Sunday, July 31, 2016


Oh my, what to say about this beautiful place.  It is the second largest canyon in the United States, just not nearly as advertised as the Grand Canyon.  

Located not far from Amarillo we decided to take a day trip to view the canyon and to check out the campgrounds at the base of the canyon.

Unlike the Grand Canyon the campgrounds are easily accessed by car.  There are sites for tent campers, motor homes and everything between.  The number is of course limited and they are pretty basic sites.  I am sorry I forgot to check the rates, but it is a state park so that will give you a rough idea of the cost.

There are a few bits of information I would like to share with you before I start describing the canyon and its beauty.
1.     Pack lots of water, a picnic lunch and lots of water would be even better.  There are several day use areas that would be wonderful to just sit and enjoy the scenery while you ate a snack or a meal.
2.     Take sun and heat protection with you and use it! The canyon is unbelievably hot as you start walking its basin and there are a lot of wonderful hiking trails to enjoy.   However, we did see signs that said that if you did not have a hat, sunblocker, lots of water and it was over 80 degrees to NOT take that hiking trail. 
3.     Speaking of hiking trails, wear sturdy walking shoes that will provide you protection against long cactus spines and will support your ankles well.

4.     Take cash with you so when you stumble across the snow cone vendor you can enjoy one of their delicious cooling treats.
5.     Pack your camera, there are many wonderful sites to see.
6.     Allow plenty of time, this is not a place you want to rush.
7.     And finally if you have a fear of driving on high two lane roads without guard rails, let someone else drive when you are within the first two miles of the top.  After that first/last two miles the roads are fine, but to someone with a fear of heights there is one 1 ½ mile segment that could be pretty scary for them.

Our first stop was after the “scary part” and well worth the effort to get down the road.  It was the visitor center.  The panoramic view there was spectacular.

Inside the visitor center there were large windows, complete with a free viewing telescope so even the most timid of visitors could enjoy the view from the safety of the room.

There was a book signing going on there while we were there, but for the life of me I cannot remember the author’s name.  I apologize. 

There were also some nice displays about the native inhabitants, the flora and fauna of the area and of course a gift shop.  We stayed there, enjoying the view and the air conditioning for a while before venturing off to see what else we could find.

Up the hill from the visitor center there was a hiking trail that I ventured down for a bit, but the heat soon drove me back to the pick-up.

Everywhere we went the colors were astounding.  I was fascinated by the sheer beauty of the layers upon layers of history showing in the rocks and walls of the canyon. 

Multiple resting places are provided throughout the canyon, some took advantage of the natural materials provided by the canyon.

As we drove through one of the many campground/day use areas we came across our first view of the fully bearded wild turkeys for the day.  They didn’t seem the least bit concerned we were in their area.  I guess they know they are protected in the park.

At one point we started to hike down the path to the Lighthouse formation, but we soon figured out why they had the signs up about water, temperatures and such and after maybe a quarter mile of hiking.  We wisely turned back after taking a photo of one formation that the handout suggested looked like a Native American wrapped in a blanket, you decide if it does:

and purchased snow cones from the convenient seller at this point (the only one we saw by the way). 

We hesitated at the price of $3 for a small one, but decided we deserved the treat for all the walking we had been doing.  It was the best $6 we spent that day.  

They were not your typical flimsy paper cone cup that tradition snow cones come in it was a 20 oz Styrofoam cup and very well made.  For another dollar we could have gotten a 32 oz cup.  But 20 was plenty refreshing for us.  By the way, this vendor only takes cash because of the fact there is little to no cell or internet connection in the canyon.

I watched as the young woman constructed our treats.  A cherry one for Gary and a vanilla one for me.  She filled the cups with finely crushed (almost to a slush consistency) ice  that she shaved only after you placed your order. 

Then a good layer of flavoring was added and she tapped the cup on the counter, stirred a short while then added more ice, more flavoring repeat until the cup was heaping full.  This was served with a spoon. Oh so good. 

We set enjoying the scenery, eating our snow cones and observing extremely hot looking people returning from their hike.  Even young, fit 20 somethings were showing the strains of that near 100 degree day.

As we drove through the park looking at all the beautiful formations and colors we both agreed in a way this was better than the Grand Canyon because all we had ever done there was camp at the top and stare at the beauty of it from the guard rails.  I love the Grand Canyon, and I love the Badlands, this place is like a combination of the two.

There are not only many colors and formations to see there are also caves, most of which you are allowed to hike to.  This one caught our eye. We loved the way it continues the stripe all the way through the cave.  You can judge how big the cave is by the other guests that climbed up there ahead of us (actually by this point I was tuckered out, and staying in the truck while Gary took the rest of the photos, in fact he took most of the photos that day.

If we had wanted to we could have stayed and gone to the outdoor play “Texas” in the outdoor amphitheater that evening, but we were too tired. 

If we had chosen to we could have parked at the top and road a shuttle up and down the road for the play so you don’t have to do the scary road in the dark.  By the way the entrance road and the exit road are the same road.

All in all we are really glad we went.  I think you would be glad to go as well.

Jan who loves visiting God’s masterpieces in nature in and away from OK


  1. Were you told that when you put the Grand Canyon and Palo Duro Canyon on top of each other, you have all the layers of the earth? Glad you enjoyed your stay at our beautiful State Park. You really should have stayed to see TEXAS!! People come from all over the WORLD . . . yes, the WORLD . . . to see it. Maybe next time. :)

  2. We'll be back in Texas when you turn the thermostat down later on this year We are from Oklahoma so we are use to the heat, but nothing like we dealt with the day we were in Palo Duro. Really gorgeous, although part of that road is a bit scary,

  3. We'll be back in Texas when you turn the thermostat down later on this year We are from Oklahoma so we are use to the heat, but nothing like we dealt with the day we were in Palo Duro. Really gorgeous, although part of that road is a bit scary,