Palo Duro Canyon, May 2002

By , May 29, 2002 11:13 pm
The Lighthouse at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

The Lighthouse at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

For years I have heard about Palo Duro Canyon, and on every trip out west since the first ski trips in the early 1980s I have seen the big brown signs along the interstate around Amarillo pointing the way. It only takes about six hours to drive from my home in Ada to Palo Duro, so it’s close enough to make a long weekend out of it. With a perfect blue sky above, I set out with uncharacteristic spontineity.

“Palo Duro” means hard wood.

The Famous Leaning Tower near Groom, Texas

The Famous Leaning Tower near Groom, Texas

Day 1…

•Stopped to shoot the famous (at least along I-40) Leaning Tower of Britten.

•Found an excellent campsite in the Hackberry Campground, with cliffs and trees all around.

•Made a driving tour of the park, with excellent results.

Cave and branch, south end of Palo Duro Canyon road

Cave and branch, south end of Palo Duro Canyon road

•A beautiful place, full of cottonwoods. Nearly cloudless sky. Golden sunset. Cool and dry.

•Little black flies and wild turkeys share this campground with a moderate number of good-tempered campers who are mostly in vehicles.

•At dark, preparing to make a star trace photo, a number of deer pass close to my campsite.

Hour-long star trace photo made by laying my camera on its back on a cooking grill

Hour-long star trace photo made by laying my camera on its back on a cooking grill

Day 2…

Wild turkey, Hackberry campground

Wild turkey, Hackberry campground

•More wild turkeys in the campsite. Coyotes woke me up on two occasions

•Morning, hiked the Lighthouse Trail. I was told it would take two hours – I did it in an hour and ten minutes. I was the first there. Excellent images on the trail and at the formation. Poor images on the internet failed to capture either beauty or scale of the scene.

•Lots of flies, turkeys, deer, lizards.

•After lunch, Paseo del Rio Trail.

•Hiked a short distance up a bike trail; passable images but great fun exploring.

•Decent spot for sunset.

Hiking the Lighthouse Trail, Morning, Palo Duro Canyon

Hiking the Lighthouse Trail, Morning, Palo Duro Canyon

This is the quietest, most peaceful trip I have taken to date, due in no small measure to the excellent solitude.

Additional images:

Sunset at Palo Duro

Sunset at Palo Duro

Cliffs in afternoon light at Palo Duro.

Cliffs in afternoon light at Palo Duro

Cactus Flat, Palo Duro

Cactus Flat, Palo Duro

Overhanging Cliff and Pine Tree

Overhanging Cliff and Pine Tree

Bicyclists atop the mesa next to The Lighthouse

Bicyclists atop the mesa next to The Lighthouse

Dry wash, Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro.

Dry wash, Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro.

Fifteen Minute Star Trace from Hackberry Campground, Palo Duro Canyon

Fifteen Minute Star Trace from Hackberry Campground, Palo Duro Canyon

Dry wash and peak, Lighthouse Trail.

Dry wash and peak, Lighthouse Trail.

Dead tree and "Spanish Skirts" erosion.

Dead tree and Spanish Skirts

Overview, Palo Duro Canyon

Overview, Palo Duro Canyon

Tree and peaks, Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro.

Tree and peaks, Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro.

Trail, Morning, Palo Duro Canyon

Trail, Morning, Palo Duro Canyon

Trees, sky and peaks, afternoon, Palo Duro Canyon.

Trees, Sky and Peaks, Afternoon, Palo Duro Canyon

Dead Tree and Spanish Skirts, Lighthouse Trail

Dead Tree and Spanish Skirts, Lighthouse Trail

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