I found driving through the Texas panhandle (the northwestern region) pretty depressing.
It’s flat, dry (uber-dry having suffered from years of drought) and loaded with economic bust-towns.
Drive long enough however and you’ll find the Palo Duro Canyon surprise.
On entering Palo Duro Canyon State Park you drop 800 feet into the canyon and the scenery is absolutely beautiful.
Ed and I did the Lighthouse trail, a 6 mile round trip, there-and-back route which was just lovely. The Lighthouse trail refers to the Lighthouse geological structure found at the end of the trail. It is a stone pillar structure that is distinct enough to be the emblem of Palo Duro State Park.
The trail description reads the difficulty as ‘moderate’. Despite the rolling hills, Ed and I, 62 and 52 respectively found the trail ‘easy’ on an autumn day with the temperature around 68.
Early Spanish Explorers are believed to have discovered the area and dubbed the canyon “Palo Duro” which is Spanish for “hard wood” in reference to the abundant mesquite and juniper trees.
The Canyon is 120 miles long, as much as 20 miles wide, and has a maximum depth of more than 800 feet. Its elevation at the rim is 3,500 feet above sea level. It is often claimed that Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. The largest, the Grand Canyon, is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft. deep.
We camped in the park for 2 nights and during that time were surprised – no, dismayed – to see idiots chasing and trying to feed the white tail deer. They obviously have no clue what damage a stray hoof can do.
The other idiocy was seeing a teeny tiny dog left alone on a leash at the campsite while the owners left to go hiking – despite the fact that every camper is warned about the bobcat in the Hackberry camp loop. Moreover, our neighbours across the way showed us pictures of that bobcat in their site as they arrived. I’m just glad that poor little pup survived their owners idiocy for another day.
Boots Gibson says
Sounds like you are having a great trip–I love those surprising destinations in this great country. There’s another canyon in Colorado close to Montrose that a friend took me to. I don’t remember the name of it, but standing on the rim it looks as big as the Grand Canyon, but seems to be known mostly to the locals.
Back in my late teens, in the early ’60s, I decided to take an afternoon drive. I think it was in July. My father was an avid outdoors-man, camper, hunter, fisherman, etc. So I was used to being out in the Nevada desert. There was a new park that was just being developed in the foothills west of Las Vegas where we lived, so few people knew about it, and had a natural spring and “lake” (more of pond) year round in a boxed canyon. I usually had a sleeping bag in the car and decided to just sleep beside the car until dawn and head back to town–it was supposed to be a full moon night..
Not long after dark and before moon rise, I could hear scuffling noises near the pond.which was on my left–the other side of the car from where I had stretched out on the sleeping bag. Then I heard a low growl to my right, turned my head slowly to see a pair of yellow-green eyes about 4-6 feet from me. Every hair on my body stood up and I instinctively froze. She let out a larger growl and leaped. She jumped clear over me and landed on the hood of the car and went over to her kits by the pond. After a few breaths–I realized I had pulled up between her and her kits when she was hunting. I never saw her or the kits, it was still too dark, but guessing from the paw prints on the hood she was either a large bobcat or a mountain lion. I knew we had both in the area, but they usually avoid people so much you rarely see them.
i just stayed very still until I could no longer hear them, and then I was able to relax, the moon came up and it was a beautiful and fairly quiet night–the rest of the critters in the area were much smaller and made smaller sounds! Through the years I have had other encounters with nature, but that was the closest.
Still love the outdoors and have been a full time RVer for 9 years and counting, but prefer sleeping on a mattress now. The ground got harder as I got older!