El Paso is home to the University of Texas at El Paso (founded in 1914 as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy). Fort Bliss, a major United States Army installation, lies to the east and northeast of the city, extending north up to the White Sands Missile Range. The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and nearly divide the city into two sections, with downtown connecting the two sections at the south end of the mountain range.
El Paso is located at 31°47′25″N 106°25′24″W (31.790208, -106.423242). It lies at the intersection of three states (Texas, New Mexico, and Chihuahua) and two countries (the USA and Mexico). It is the only major Texas city on Mountain Time. When Ciudad Juárez was on Central Time, it was possible to celebrate New Year's twice in the same evening by travelling a very short distance across the state and into another country. Both cities are now on Mountain Time.
The city's elevation is 3,800 feet (1140 m) above sea level. The rustic North Franklin Peak towers at 7,192 feet (2,192 m) above sea level and is the highest peak in the city. The peak can be seen from 60 miles (97 km) in all directions. Additionally, this mountain range is home to the famous natural red-clay formation, the Thunderbird, from which the local Coronado High School gets its mascot's name. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 250.5 square miles (648.9 km²).
The 24,000-acre (97 km2) Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the United States and resides entirely in El Paso, extending from the north and neatly dividing the city into several sections along with Fort Bliss and the El Paso International Airport.
The Rio Grande Rift, which passes around the southern end of the Franklin Mountains, is where the Rio Grande River flows. The river defines the border between El Paso from Ciudad Juárez to the south and west until the river turns north of the border with Mexico, separating El Paso from Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Mt. Cristo Rey, a volcanic peak (an example of a pluton) rises within the Rio Grande Rift just to the west of El Paso on the New Mexico side of the Rio Grande River. Other volcanic features include Kilbourne hole and Hunt's hole, which are Maar volcanic craters 30 miles (50 km) west of the Franklin Mountains.
El Paso is surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert, the easternmost section of the Basin and Range Region.
Snow on Franklin Mountain & El Paso causes a closure of Transmountain Highway
El Paso has an arid, warm climate (Koppen climate classification BWh) with very hot summers (with little or no humidity) and mild, dry winters.
Temperatures range from an average high of 55 F (13 °C) and an average low of 28 °F (−2 °C) in January to an average high of 97 °F (36 °C ) in June and an average low of 68 °F (20 °C) in August.
The city's record high is 114 °F (45.5 °C), and its record low is −8 °F (−22 °C).
The sun shines 302 days per year on average in El Paso, 83 percent of daylight hours, according to the El Paso Weather Bureau. It is from this that the city is nicknamed "The Sun City." The natives find the weather attractive though temperatures can reach 100+ °F.
Rainfall averages 8.74 inches (223 mm) per annum, most of which occurs during the summer from July through September and is predominantly caused by monsoonal flow from the Gulf of California. During this period, winds originate more from the south to southeast direction and carry moisture from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico into the region. As this moisture moves into the El Paso area (and many other areas in the southwest), a combination of orographic uplift from the mountains, and daytime heating from the sun, causes thunderstorms to develop across the region (some of which can be severe, producing flash flooding, hail and possible tornadoes). This is what causes most of the rain in the El Paso area.
El Paso, at 3,800 feet (1,200 m) elevation, is also capable of snow; and has produced over a foot of snow on many occasions. In 1980, three major snowstorms produced over a foot of snow; one in February, another in April and the last one in December, producing a white Christmas for the city. A major snowstorm in December 1987 dumped nearly two feet of snow.
Official weather records for El Paso have been kept by the National Weather Service since 1879.