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.
This museum located on the eponymous military base pays homage to the United States 1st Armored Division, more affectionately known as 'Old Ironsides'. The first division in WWII to encounter enemy fire. Today, the museum exhibits artifacts about this unit which include weaponry, historical accounts, patches, etc. Additionally, if you have the time, visit the replica Old Fort Bliss located on the same property. Admission is free, however you must have identification to enter the base.
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 El Paso Zoo, though modest in size and means, aims to preserve and conserve as many species as possible. The 18-acre (7.28-hectare) grounds feature hundreds of different species, from Amur leopards, Asian elephants, Sumatran Orangutans, alligators, and a host of fish and birds. In the morning the tiny tykes can meet sea lions, and on the African Star train, kids can get a really close look at some of the smaller animals, like the African hedgehog or an opossum. Every autumn the zoo puts on a two-day Elephant Festival. Don't miss it!
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.
Also called the Plaza de los Lagartos, San Jacinto Plaza lies at the heart of El Paso's historic downtown district. In fact, the name lagartos roughly translates into "alligator" and at one time there were actual live alligators in a pond that was once here. When the park was established, the owners created a large area for these crocodilians, however they were removed finally in 1975 due to vandals harming them. Today, the plaza pays homage to the alligators in the form of a sculpture which replaced the pond. In December, the plaza hosts the official Christmas Tree Lighting and during the rest of the year, the shade under the trees provides ample refuge from the Southwest heat.
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.
The Chamizal National Memorial, with its large park, museum, gallery and a spacious amphitheater, is a vibrant multi-functional hot spot for culturally diverse events and activities. The museum educates visitors on the 1963 settling of the US-Mexico border dispute and the amphitheater hosts the annual Siglo de Oro Drama Festival. In addition to educational opportunities, the park also offers recreational activities such as picnicking, hiking, and birdwatching. The park's trails wind through desert landscapes and provide opportunities for visitors to observe local flora and fauna.