EL PASO—Today, Franklin Mountains State Park is breaking ground on the new park visitor center, kicking off the start of construction for the first facility to be built inside the state park since its establishment in 1979.
Franklin Mountains State Park is perfectly positioned to provide citizens to one of America’s great cities with extraordinary access to the outdoors,” says Texas State Parks Director Brent Leisure. “We are excited to finally break ground on this long-awaited visitor center which will welcome and orient thousands of park visitors for generations to come.”
Attendees to this morning’s groundbreaking event had a chance to hear from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff, local officials and see artistic renderings of the new visitor center. Speakers at the event included Sen. José Rodriguez, Rep. Joe Moody, Texas State Parks Director Brent Leisure, TPWD Infrastructure Director Jessica Davisson and Franklin Mountains State Park Superintendent Cesar Mendez.
“Constructing a visitor center within the nation’s largest urban wilderness park has been a central goal for many years and we are getting closer to accomplishing it, says Mendez. This new facility will be a great gift to Franklin Mountains State Park and the local community.
Soon to be located on the western slopes of the mountains in the park’s Tom Mays Unit, the visitor center will house the park’s administrative space and public space both indoors and outdoors. Exhibits in the new facility will include interpretive material covering the natural and cultural history of the mountains and the park, as well as orientation on the park’s trails, facilities and activities for park visitors. Additionally, there will be a large classroom building to host presentations and educational/interpretive programs for school groups, meetings and gatherings.
“For the past 18 years, the park’s headquarters have been located outside of the state park,” says Mendez. “We envision this brand-new facility enhancing tremendously the access to the park and the visitor experiences, as well as improving the overall park operations. This important project was possible thanks to the invaluable support from the local community and state leadership.”
The almost 27,000-acre park has more than 130 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for visitors to recreate. The Tom Mays Unit is the only area within the park with picnic sites, campsites, and composting restrooms. North Franklin Peak, located at an elevation of 7,192 feet over sea level is the highest point on the mountain range. Also located within the park are small natural springs that offer an oasis for animals and park visitors in the desert landscape.
For more information about Franklin Mountains State Park, visit the parks’ webpage.