native Americans lived, hunted and thrived until the arrival of Europeans, bringing in soldiers, traders, entrepreneurs, gold-seekers, priests, adventurers and ordinary people looking for land to homestead and farm. The early native American tribes used the region for its bountiful plants and animals for over 12,000 years, leaving behind evidence of their inhabitation with beautiful pictographs on the many boulders and rock shelters, as well as deep mortar pits that were used for grinding seeds; always near water resources. By the 1580s, the Spanish conquistadors and priests were passing by the mountains to colonize and conquer the Puebloan villages that were located in what is now New Mexico. There are two trails that meander the mountains and valleys, with a new 100 mile trail in the works. Lately, rock climbing has become a very popular sport and many come here to climb the rock formations in McKelligon Canyon and other areas. There are also tent sites in the Tom Mays area with five RV sites just added. Fires are not allowed, and there isn't any water or electricity, but the camping is great and you must apply for a permit and reservation first. Remember this is a park and must be protected by all entering and therefore will be enjoyed for many generations to come. Ranger led tours are available, on the first and third weekends every month with reservations necessary. They are happy to make special arrangements for groups like the scouting organizations, schools and clubs. Other parks in the area that are also very interesting and exciting include; Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, Wyler Aerial Tramway and Magoffin Home State Historic Site.

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  • Hueco Tanks State Historic SiteHueco Tanks State Historic Site El Paso, Texas
    The Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is about 30 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas and has become quite popular for its bird watching, pictographs like the one to the right, and rock climbing. The area is full of pictographs, many over thousands of years old and always beautiful and interesting, since they were put here by another people that lived, hunted, fished and thrived in this area for so long. The park was obtained by special deed in 1969 and by buying another 121 acres in 1970. It opened in May of 1970, and is 860 acres; named so because of the many unique rock formations, natural rock basins that are called "huecos"; that were able to hold vast amounts of rain water for those that traveled by here. The pictographs are especially fantastic and thoroughly interesting, since they were put here by archaic hunters, foragers, Mescalero Apaches and other Native Americans. These odd mythical designs, human and animal figures that were painted on the rocks has been intrigued scientists for decades. Many of the most prominent, that include over 200 face designs or masks, were drawn here by the prehistoric Jomada Mogollon culture long long ago. This was also the site of the last Indian battle that took place in the county; with Kiowas, Apaches and other earlier tribes camping here and living a picture of their exploits and adventures. The tanks were also used by the Butterfield Overland Mail Route for watering their horses and passengers. The park interpretive center is housed in a historic ranch that was here, as well as a remnant of an old stage coach station. There is rock climbing, nature studies, camping, hiking, picnicking, bird watching, and of course the wonderful opportunity to study the prehistoric and historic pictographs that are located here, as well as fantastic stargazing in the nights, guided ranger tours and slide shows to help you decide what and where you want to travel and explore. There are campsites here with water and/or electricity, walk-in picnic sites, restrooms with or without showers, marvelous hiking trails, the interpretive center and an amphitheater.

January 11, 2011