Friday, April 12, 2013

Palo Duro Canyon - The Grand Canyon of Texas

Palo Duro Canyon, called the Grand Canyon of Texas, is a marvelous place to visit. It's just south of Amarillo about 40 miles. Palo Duro means "hard wood" in named because of the mesquite and juniper trees in the canyon.

Once, when we were flying from Denver to Dallas, our plane made a stop in Amarillo, then took off east towards Dallas. I was looking out the window at the flat plains and circle crop formations when, all of a sudden, this huge canyon came into view. I was amazed ("Where did THAT come from?") and looked it up in a map when we landed. That was the Palo Duro Canyon.

Palo Duro Canyon is approximately 120 miles long and 600 to 800 feet deep and is the second largest canyon in the United States. The canyon was formed less than 1 million years ago when the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River first carved its way through the Southern High Plains. The rocks expose a geologic story which began approximately 250 million years ago, layer by layer revealing a panoramic view of magnificent color. 

The canyon’s archeological and ethnological treasures suggest about twelve thousand years of human habitation, rising and waning as climate varied among periods of abundant moisture, aridity, and sometimes fearfully severe drought.

This was a great experience for us (and different) in that we were camping in a park. Usually, our stays are in RV Parks...all bunched together. But this one was like our old days with tents and space galore between the sites. Of course, we were all nestled in our motorhome and not exposed to those nasty elements...but, you get the was a very peaceful, restful place to "camp" for four days.

View from the visitors center before descending into the canyon.

Our campsite, which is the farthest one in the canyon, is beyond that last bend to the right....then the canyon itself goes on for another 100 miles.

View from inside the visitors center looking down the length of the canyon. 

Obviously, there is a lot of geologic strata to look at.

Terrific mineral display showing both the kinds of stones along with a vertical timeline.

This is called Satin Spar Gypsum...gorgeous.

Our hike through the canyon floor that went by the geologic rocks.

Ocotillo plant....with long nasty thorns.

What a fashion statement...with the cool hiking garb!....especially the hat.

Check out those skinny white legs!

Kim kept trying to take a photo of the rocks without that darn hiker getting in the picture all the time!
Seriously, look at the layers of gypsum.

We had great weather....lower 80s BUT....a cold front came in one morning while we were outside having our coffee....the wind started to pick up and we saw this coming in our direction....

Sure enough, it got windy....25 to 30 mph with 40 mph gusts...and COLD..... We spent the day inside doing inside stuff.....filing, going over paperwork, cleaning....

I came outside Tuesday morning to find snow flurries...

Had to disconnect our water hoses at night so they wouldn't freeze. I could not turn the water lever at 8am....still frozen.

0 degrees with the wind chill factor!, it was cold!

The cold front lasted the rest of our stay there (two and a half more days) but I got out one day for a solitary hike and found this scenery around me.

Had to climb on top of the coach to take a photo looking down the goes another 100 miles from here.

...and one up the canyon....

At sunset from the top....with my LSU cap....what a ham.

We did not see many animals...some deer, no rabbits...but we saw this turkey roaming around our campsite.
This is one happy couple. (Oh, we got new hats while we were we're official-looking hikers!)

You would never know the canyon is there because everything around it is flat, flat, flat.

A real treat to visit...glad we got to spend a few days inside the Palo Duro Canyon.

Kim and Steve


  1. You got some great pictures Steve! Paula and I were there in 2010 and thought it was really pretty also.

  2. Thank was so peaceful without any cell coverage or internet.