Franklin Mountains State Park to Grow By Almost 1,700 Acres
AUSTIN, Texas — The largest urban wilderness park in the continental United States — Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso — is destined to grow even bigger as a result of action taken Thursday by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Commissioners directed the executive director to take steps necessary for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to acquire roughly 1,670 acres in two separate tracts from the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board to add to the 24,247-acre state park. The 80th Texas Legislature required TPWD to acquire the additional park land and allocated $162,000 for that purpose.
The larger piece of new real estate, a 1,470-acre tract adjacent to the Castner Range, would expand the Franklin Mountains State Park boundary at the northeastern corner of the park. The smaller 200-acre tract on the western side of the Franklins would provide the state park some protection against pending development in the southwestern corner of the park.
“At the end of the day, the property acquisition will give us a buffer between previous state park boundaries and pending development areas,” says John Moses, director of El Paso’s state park complex that includes Franklin Mountains State Park. “The buffer zone on the east side of the mountain will be where we’ll put trailheads that will connect new communities in northeast El Paso with the park.”
Franklin Mountains State Park is the United State’s largest urban park, being entirely located within the city limits of El Paso. The state park offers rock climbing, mountain biking, primitive overnight camping, picnicing and guided tours.