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Walk About Texas Palo Duro Canyon
Dated: May 23 2016
Texas Walkabouts 2016
I have lived in Texas for over 30 years....
It has occurred to me that, other than driving through it on vacations to Colorado, or while making a move to California in the mid 80's, I have seen less than 1/3 of this great state. We were always waiting. Waiting for the perfect opportunity to explore,waiting for the perfect time, waiting for the perfect financial situation, waiting for the planets to align. In other words-just plain waiting. Now, with 2 grown children with jobs and other lives, and having recently lost my husband , I am pretty much on my own to wait, and I had decided that being "on my own" was not an excuse. A good friend of mine is the VP of Sales for a large Office Machine dealership in California. When he is at his height of stress, he always tells me that he is ready for a Crocodile Dundee Walkabout. That sounded great to me, so I decided to start my Texas Walkabouts.
Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, and it is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. A mere 5 hour drive up to the Texas pan handle, it was the perfect destination for my first Walkabout. The drive was exhilarating. I cranked up the stereo and rolled along Texas 287 listening to classic Kansas, Super Tramp, Journey and Queen (what road trip would be complete without Bohemian Rhapsody blowing out the speakers?) The 2 lane highway took me through tiny Texas towns with names like Jolly, Electra, Oklaunion and Vernon. Each was a pause along the roadside with it's own DQ, grain elevators and water towers emblazoned with the name of the local football team. Of course, being spring time, Texas wildflowers were my constant companions.
The drive was half the fun, but the Destination did not disappoint. I spent the next 3 days hiking and horseback riding surrounded by an amazing landscape. Unlike the Grand Canyon, the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon can be reached without riding a donkey for 3 hours. There are a variety of trails at different levels of difficulty-from "I am completely out of shape" to "find me the steepest canyon wall to climb". For me, the "I am completely out of shape" trails were just right! Being a holiday weekend (Easter) the park was fairly crowded, but there was still an air of solitude along the trails and the perfect amount of silence. I spent the last day hiking to the Hallmark Monument of the park, the Lighthouse. The six mile hike was somewhat difficult and it took me all day to do it. But the view from the top was nothing short of spectacular.
Take the family, take the dogs! The tent camping sites are not the best, and fill up fast. The RV sites appeared to be OK. Your best bet would be to reserve one of their very cool cabins along the canyon rim-call well in advance, and leave the dog home-they are not allowed in cabins. Or, do like me and stay at the Best Western in town-it was almost the same as camping!
Stay tuned for my next issue of Texas Walkabouts 2016-destination, who knows?