Franklin Mountains State Park

If you’re looking for affordable fun and have a need to reconnect with nature, then you don’t have to travel too far in El Paso thanks to the Franklin Mountains State Park. 

“Visitors are attracted to the park because the desert provides a sense of solitude and a particular connection with nature,” said park superintendent Cesar Mendez. 

The park is over 20,000 square acres – making it the largest urban state park in the country. It contains over 100 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, designated areas for rock climbing, opportunities to look for geo caches (hidden “treasure chests”) and campsites for those that want to rough it in the wild. 

The park also hosts an annual event, the Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta, which takes place September 30. Mendez said the festival’s purpose is to educate people about the desert and reconnect them with nature.

“The event is co-organized by us and the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition, inviting multiple organizations to come together and have exhibits, activities and presentations about nature and the desert,” Mendez said. 

Just remember, the park is an active desert ecosystem with plenty of little critters and birds to watch out for. But don’t worry – the park’s website lists mountain lions as elusive animals.

More info: 1331 McKelligon Canyon Road, 915-566-6441, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/franklin-mountains

Runner-up: Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld –  8804 S. Desert Blvd., 915-886-2222, WetnWildWaterWorld.com

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