The El Paso Zoo is an eighteen-acre home to more than 600 animals of over 250 species in a variety of natural habitat exhibits including a Reptile House, South American Pavilion, Americas Aviary, Paraje, Birds of Prey, American Biome, Forest Atrium, Asian Grasslands, Asian Endangered Walk, and an Elephant Complex.
The Centennial Museum is an academic support and outreach unit of the University of Texas at El Paso focusing on the natural history and the indigenous, colonial, pre-urban, and folk cultures of the border regions of southwestern United States and Mexico. It promotes and shares knowledge and understanding of the natural and cultural diversity of the region and its peoples. The Museum meets its responsibilities through the presentation and curation of the permanent collections and by scholarly research. It also presents programs that promote the more general mission of the University of Texas at El Paso.
Driving the paved road that snakes up the east side of the Franklin Mountains from the intersection of McKinley and Alabama streets is half the fun. The visitor arrives at a parking area that sits at an elevation of 4,692 feet. The view of El Paso, to the east, is magnificent. Here visitors can admire the beauty of cacti gardens or watch the tramway gondolas take off.
Visitors can purchase tickets at the tramway station to ride a gondola that will transport them to the top of Ranger Peak. The Swiss made gondolas travel on a 2,600 feet long, 1 3/8 inch diameter steel cable. While waiting to depart, the visitor can view part of the machinery and mechanism of the system through a window located on the south side of the base station. On the smooth ride to the top, the cabin attendant will describe the different cacti and rock formations along the way. Abundant wildlife, including reptiles, birds and insects, offer exciting viewing opportunities. The 4 minute ride soars above a vast canyon that is 240 feet deep in some places.
From Ranger Peak, 5,632 feet above sea level, the visitor can enjoy the view of 7,000 square miles encompassing three states and two nations. The tramway ride is a memorable experience offering a vista of the vastness and stark beauty of the southwest.
A unique legacy of lively and fantastic rock paintings greets the visitor at the "tanks." From Archaic hunters and foragers of thousands of years ago to relatively recent Mescalero Apaches, Native Americans have drawn strange mythological designs and human and animal figures on the rocks of the area. The site's notable pictographs also include more than 200 face designs or "masks" left by the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture. Hueco Tanks was the site of the last Indian battle in the county. Apaches, Kiowas, and earlier Indian groups camped here and left behind pictographs telling of their adventures. These tanks served as watering places for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route.
Many hiking trails are currently accessible off of Loop 375/Trans-Mountain Road. Work is underway for a trail network that will ultimately offer a 118-mile network. All 118 miles will be open to hiking traffic, 51 miles will be open to hiking and mountain biking traffic, and 22 miles will be open for tri-use - hiking, mountain bikes, and horseback riding. In the future, the park will consider having a concessionaire who can rent horses, but for now, the horse trails that open in Fall of 2001 will be for individuals who have their own horses. Rock climbing and mountain bike riding are just two of the park's newest recreational activities.