EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso is blessed to have one of the largest urban wilderness areas in the world within its city limits.
But Franklin Mountains State Park, with nearly 27,000 acres of protected wilderness and 150 miles of trails, is often overlooked or taken for granted by many El Pasoans.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, the rangers at the park want the community to come out and visit for the first time or rediscover the magic of the park.
Photos by Sebastian Esquivel/KTSM
To that end, the park will host “Explore the Outdoors Day” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Tom Mays Unit of the park, off Trans Mountain road in El Paso’s Northwest.
Park admission will be free all day and is good for all areas of the park.
But the special activities and events will be concentrated at the Tom Mays Unit.
“Really the whole point of it is to get people outside and enjoying the outdoors,” said Lydia Pagel, interpretive ranger for Franklin Mountains State Park. “Secondly, we want to give people the opportunity to learn what there is to do at the park. This year, our focus is on trails. We will be focusing on hiking, biking, all that stuff you can do on trails.”
This is the first time the park has hosted this event and it is part of the Texas State Parks system’s centennial celebration, but there are plans to continue it in future years, Pagel said.
There will be five areas of activities scattered around the Tom Mays Unit, including a section called “Explore More” where you can talk to park rangers from around the region and plan your next outdoor adventure.
Activities will including biking, guided hikes, photography and art projects.
“A number of different organizations will be talking to people about different activities, doing guided bike rides, guided hikes, all that sort of stuff,” Pagel said. “It should be a lot of fun.”
Pagel advises that you start the day off by dropping by the park’s new visitors center. There, you can check out a map which will have the different activity areas marked off.
They will also have a free shuttle service available that day. You can park your car, jump on the shuttle and go around the park that way, Pagel said.
“How many times do you hear people say, ‘There is nothing to do in El Paso.’ We have one of the largest urban wilderness areas in the world. No matter where you are in El Paso, you are probably pretty close to one of the trailheads,” Pagel said.
“We always want to introduce more El Pasoans to our park facilities, which are sometimes taken for granted,” Pagel said. “People use the mountain to orient themselves when they are driving, but they don’t know how to get out here and explore.”
Explore the Outdoors Day is meant to introduce people to the park or get them to rediscover it.
“If you haven’t been out in a long time, it is time for you to fall in love with the outdoors again,” Pagel said. “Come on out and check it out.”
Food trucks will be on-site selling their wares, adding to the fun.
But Pagel wants visitors to remember to bring plenty of water — after all it is the desert — and to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
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