Palo Duro #2 is a landscape view of the rugged sun-scorched Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle of Texas. Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. The canyon is about 120 miles long and 20 miles wide and can reach depths as far down as 900 ft.
Created by the same forces as the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon appeared due to water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River. The severe water and winds erosion of the sedimentary rocks over millions of years slowly carved out the canyon. Because the river ran over a relatively flat area known as the Llano Estacado and thee poured over the Caprock Escarpment, it allowed for formations containing deep grooves in the canyon wall and flat top mesas to appear.
During the summer months West Texas is brutally hot and arid. The State Parks and Wildlife Division advises all hikers and bicyclists to bring plenty of water when traversing the various paths and roads. Large portions of the canyons do not have any form of shade and give almost no protection from the 100°+ F heat.
The winter months are just as brutal as the summer. Being on a relatively flat surface without the benefit of forests or massive mountains in the way, there is very little protection from the howling north winds that come off the Great Plains stretching all the way into Canada. During those cold months it is not unusual for this area to experience blizzard conditions.
Historically, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was the first European to set eyes on the canyon during his famous expedition to find the seven cities of gold. He even remarked on the huge herds of buffalo that frequented the Llano. He also met with the Apache who were the aboriginal inhabitants of the local area. As he traveled east, he met their enemies the Kiowa and Comanche ethnic groups who soon pushed the Apache out of the canyon and farther into New Mexico.
All of this makes for an interesting visit to West Texas. If the heat or cold of the Llano and the various rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions don’t frighten you off, then you will be fortunate to see the gorgeous vistas and mesas of the Palo Duro Canyon. Whatever you do though, don’t forget the sunscreen. You’ll need it.
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“Educator’s Field Trip Guide.” Educator’s Field Trip Guide. Palo Duro Canyon Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. .
Winship, George Parker. The journey of Coronado, 1540-1542, from the city of Mexico to the Grand Canon of the Colorado and the buffalo plains of Texas, Kansas and Nebraska, as told by himself and his followers, Book, 1922; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3161/ : accessed October 09, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.