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Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Discussion about places West of the Rockies
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bluegreen kayak
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Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Post by bluegreen kayak » Mon May 20, 2019 1:20 pm

I had a free week in April for travel, which wasn't enough to go to Death Valley unfortunately. South Dakota looked too cold, so I visited Palo Duro, which was on my list of places to return to someday (I had been there for an afternoon once). It's about a 12 hour drive for me, so I went there on Sunday and camped through Friday when I drove home. Weather was mostly cooperative; it rained every night, leaving days for hiking, and only became a problem on my last day, Thursday, when the trails were closed for being too wet.

I reserved a campsite, which was important as the park was completely filled most of the week. This is not a place of solitude; the campgrounds and trails are scattered all over the canyon floor, but I knew that going in. I was mostly interested in getting back in shape after being sidelined most of the winter. Some sites are tents only and many are for RVs.

On Monday I did the park's highlight, the Lighthouse Trail, about six miles r/t, which leads to an extremely large hoodoo that does indeed look like a lighthouse. I also took the CCC trail down from the canyon rim to the floor (maybe 800 ft?). Tuesday was great - I put together a hike using parts of the Lower Comanche, Rock Garden, and Rylander trails that took me from the floor to the rim and back, and while searching for something called the Duck Pond Spur (which I eventually found), I saw some of the Barbary Aoudad sheep herd from Africa. Wednesday I got three hikes in: Lighthouse to GSL to Little Fox canyon; Juniper Riverside to Juniper Cliffside; and finally Juniper Cliffside to Rojo Grande to Sunflower. None of these three had large elevation gains, but they were still enjoyable. I was disappointed not to hike on Thursday, so I drove to Caprock State Park to scope it out. (Might have to camp there someday; bisons wander everywhere, even in the campgrounds.) Map of the trails at https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwd ... _0007p.pdf

I heard some talk about there being slots somewhere in the Palo Duro canyon, but they are not on any of the established trails, and the folks I asked didn't seem to know about them. Now that I've been home and looked more on Google Earth, I'm curious whether taking the Lighthouse Trail but not going uphill to see the formation, rather continuing on following the riverbed, might lead me to them. Next time?

Again, this wasn't a place for isolation, but it did have lots of natural beauty, which keeps me enthralled while I walk. I did not think any of the hikes were extremely difficult. Several of the trails are multi-use; while I didn't run into horses, there were plenty of mountain bikers, all very polite, going by. Oh, and on the Sunflower trail I came around one corner to find a couple of cows and their calves. (I waited until they were all on the same side before I walked by.) It was just right for what I needed - exercise with scenery. (You'll have to wait for pictures - I'm going to get my son to help me with them when he visits next week)

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Kauri
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Re: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Post by Kauri » Tue May 21, 2019 1:13 pm

Thank you for posting this! I had not previously heard of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. From a brief Google search for images, it looks like a very nice place to visit. I'll look forward to seeing your photos, whenever you're able to upload them :smile:
My trip reports, from Death Valley and beyond: http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... eports.php

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Post by MojaveGeek » Wed May 22, 2019 8:15 pm

Always nice to get a trip report! I'm in the process of planning summer trips to Montana and Colorado. I would really like to go back to the eastern Sierra, after having gotten pretty badly smoked out by the fire in Yosemite this last August, but the heavy snowpack suggests doing that another year, as the Sierra are all about peak bagging!

bluegreen kayak
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A few pictures

Post by bluegreen kayak » Mon May 27, 2019 1:17 pm

Still learning how to post these, so I hope they come through.
Image
Palo Duro's iconic Lighthouse formation.
Image
Caprock that has fallen over.

Image
Caprocks trying not to fall off.


The following two photos show a bit of the "Spanish skirts" found along the bottom of the canyon sides. They look like a dancer's skirt with horizontal bands of colors.
Image
Image



Image
An interesting formation along the Juniper Cliffside trail. Not a true cave, just a spot where water has come through the overlying rock.

Image
This was taken from across a side canyon, as I was eating lunch. My camera is fairly simple so this photo is not as clear as I would like, but if you look closely you might be able to make out one of the Aoudad rams I saw.

My profoundest gratitude to the forum folks who explained posting pictures, and my son who showed me how.

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