Yes, you heard me right. El Paso is beautiful. It’s all about perspective.
The Chihuahuan Desert offers sandy valleys with a backdrop of rocky mountains and the occasional oasis. We recently had a chance to visit two spectacular and easy to access outdoor areas, the Wyler Aerial Tramway and McKelligon Canyon both located in the Franklin Mountains about 10 minutes from downtown El Paso. The tramway is $7 per person to ride a tram to about 5,500 feet or bring your hiking boots and lots of water and hike up for free. This time we chose to ride. The view was amazing and included El Paso, Mexico, New Mexico, Fort Bliss, the Rio Grande, and everything in between. The ride only takes four minutes to the top where there is a gift shop and plenty of viewing areas. Next time, pack a lunch and have a picnic up high!
Located about two minutes from the tramway is McKelligon Canyon. We arrived at the canyon late (about 6:30pm) to meet a friend to do some climbing. The canyon has some amazing walls to climb, but due to the time we chose the closest one. As the sun went down the canyon got dark very fast and next thing we knew we had to hike out in the dark! But I was prepared and brought a headlamp and boy did it pay off because I SAW A RINGTAIL! Yes, I did my masters research mainly on ringtails so I have held them, caught them, etc etc but it has been a long time since I have seen one and they are the cutest and coolest animal ever! Ringtails are in the same family as raccoons but very different. They are extremely agile and inhabit steep cliff faces denning in cracks and crevices and weigh less than five pounds. I will dig around my old computer files and find my ringtail pictures and post them soon.
You can tell it is getting DARK! The gate closes at 10pm so we had to rush to make it out before we were locked in.
Oh and one more tidbit of info: Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the nation!