August 19, 2021
Whereas nothing compares to the awe-inspiring views at Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon — the 2nd-largest canyon within the U.S. — can be grand (with somewhat “g”). Striated bands of crimson and white rock shade the canyon partitions, that are stubbled with inexperienced bushes. Throughout the summer season monsoon season (we have been passing by means of on a street journey to Colorado), the canyon ground is awash with greenery too.
The canyon opens up like a knife gouge within the pancake-flat Texas Panhandle, 25 miles south of Amarillo. From rim to ground, it descends 820 to 1,000 ft. The gulf from one facet to the opposite spans 20 miles in some spots. And it runs 120 miles in size. Sure, it’s huge. Not Grand Canyon huge, however huge.
Not like at Grand Canyon, you’ll be able to drive to the underside of Palo Duro and loop by means of the primary valley in about 40 minutes to an hour. That’s all we had time for once we arrived one late afternoon in mid-July, as a thunderstorm rumbled in.
As the primary rain splatters hit the windshield, I noticed one thing on the street as our automobile handed over it. I rotated and went again to look (no different automobiles have been round) and noticed — yep, there’s a tarantula marching down the street.
We watched it meander unhurriedly into the comb on the facet of the street earlier than transferring on.
Quickly it was raining buckets, and we needed to squint by means of rain-smeared home windows to admire the surroundings. It’s exhausting to overlook the Large Cave although — a slit-like opening in a crimson cliff wall, with a horizontal band of white throughout the cave entrance.
A pair of climbers just under the cave have been selecting their means up or down — I can’t keep in mind which.
On the entrance to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a number of longhorns in a fenced area have been posing for photos, or so it appeared. If it appeared unusual to see livestock at a state park, nicely, they characterize a part of Texas’s and Palo Duro’s historical past. How? Take into account this: Spanish colonizers introduced their cattle with them, and a few animals escaped, roamed wild, and thrived over the following couple hundred years. After the Civil Warfare, Texans trying to get wealthy rounded up wild longhorns (Charles Goodnight ranched longhorns across the canyon) and drove them north to promote for slaughter. The period of cattle drives lasted solely a few a long time till the open vary was closed off by way of fencing, railroad transport took over, and longhorn beef fell from favor. By the Twenties, the longhorn was in decline. Within the Nineteen Forties, Austin author J. Frank Dobie, with monetary backing, donated a herd of longhorns to the Texas Parks Board. The longhorns residing at Palo Duro in the present day are a part of that conservation effort.
That’s loads of freighted historical past driving on this animal’s sturdy again: colonization, remedy of indigenous peoples, civil conflict, land use and land grabs, and what a part of a state’s historical past will get celebrated and was its iconic image (Hook ’em!). Texas patriotism and our romanticism of the Lonesome Dove period runs as deep because the canyon, nonetheless. It even performs out on summer season nights at Palo Duro in a long-running manufacturing known as TEXAS Outside Musical.
The present was set to open a couple of hours after we arrived, and we briefly thought of shopping for tickets. However the thunderheads dissuaded us, as did the information that we had one other lengthy day of driving forward of us within the morning. It’s exhausting for me to overlook an attraction although. Perhaps subsequent time.
This ends my sequence about our July roadtrip from Austin to Aspen and again. To examine our go to to the well-known artwork set up Cadillac Ranch alongside Route 66 click on right here. Hyperlinks to my different posts may be discovered on the finish of every one within the sequence.
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