Located on the southernmost tip of the state of Texas, the Franklin Mountains State Park stands at an elevation of 5,426 feet (1,653.84 meters) overlooking the semi-arid expanses of El Paso. Encompassed by the dominant Franklin Mountains, the park offers a virtually never-ending selection of mountain biking, hiking, climbing and cross country driving options. The territory covers nearly 24,247 acres (9,812.41 hectares) and is America's most expansive park within a city's limit. Wildlife includes barrel cactus, Mexican poppy, hackberry, cottonwood, golden eagles, black bears, pumas and ring-tailed cats.
The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center was established in 1994 by Henry Kellen, a Holocaust survivor. It is an ode to the millions of people who died and to those who endured. This museum presents the atrocities committed during the end of World War II as a grim reminder of hatred and prejudice. Visitors can get a glimpse of that time with the multi-media presentations that cover life before the Third Reich, the subsequent rise of the regime, the concentration camps and more. Admission is free though donations are welcome.
The historic Magoffin Home today houses a vast collection of Magoffin family artifacts used at the end of the 19th Century. On display guests will find furniture, decorative art and other interesting historical resources from this important El Pasoan clan. Built in 1875, the site still retains an old Texas charm with its period furniture and paintings. The site has become an integral part of the city's rich history as well as a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, the Texas Historical Commission manages the site and owns the belongings inside.
The EPMA has been going strong since 1959, providing the city and surrounding area with countless aesthetic delights. About 100,000 visitors come through the doors of the museum annually, to see some of the many temporary exhibits in the well-designed halls and galleries, as well as more than 5,000 permanent artworks. The majority of art focuses on Native American, Mexican and European pieces. The museum offers numerous education programs to enhance one's knowledge and even has it's own art school.
In the midst of the scenic Franklin Mountains lies the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre, a venue that holds over 1,500 spectators. The theater hosts a number of events throughout the year, from plays and concerts to dance and opera, there is something for all ages. During the summer, the amphitheater presents its 'Cool Canyon Nights' series, it's free to public and always a nice entertainment option in the hot desert. See website for upcoming activities and a complete calendar of events.
The only museum of its kind in the country, the U.S. Border Patrol Museum has more fascinating artifacts and exhibits on this branch of the military than you might think is possible. From photographs to documents to guns and vehicles, the museum is a wealth of patriotic memorabilia. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted. The museum provides guided tours upon advanced request.
This 42 foot tall statue of Christ atop what used to be called 'Mule Drivers Mountain' (now Mount Cristo Rey) is a monument to those in the Catholic faith. Its location at an elevation of 4,675-ft. and the accompanying 4.4-mile trail (round-trip) is constantly traversed by hikers, the curious and almost everybody else who is in the area. Its original conception came from a parish priest who erected a wooden cross here in 1934. Thereafter in 1939, the church commissioned sculptor Urbici Soler to design the base and statue. And though the face on the statue resembles the one on the famous Corcovado in Brazil, this one is quite smaller and little less scenic, however once you reach the top, you can see into Mexico, New Mexico and Texas at the same time.
This historical home that once belonged to famed El Pasoan Richard Burges today provides information about the development of the city and county. The building in classic Revival style is an architectural anomaly in the Southwest, yet it is an attraction in its own right. Today, the home houses the El Paso Historical Society office and guests are encouraged to visit and learn more about why this man was so important to the city's people, not just in politics, construction and other endeavors, but in ecological preservation as well. In fact, Burges played an instrumental part in the development and conservation of the famed Carlsbad Caverns.
At the southern rim of the Franklin Mountains, this scenic drive provides magnificent views of El Paso as well as into Mexico. The drive begins at Alabama Street in the east and runs for approximately four-miles until you exit near the University of Texas-El Paso. When you reach the midway point, the scenic overlook with parking allows you to get out of the car and take some pics. It doesn't matter when you make the trip, day or night, it is one of the highlights of this desert city.