Palo Duro Canyon, 120 miles long, 800' deep

Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unbelievable! We drove into the park and discovered that the limo driver at Big Texan was right, Palo Duro Canyon should not be missed. From what he said and the literature we read at the visitor's center, this is the 2nd largest canyon in the US. It is 800 feet deep and 120 miles long. In the 1870s it was inhabited by members of the Kiowa, Commanche and Cheyenne tribes. Geologists have come up with the age of the deepest exposed section being 250 million years old and the visitor's center has prehistoric and native artifacts on display. How come we had never heard or read about this place?

Unlike the Grand Canyon, one of the coolest things about this state park is that you can drive all the way down to the bottom. The park ranger told us to be careful going down the road into the canyon since it has a 12% grade, but we just kept quiet and said we would take it easy. After the past month or so, Jodie and I are used to 25% + grades, so 12% sounded like a picnic. We cruised down into the canyon in 4th and then 3rd gear without any stress.

The park ranger was very nice and appreciated hearing that we were originally from NY. She picked out a nice wooded site for us and we were not disappointed. Within 10 minutes of pulling in, a few female wild turkeys walked over to check us out. Then a big male came by, showed off his feathers and started gobble gobbling for us......what a welcome.

A heat wave was hitting the park and it was 101 degrees in the shade. We decided to take showers, chill out in the RV and wait until 6:00 to go out for a bike ride. After our showers we chose to tour the park in the airconditioned RV while waiting for the cooler part of the day. The drive is around 10 miles long and goes through different camping areas, hiking pull offs, outdoor theaters and scenic pull offs. Rather than trying to describe what we saw, check out the pictures (which do not do it justice).

We biked the 10 miles of roads and a mile or so of off road trails before heading back for dinner. When we got back, we encountered black faced deer, a red eyed devil rabbit and more turkeys. It has been very dry for months, so no fires were allowed...bummer.

The temperature dropped from 101 to 70 degrees within 1 hour of sunset, that is some extreme drop. The evening temperature was a comfortable 60 degrees and we slept well.

As we were leaving for New Mexico, we were driving up the road out of the park when Jodie spotted a cactus in bloom. I pulled over so she could take some pictures of the flowers and an area of road repair that made from gabions (wire baskets filled with stones)shoring up the side of the mountain road. It looked as if the road had washed out some time ago and they chose to fix it with gabions. We had used gabions at our old home on Whaley Lake and seeing them in this setting was another show of their strength.

This park was such a surprise that we never would have experienced if I hadn't been friendly to the limo driver walking though the parking lot. It just reinforces how your life can be enriched by talking to strangers (sometimes).
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whaleyqt on

The Canyon
Hey Guys:

My very first vacation as a kid was to see my uncle in Borger TX, He took us to the Canyon, I willnever forget it, y first vacation and first tram ride. I loved the lizards!

Stay Warm!



Gerald Lane Summers on

Palo Duro Canyon should not be missed by anyone wanting to see the natural wonders of the U.S. The problem is that until he you get right on top of it, you don't know its there. The Texas panhandle, known as the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain, seems as flat as a pancake, but it gradually rises from south to north by almost 3500 feet.
I have just written a novel, "Mobley's Law, A Mobley Meadows Novel,' much of which takes place in the panhandle and in Palo Duro Canyon. The Comanche Indians used Palo Duro as their wintering area, for the canyon protected them from harsh winter storms. You can find my novel on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for the promotion price of .99 cents on Kindle, or $15.00 for a soft back book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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