Palo Duro Canyon State Park

After New Orleans, we were ready for a little quiet time. We thought stopping at Wind Point Park for a few days would provide us with that. Boy were we wrong! 4 non-stop days of catching up with friends. 3 non-stop nights of bonfires and brews. It was awesome to visit the place we worked for 5 1/2 months and to see the people we’d become friends with, but damn, was I tired when we left! Our next stop was guaranteed to give us the down time we needed.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Driving along the north Texas plain, the scenery can be a bit – well – boring. Sorry Texas! But miles and miles (and miles) of this…

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can give you the feeling the scenery will never change. I was sitting in my customary position, foot rest up-seat tilted back just so, just comfortable enough to doze occasionally. I was jolted awake from my snooze when Steve hit the brakes on Waldo a little harder than normal. I was STUNNED. The scenery had gone from miles of flat nothing to a mesmerizing view of the canyon…

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I had taken advantage of our Texas State Park pass when I made our reservation. All we had to do was check in at the ranger station and get our site number. Sites are assigned on a first come first served basis. In 2019, you will be able to reserve a specific site but for now it is pot luck. I think we did OK!

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Looking back, I wrote in my journal, “It is not a hard thing to wake up to.” Peace and quiet! Only a few friendly neighbors. Our first full day in the canyon had us scouting out possible hikes, nothing too strenuous, but trying to take in everything we could. I got a bit frustrated because they give you 2 maps. One of the campgrounds and one of the hiking trails. It’s really hard to match the maps up and the signage wasn’t as good as it could be. We drove through the park first, getting the lay of the land, so to speak. It was hard to get anywhere, because I kept saying “Stop, I want to take a picture.” With sights like this, how could I not?

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The setting moon

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Our first hike was to “The Big Cave”. We parked on the side of the road and started up the trail…

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I climbed to the mouth of the cave first and looked back to make sure Steve was coming…

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Steve trying to decide the best route
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Looking back towards the Jeep. Can you see it?
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I couldn’t get far enough back into the cave to get the entire opening

From a distance, the rock looks smooth. When you get close up, it looks like this…

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From here, we walked along the Juniper Riverside trail…

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While the scenery was spectacular, I was getting tired so returned to the Jeep. I’ve been fighting a sore throat and a sinus infection, so this was enough walking for one day.

Once back at Waldo, we set our chairs in the shade and relaxed! As we were sitting there chatting, I spied something out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t sure what it was and I nudged Steve to look in that direction. A few moments later, a little head popped out of the ground, looked around then dropped back into the hole. I sat with the camera trained on the hole, waiting for the critter to reemerge. He did, but from another hole. It took me a while, but here is our visitor…

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It is called a pocket gopher. Come to find out, there must have been dozens them. As we sat there quietly, they popped up and down like the game of whack-a-mole. Right after Steve put my camera away, we had another visitor, so this is a cellphone pic…

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Roadrunners crack me up. I love watching them. The next morning, I looked out the window towards the tent across the way. If the folks sleeping inside had been awake, they could have reached out and petted the mule deer who was grazing at their front door. I was loving all the wildlife. This what exactly the relaxation we had been needing.

We spent most of the day driving through the park. We stopped at the visitor center and learned a lot about the fascinating history of the park. I had heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but never realized what an impact they had on our park system. They spent 5 years working on Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Many of the building are still in use today. Below is a picture of what is left of the mess hall. 85 years later, this chimney is still standing…

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As we were driving along, I had Steve pull over and give me the binoculars.

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Yes, the arrow is pointing to a person! I’ll bet the view was amazing, but, not my kind of hike!

Our final morning found us wishing for more time to explore. More time to just relax and spend quality time together, but we still have a long way to go. (4,698 mile to be exact) We had one last visitor before we left…

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Another cellphone pic, but you get the idea

The road in and out of the canyon is steep and full of switchbacks. We decided not to hook up the jeep and force Waldo to tow it out. So, with me driving the Trouble, I followed Steve out of the canyon. Just to give you an idea, here is a short video I shot out the window as I was following…

Steve almost gave me a heart attack when the rear wheel slipped into the culvert! Once we were at the top, we hooked up and headed towards Amarillo. Not surprisingly, I had him pull over once again for a picture. What gave me pause was thinking about how much is the same and how much has changed. Two windmills, both harnessing power, the old and the new…

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Up next…a really cool RV museum in Amarillo.

I know I am really behind in keeping up with our travels. We were at Palo Duro Canyon April 4-6th. We’ve seen so much since then! Right now we are in Winnemucca, Nevada, but I don’t want to get too ahead of the story! If you want more up-to-date information on our adventures, Like TheWanderingRVer on Facebook

14 thoughts on “Palo Duro Canyon State Park”

  1. Palo Duro looks so pretty and the photos of the hikes hikes you took are beautiful. We might take a drive one afternoon while in Amarillo as my Texas State Park pass will expire soon. The roadrunner–love him. 🙂 Safe travels you guys! Hope Waldo behaves.

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  2. That video made my hands sweat. Beautiful but looks dangerous or at least challenging. Quite the change after New Orleans. Loved the photo with the arrow showing the person standing on the summit. I’d like to huff and puff my way up there.

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      1. Thank you for following my blog! I’m looking forward to following you along as you travel to Alaska. Five years ago this week we were in Alberta in the Canadian Rockies on our way to Alaska. It was the trip of a lifetime!

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