In El Paso the Franklin mountains are a constant presence, looming in the distance. The Franklin Mountain State Park is actually the largest urban park in the nation--that's 37 miles of desert and mountains, all within the El Paso city limits.
Once you're on the one small road that goes into the mountains, the mental distance from the city is immediate. Dave kept asking, are you sure it's okay to be on this road? Are we going to see any banditos crossing over from Mexico? (He was obsessed with banditos!) But it's totally legit--the road dead ends at the parking area for the Ron Coleman trail (above), which we decided to try out. The goal was to reach the cave off in the distance, which seemed much closer than it actually was in reality.
Along the way we encountered many varieties of cactus: prickly pear
and ocotillo (my favorite--I love the spiny tentacle-like stems).
I think the spiky looking bushes are yucca plants.
I love the texture of the ground we were walking on.
We made it! The cave (really more of a little indentation in the rock) was covered in graffiti. On the way back down we passed by a few people with beer (technically illegal). This place must be a pretty sweet late night drinking and makeout spot (definitely saw some signs of this...) for El Paso teens. Not much else to do on a Friday night.
The view from up top. You can kind of see the city past the mountain but it definitely feels pretty far removed.