Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Number 30: Palo Duro Canyon State Park (Little Grand Canyon)

This is our last park until the fall comes and brings us some cooler weather.  It has gotten a bit hot around here, that happens in Texas in summer.  Palo Duro Canyon State Park truly illustrated that for us.


The canyon is 120 miles long and at some points 20 miles wide; the second largest in the country.


In comparison, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide.


So impressive.


And the heat?  Yes, it was hot.  Interestingly, at every trail head there was a large thermometer to let people know just how hot it was.


Though many wildflowers were still in bloom at some of the other parks we visited during this week, here there were not so many.  In fact, I only saw one.

Purple Ground Cherry
And as far as critters go, this little Collared Lizard made the whole day worth it.  Can you believe he let me get that close?  This photo is going on my wall by the map and other favorite park photographs.


Our big adventure of the day, though, had to be this cave.


Can you tell from the picture it's massive?  For the most part we stuck to the loose rocks that ran straight up to the large opening.


Once inside the temperature dropped 10 degrees.  This was a very welcome surprise.


Of course one must not stop at a cave when there is more to explore above, must one?  Of course not, so up we went.   See the green-not-found-anywhere-in-nature shirt?


Do you see it now?  Now note the leaning rock on the right.


Since you know I take all the pictures, this is proof that I made the climb as well up to the leaning rock (and the guy in the green-not-found-anywhere-in-nature shirt.


And from the other side, just in case you wanted to see just how high up it was.


Here you can see the leaning rock above the cave.  So pretty.


Stunning.


One more thing before I end this last park post until October (maybe late September).  They have 4 cabins for rent in the park.  They were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1800's and are made of stone and super secluded.  Number 4 is built into the canyon, and looking in any direction you cannot see a road or trail.  The view from the picnic table is breathtaking.


I would definitely stay here.  A grill, picnic table, bunk beds, and electricity are a plus and the price is $60. Love it.  Crazy that a park this size only has 4.  There are so many events to take part in at Palo Duro. There is a full moon hike, star gazing, horse back riding, campfire cookouts, and an amphitheater where you can see Texas a Musical Drama.  I think they also do Hamlet, believe it or not.  There is also a restaurant and grocery store if you are camping and need to pick up a few things (or get dinner since you are too tired from hiking to cook).  Great park and our last park until fall.