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March 16-17: Villanueva, NM to Canyon, TX

I finally have a positive image to replace all the ugly images I have of Texas (think oil refineries, natural gas flares, endless highways with endless tractor trailer trucks.) Palo Duro Canyon State Park was a real surprise. I booked the reservations based solely upon the park's location and the fact that there were RV hook-ups we could use to charge our car. Only later did we discover we were going to the "Grand Canyon of Texas" or the second largest canyon in the U.S.

Red rocks and soil dominate the landscape as we drive down into the canyon.


Our campsites - we had to move to a different site for the second night since there were no sites available for two consecutive sites - were modest but they had electric hook-ups and one had working water. Even though we have become super efficient at the set-up and take-down of the tent and all the associated gear, it all still takes time. And I like to pack the car the same way each time so that we can access things easier, though I have to say the car is starting to look like a bit of a pig sty.

Dogs wait patiently to exit the cozy tent and get fed breakfast. Humans were treated to sauteed vegetables with tortillas and salsa for their breakfast.


On the afternoon of our first day at Palo Duro, we hiked a while on Kiowa Trail, which meanders along an un-named brook. The soil was a bright orange-red, very striking against the blue sky. I spotted a shrub in bloom I thought look somewhat familiar. It turns out it was western soapberry.


According to the Palo Duro Canyon Interpretive Guide, "“Palo Duro” is Spanish for “hard wood” in reference to the Rocky Mountain Juniper trees still seen in places in the canyon. Other common tree species seen in the canyon include mesquite, red berry juniper, one seed juniper, cottonwood, willow, western soapberry and hackberry."

The sweet little blooms of the soapberry bush caught my eye.

There were many beautiful views on our hike, though I don't think I actually captured an adequate photo of the lighthouse rock formation for which Lighthouse Trail is named. It was overrun with people, so no great loss.


On day two we hiked the wildly popular Lighthouse Trail - much too busy with people for our liking - though the landscape and scenery was wonderful. On the return hike on the trail, we took a detour off into a side canyon and spent an hour or more (by ourselves) oohing and aahing over the cool rock formations. Most are sedimentary and have been subjected to great erosion.


In the evening, we wandered around nearby trails, waiting for it to get late enough to go to bed (tent). It doesn't get dark until after 8, so that took a while.

The gals hang around in the little amphitheater, just waiting for it to be bedtime.


We slept well enough and were awoken by the calls of what we've thought all along were mourning doves with western accents - turns out they are Eurasian collared doves. We also heard the flock of turkey calling and were greeted by three male turkey strutting their stuff. The females looked unimpressed.

Three male turkey show us what they got. The right hand photo was taken from the tent - a rather surprising thing for me to see when I peeked out of the tent screen this morning.

All's quiet in the early morning as I walk back from the loo and prepare to make caffeinated beverages.


We made quick work of breaking down the campsite in the low 30-degree weather and were on the road around 8:30. This morning was just dress rehearsal for tomorrow morning, when the low is supposed to be 19 degrees. Oy!

11 Comments


Looks like a beautiful day.

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It takes special people to make Texas sound (and look) good.

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Mary
Mary
Mar 25, 2023
Replying to

That's funny, Terry! 😁

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Tribal Scribal
Tribal Scribal
Mar 19, 2023

Looks like you found a good place set up camp (and recharge). That said, the "Grand Canyon of Texas"? or "the second largest canyon in the U.S."?? Do I detect some Texan bravado to go with that state flag? 🤔 Hope you find a warmer reception in the Southeast. Georgia should be in the mid-60s when you get there. Will you be anywhere near the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta?

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Mary
Mary
Mar 25, 2023
Replying to

We were nowhere near Atlanta this time, d.o.

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jeffayers57
jeffayers57
Mar 19, 2023

19 degrees boy that’s cold for being that far south on the verge of spring ,we have been having 50-60 degre days even though tomorrow is supposed to be a high on 43

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jeffayers57
jeffayers57
Mar 19, 2023

Some great scenery,now you know where some of those old westerns were filmed

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