Thursday, August 30, 2012

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

This has been the view  from our campsite for the past three nights.

The words, Good Night Moon, pop into my head :)

We did it.  We drove almost 400 miles (one way) heading to the Panhandle Plains of Texas.  Texas is so big, it is broken into 7 regions, the Panhandle Plains being one of them.

And those plains are FLAT!

Flat as a pancake kind of flat.

Every few miles you catch a glimpse of an old windmill that still pumps water for the cattle grazing way out in the fields.

Hard to believe a sign that says a canyon is just a bit further down the road.

When we entered the park, we saw this...

Gorgeous.  Breath taking.  Beautiful.  They are all understatements.

We spent three nights and days in this amazing park called Palo Duro Canyon.  The second largest canyon in the United States.

It's very old.  The first humans residing here about 12,000 years ago.  Nomads came hunting giant mammoth and bison.  

Apache Indians called this home, followed by the Comanche and Kiowa Indians until 1874.  At that time, Col. Ranald Mackenzie was sent to round up the Indians and take them to their "new home" in Oklahoma.

Around 1876, Charles Goodnight came to the canyon and opened the JA Ranch.  (Lonesome Dove, it's a fictional story about Charles Goodnight.)

He lead his herd of cattle down into the canyon, one head at a time.  Dismantled the wagons, brought the pieces down, and rebuilt them on the canyon floor.

Speaking of wagons...Charles Goodnight invented the chuck wagon!

He was a cowboy, a Texas Ranger, fought for the Confederate States' Army, and then a rancher who not only supplied beef to the United States Army, herded cattle up to Wyoming on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, but also wanted to protect the bison.

In 1876, Goodnight preserved a herd of native plains bison.  Bison, from that herd, where delivered to Yellow Stone National Park in 1902.

The beauty and history in this canyon is amazing.  We didn't hike or bike any of the long trails since the heat would have been hard on the youngest ones.

When we did explore, we were out there by 8am with plenty of water.

David scored a bike rack for $25 off of Craig's List the day before we left on our trip.  They had a blast riding the "easy" trails in and around our camp ground.

Speaking of is our campsite.

One cannot drive down into the Grand Canyon to camp, but you can at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park has three different campgrounds with electric and water hook up.  There are various tent-only sites as well.

And my best camping buddy would be the percolator...

And for those of you who think caffeine is bad for you?  I disagree.

Without this puppy, those really tense camping moments would have been a whole lot worse!

Besides, there is nothing better than hot coffee first thing in the morning at a camp ground.

We did have some visitors.

Even though they are beautiful animals, they still are dangerous.  Especially the ones with fawns.  David warned the kids to stay back.  (They were too eager to want to "hand feed" the animals.)

Ester quickly pointed out this visitor crawling right through the middle of our campsite on the last night.

Tarantulas are pretty interesting to watch...and I was surprised at how fast they are.

We  went to Amarillo one afternoon to escape the heat and to buy repair material for some of the bike tires that had thorns in them :)

I had David drive me out to Cadillac Ranch on Old Route 66.

Any of you know what Cadillac Ranch is?

The kids thought that was pretty neat!!!

And thought it was super cool to find some half-empty spray cans lying around.  Yes, they added their own personal touch to this piece of history.

And this was F.R.E.E.  Gotta love that!

One morning, we took the older 4 kids for trail rides through the canyon floor.  Oh! My! Goodness!

(Photo credit:  Ester)

We split it into two trips so that one parent would always be with Clementine, who obviously didn't go.

The entire time we were on that horse ride, I kept thinking of cowboys and Indians, history, beauty, and how powerful and amazing our God is.

(Photo credit:  Sally)

David said that I've officially earned my bragging rights after camping three nights down in a canyon.  I never thought I'd be a camper and it is turning out to be so much fun!

Camping makes going places and seeing things so affordable.  It isn't easy, there are some pretty tense moments, but it is mainly happy memories that will last a lifetime!

Our next stop on the list is Galveston Island State Park.  Hopefully this fall, weather permitting.

Hope you enjoyed these.  If you are ever in that area, I would highly suggest taking the time to at least drive through.  God's beauty will leave you speechless.

~  Patty  ~


  1. This is an incredibly wonderful post and so very timely for us. We have just been studying the Cattle Trails. Thank you so much for the lovely photos!

    1. Thanks, Phyllis. I was thinking of you while down there. I know you have been studying the cattle trails and wanted to let you know we were headed there. The Panhandle Plains have more heads of cattle then people :) And cowboys are abundant. I had to chuckle, when we were in stores, the music was the real western country music...Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, etc.

  2. HOw amazing! What an amazing experience for your children. Beautiful family by the way.

    1. Thank you. It was truly an amazing experience. One I've been hoping to take part in for about five years. Finally got there!

  3. Patty, where to begin? This is a beautiful, beautiful post. I so enjoyed your photos. Thank you for allowing me to see such a beautiful part of nature in our country that I never knew existed. Being from the northeast, I am unfamiliar with the beauty of nature in that part of our country. And I loved the picture of you and your beautiful family! What wonderful memories you all are making together. Lastly...Coffe is my favorite and my best! I am with you there!

    1. Billie Jo, I have always enjoyed seeing other parts of our great and beautiful country. Living in Texas and traveling to all of its regions is like going to a different country every time!

  4. Breathtaking- all around. The view, your smiles, Cadillac Ranch,... the whole post!! I think you get bragging rights plus!

  5. How beautifully beautiful, Patty! I hadn't a clue that Texas has plains and such gorgeous canyons to boot!! It looks like an amazing trip that you caught very well on camera. I felt like I was almost right there with you, even from way up here in MN :) I bet the kids had so much fun and you made some wonderful memories.

  6. Beautiful phots - except for the tarantula! That just convinced me for certain that camping is not for this girl. Glad you had a great time and are creating such wonderful memories with your family. It won't be long a baby C will be right there with her big sibs :)

  7. First impressions after reading your post. God's handiwork in the gorgeous setting. And your oldest daughter is taller than you! And you have a baby! Lovely family that will cherish these memories forever.

    You did seem calm about the tarantula! And didn't cowboys start their days with coffee? I say it's part of the experience!

  8. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos...You really got some great ones of the kids, too! Your last statement is absolutely true...God's beauty DOES leave you speechless. This is definitely one of the main reasons to keep on campin! Your breakfast food looks amazing and I agree on the coffee...It tastes better outdoors don't you think? Thanks for sharing the history too...very interesting! Fabulous memories, indeed:)

  9. One of the coolest things about reading blogs is being able to "go to" so many places we can't all get to! Thanks for the trip! (such beautiful photos)

  10. I just stumbled upon this post. Wow! That's my home region....I grew up in the Panhandle and have fond memories of Palo Duro Canyon. It's amazing, but I never realized the beauty of it until I married and moved away.:( I'm glad you had the chance to appreciate it with your family. We have to camp there with our kids. Plus we'd get to see my side of the family as well. It's a win-win!! Beautiful photos.:)


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