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

Self portrait on the Lighthouse trail.

Self portrait on the Lighthouse trail.

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.

Cave and branch, south end of Palo Duro Canyon road

Cave and branch, south end of Palo Duro Canyon road

The Famous Leaning Tower near Groom, Texas

The Famous Leaning Tower near Groom, Texas

•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.

•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

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

Another view of the Palo Duro sunset

Another view of the Palo Duro sunset

Cliffs in afternoon light at Palo Duro.

Cliffs in afternoon light at Palo Duro

Cactus Flat, Palo Duro

Cactus Flat, Palo Duro

These cliffs are above and behind the Lighthouse formation.

These cliffs are above and behind the Lighthouse formation.

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.

When I first made camp at the Hackberry Campground, I walked around a bit. A cold front had just passed, leaving a breezy, cool, clear day in its wake.

When I first made camp at the Hackberry Campground, I walked around a bit. A cold front had just passed, leaving a breezy, cool, clear day in its wake.

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.

This is a replica of the one-room dugout built by Charles Goodnight in Palo Duro Canyon in the fall of 1876.

This is a replica of the one-room dugout built by Charles Goodnight in Palo Duro Canyon in the fall of 1876.

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

I made this image on the Paseo del Rio trail.

I made this image on the Paseo del Rio trail.

Dead Tree and Spanish Skirts, Lighthouse Trail

Dead Tree and Spanish Skirts, Lighthouse Trail

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