Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the second-largest canyon in the United States. The canyon is 120 miles long and 800 feet deep. Palo Duro Canyon began forming less than 1 million years ago. Palo Duro is Spanish for "hard wood" in reference to the Rocky Mountain juniper trees so prevalent in the canyon.
The rocks expose a geologic story which began approximately 250 million years ago with the Quartermaster Formation. These rocks, located at the bottom of the canyon are noted for their bright red clay stone and white gypsum. Next, the Tecovas Formation can be seen with its yellow, gray and lavender mudstone. The sandstone and course gravel of the Trujillo Formation can be seen as your further ascend the canyon. A final layer of rocks are from the Ogallala Formation with sand, silt, clay and caliche.
The bulk of these images were taken on the Lighthouse Trail, the most popular in the park, about a 6 mile hike round trip. During this nearly 4 hour hike, my goal was to highlight the scenic geology and beauty of this fantastic park.
The other images depict various scenic overlooks at one enters the park, near the Sunflower Trail and the Big Cave at the end of the park road.
Place Palo Duro Canyon State Park on your travel bucket list. It is truly an experience, much like the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Nearby is the Caprock Canyon State Park, another hidden gem (see photo gallery within). Both can be viewed in a couple days in the Texas Panhandle.
Curtis A. Smith 2000-2018