Riding high on the Wyler Aerial Tramway Texas

I can’t get the first words of that Marty Robbins song out of my head: ”Out in the West Texas town of El Paso…….”, but from there I vary it, because close to El Paso, in what is known as Big Bend Country, is the Franklin Mountains State Park.

And it is at Franklin Mountains State Park that you will find a cable car called the Wyler Aerial Tramway, which is operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  Although the cable car was built in 1959, it was closed for several years, re-opening in 1997 after it was willed to the State of Texas for public use.

There’s little problem getting there as 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 (and the Swiss really do know how to make mountain equipment) 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 help your understanding of the area by describing the different cacti and rock formations that you will see along the way. Despite the harshness of the surrounding countryside, the area actually has abundant wildlife, including reptiles, birds and insects, which 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 (Texas, New Mexico and Arizona ) and two nations (The United States and Mexico). The tramway ride is a memorable experience that offers a vista of the vastness and of the stark beauty of the southwest.

Once passengers arrive at the station at the top of the peak, there are accessible ramps and paved grounds which lead into an observation deck which boasts a 360 degree view. And, if you wish to see the terrain in much more detail, there are pay per view high power telescopes through which you can enhance your experience.

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