Bruce & Betsy Blais
Richardson, Texas USA

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Trips & Vacations - Palo Duro Canyon

The weekend of May 9-11, 2008, we took a long weekend out to Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. Palo Duro is a smaller version of the Grand Canyon, being much wider at the bottom. It is so wide that there is a state park there with campsites and cabins. This is a great place and I can't wait to do it again. The weather was perfect and the bugs were minimal. The driving time from Dallas was 6 hours and we only slightly bent the speed limit. We found a great family restaurant in Childress named Dawson's and I highly recommend it if you enjoy good down-home family cooking. It's on the left side of US-287 if you are going west.

On the rim near the entrance to the canyon are three stone cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930's as part of a WPA project that created the park in the canyon. Betsy, AKA Mrs. Gator, has had enough tent camping for one life-time, so now "camping" must include hot showers, clean sheets, air-conditioning and room service. We were able to get a "cabin" on the rim near the entrance to the canyon. It met the requirements of hot showers, clean sheets and air conditioning, although we didn't need the AC. I provided room service.

The photo above shows Betsy standing in the doorway of one of the cabins we rented. The "cabins" are made of native stone,, have two sleeping areas, each with its own fireplace, and a bathroom with shower. It is also air-conditioned. With night-time temps around 50 and day-temps in the low 80's, the "adobe effect" made it so that we didn't need either heat or air. All rooms, including the bathroom, have a view of the canyon, as did the patio.

The photo above shows the view from the patio. Each cabin has one with a picnic table and grill.

The photo above gives a telephoto view of the canyon from the patio.

We went on out Lighthouse trail to the "Lighthouse", the most famous geological formation in the park. Above is a shot of Betsy on the trail out to the Lighthouse and shows some of the formations in the canyon.

Above is a shot of me on the way out to the Lighthouse.


The climb up to the Lighthouse was a bit much for Betsy, so she stayed at the base while Tim and I went up.

The photos were taken on Lighthouse trail as I was riding back. The Lighthouse can be seen in the distance. You have to climb up to the plateau it sits on, then climb up to formation itself.

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Capitol Peak and Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trails

I also rode the Capitol Peak, and the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trails. Betsy and Tim are not really off-roaders, so I rode these trails alone and didn't take any photos. I did learn that if you do them all at once, you are going to get a workout.

The GSL is fairly technical in spots and will work you out. I recommend parking at the trail-head for the Lighthouse trail and taking the Paseo Del Rio to the GSL trail-head as a warm-up. Ride the GSL to Little Fox Canyon Trail and use the Little Fox for recovery before moving on to the Lighthouse and Capitol Peak trails.

Take the Capitol Peak Trail off of Lighthouse and stay to the right to ride along the peak. This trail is fun and moderately challenging. Ultimately, Capitol Peak will bring you back to a parking area near the Lighthouse trail head. Go left and on the Juniper Trail and you will end up back at the Lighthouse trailhead in less than a mile.

Next time I'll plan for more than three days. By the time we arrived late Friday afternoon and got unloaded, there wasn't any time available to ride before getting dinner started. (Remember, I was room service) Saturday was a full ride day, and I got in a couple of hours Sunday morning before packing up and heading back to Dallas. I could have used another day or two. If you are going to use the gas to get there, you might as well make it worth while. I may even consider renting a travel trailer and stay in the Hackberry Camp area for 4-5 days.

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Version 0.1, June 7, 2008