Saturday, November 19, 2011

McKelligon Canyon and Scenic Drive

We played tourist for a few hours this afternoon in El Paso, Texas. Although I grew up here and have returned many times in the years since I left at age 18, it’s been many years since I visited these two spots.

Just the name McKelligon Canyon brings back fond memories from my childhood of picnicking and hiking here. The canyon is now part of the Franklin Mountains State Park. The web site reports that developers were encroaching on pristine areas of Mount Franklin, so in 1979 the Texas Legislature passed a bill to protect the mountains. I was very glad to see the canyon pretty much the same as I remember it from my youth.

The picnic areas have been updated and enlarged. Note the cave in the background.


The Ron Coleman Trail leads to the cave and beyond, for those who want to hike the entire 3.5 miles along the top of the mountains.


Some hikers explored the shallow cave.


The Visitor Center was constructed in typical rock-wall style.


However, it’s closed on Sat-Sun so we weren’t able to visit. Too bad they don’t open on weekends when people usually have time off from work, and close on other days of the week.


An amphitheatre has been built, with a full schedule of performances. It was closed, too.


The old Pavilion is still there and is used for performances, too.


There are some nice vistas from the canyon. The large building on the left is William Beaumont Army Hospital, where one of my nieces was born 52 years ago. (Cloud cover made the rest of my pictures a bit hazy.)


The next part of our tour was Scenic Drive.


The drive snakes around the south end of Mt. Franklin and offers lots of scenic views of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico further to the south.


The Border Highway and the (currently) dry Rio Grande can be seen here, with Juarez on the other side. I grew up in the lower valley, not far from the US-Mexico border in a community called Lakeside.


With a population of about 800,000, El Paso stretches far and wide.


Downtown El Paso with Juarez in the background.


The city’s Police Academy is nestled in the side of the mountain.


Mt. Cristo Rey can be seen in the distance to the northwest, with its characteristic cross on top.


This mountain has a very interesting history, and is in Sunland Park, New Mexico, best known for the horse racing track, established in 1959 when I still lived in El Paso. In early 1964 my parents moved to the upper valley north of the park, and I continued attending high school in the lower valley for a few months to finish my senior year, commuting past the heavy traffic on Friday afternoons. There was no freeway then! The casino was added in 1999. It’s debatable whether Sunland Park, NM is actually within the geographical city limits of El Paso, TX, since there’s a shared zip code. The mountain, race track and casino are on the border of two countries and three states.

Driving through a historic district back to our motorhome at the Ft. Bliss FamCamp, I caught a quick picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, with a cornerstone date of July 7, 1929. Before I was born, my parents and older siblings lived not far from this area.


This was a pleasant visit that brought back some good memories for me, and showed Don some parts of El Paso that he hadn’t seen. Still, I don’t regret leaving El Paso to live in various other places, that now allow me to see and appreciate the area from a different perspective.


  1. Nice to see El Paso from your perspective. I stayed in Las Cruces for 6 weeks for soils training in 2002 and avoided the obligatory trip to El Paso to cross the border into Mexico.

  2. Nice pics! You must be glad to be on the road again!

  3. Thanks for the tour and pics of El Paso. We drove through a few years ago but didn't stop there so it was nice to see some of the sights.


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