Palo Duro canyon

Trip Start Sep 27, 2010
Trip End Mar 23, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Monday, November 22, 2010

Yes – there is another canyon, not just the Grand one in Arizona. There is a great one here in Texas it is the Palo Duro not 30 miles away from us here in Amarillo. In fact it's the reason we came here in the first place. The canyon is a Texas State Park but just a few years ago (well about 120) it was only a part of what became a 1,350,000 acre cattle ranch. This of course was after we had taken it all from the native Indians that previously resided in this spot.

Just have to tell you a little aside, on our drive down to the canyon the last section on the I-27 was a very quiet drive. No other traffic, nice day, open countryside when all of a sudden we hear this whistling – not the type of whistle from the wind more sort of a tune, just a little muffled? Strange sound to have as a warning on engine systems I thought as I checked for any new lights on the dash?? So, logic out of the window we are both looking for a phantom whistler??? I thought he would have to be a very small stowaway to get in under the dash???? Could it be there are speakers out along the highway and they are piping music to us – it was a very nice day????? It stopped, no more nice tuneful but worrying whistle! When we got to the visitor centre I found my phone in my pocket – it's so rare that we get a call I had forgotten the ringtone is a whistle...So, no small people hiding - what a relief - nice whistle though!

The ranch still exists and the canyon is sort of surrounded by it. We paid our day entrance and drove on to the visitor/interpretive centre, we could have actually camped down in the canyon (how neat is that) as there are some great sites down there but we aren’t ready for another spell in the wilderness just yet. After viewing the exhibits that include fossils found here and reading up on the history we continued our drive down and through the bottom of the canyon. There are a number of river crossings and at this time they are very low as we are in drought conditions but toad did enjoy a couple of wet ones - well I did :)

There are loads of picnic areas as well as the campsites and we did a few short walks along dry river beds just trying to imagine the torrents they get during flash floods, at the same time hoping today wasn’t going to get one! You never know though, we had even seen pictures up at the visitors centre of the canyon covered in snow!

I do think we picked the best sited picnic bench to have lunch, up on a super little knoll with views to some grand rock formations.

The highlight trail down here is "The Lighthouse Trail" so having traversed many miles on The Lighthouse Trail over there in Nova Scotia we couldn’t resist walking this namesake. The sign at the start didn’t put us off as we are here in winter so the temp won’t be too bad despite what the thermometer says.

Pretty soon at the start of this trail I could see what I thought was the "lighthouse" and here’s me thinking it was at the end of the hike – but how could we get up there, 'cos we had seen pictures of people standing at its base – and it did look a bit different, more like a monkey sitting at a table?

Ho hum – we followed the trail round the other side of the outcrop that seemed to be like a small mountain draped in a tablecloth of harder rock whilst the underneath was being eroded away. The sun was giving us some fantastic light for photographs, so we took one or two – as we do :)

The trail basically followed the course of dry river beds and maybe just the easiest walk round to the actual “lighthouse” – a hoodoo (formation formed by winds). However towards the end, the trail became very steep with some difficult rock falls to clamber over, Betsy found this quite a struggle and knowing that returning back down these slopes would be a strain on the knees she decided to leave me to complete the final section on my own, though another couple did join me at that point. The very last part is just a little scary as you climb up onto a narrow ledge to work round onto the level “platform” at the base of the incredible Lighthouse hoodoo. In fact both of the other couple didn’t make this last push – he waited whilst she took that stride up onto the ledge – hence I got the picture of me up there…

Returning we only just managed to get back to toad in time to drive out of the park before sunset (closing time – I don’t think they call for last orders though). Sunset itself wasn’t spectacular but the Texas Longhorns kept by the gatehouse were.

Back at Bree and checking out those photo’s Betsy knew she had made the right decision for her not to continue.

Not a “grand” canyon but none the less pretty spectacular.

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myrna King on

Hi there ,
Somehow xmas is almost here. Our landscape is green and just doesn't feel like xmas to me. Wind is blowing a gale here tonight. The weather has been a little wild with the wind and rain lately. Looking forward to a week off in the country to celebrate the holiday. Looking forward to our next visit with you.
Safe travels.
Lov Myrna & Peter

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