Hiking The Franklin Mountains & Hueco Tanks State Park February 10th

Ft Bliss is home to magnificent mountain ranges which offer a large array of hiking and biking trails.  Now I know what you are thinking, isn’t Ft Bliss in the desert, aren’t the summers extreme?  The answer is yes, but with mild winters now if the perfect time to get out for a hike, a ride or, for the thrill seekers, rock climbing.  Ft Bliss is located at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains which includes Franklin Mountain State Park and Hueco Tanks State Park (pronounced wayco tanks).

Franklin Mountain State Park https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/franklin-mountains consists of 27,000 acres including over 100 miles of hiking trails. Whether you are expert hiker or lacing up your boots for the first time there is a trail for you.  Wyler Aerial Tramway has a mile-long trail which ends at Ranger Peak.  Once hikers reach the peak they are rewarded with breathtaking views of El Paso, New Mexico and Mexico.  Imagine viewing two states and two countries all at once!

The park also features a tramway ride in a gondola to the peak for a small fee.  Looking for rock climbing, McKelligon Canyon is a perfect place to practice your skills on the canyon walls.  They also have an open amphitheater which host events in the summer and fall.  Visit our blog closer to summer for all the details!  The state park has four entrances in each part of town so no matter where you are you have quick access to the trails.  There is a small entrance fee of $5.00.  The park hosts guides tours throughout the month including peak fitness hikes, women’s only hikes and hikes to historic sites such as the Aztec Cave and Prospect Copper Mine.  Guided hikes require reservations which can be made by contacting the park office at (915) 566-6441.

Hueco Tanks State Park https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/hueco-tanks is located just 32 miles northeast of El Paso.  The park has trails for all abilities from family friendly to strenuous.  Not only does Hueco Tanks have beautiful hiking trails, this park also gives visitors a glimpse into the past with pictographs and petroglyphs left by at least three different cultures.  The entry fee is $9.00 for anyone 13 and over, $2.00 for ages 5-12.  There is a short informational video which everyone must view before entering the park.  As part of the Texas State Park and Wildlife system, Hueco Tanks also offers guided tours throughout the month including a Roots to Fruits hike which shows hikers how the ancient people thrived in the desert.  The park also offers world-class rock climbing for adventurous climbers.  Due to the fragile nature of the ancient history in the park, visitors are limited so be sure to reserve a spot early.  Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance.  To make reservations call (512) 389-8911.

When planning your hiking trip be sure to wear good footwear, use sun protection, pack lots of water and a few snacks.  Stay on the trails and be aware of local wildlife. To find out more about Texas’s State Parks visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/.