|Palo Duro Canyon|
Even when travel is unplanned, it is rewarding to discover new places along the way. I had heard of Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas, but had never visited.
I didn't realize that Texas is home to a beautiful canyon carved out thousands of years ago by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.
|CCC building from the 1930s|
The canyon is 120 miles long and up to 20 miles wide and 800 feet deep. Called "the Grand Canyon of Texas," it is an unexpected natural wonder amidst miles and miles of ranch land in the Texas panhandle.
The park opened in 1934, and encompasses 29,183 acres of the northernmost part of the canyon. Developed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), it is a visitor's delight. Rock buildings from the 1930s enhance the park and provide camping and cabin facilities.
At different times, the canyon was home to the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa Indians. In 1874, the US Cavalry were dispatched to the area to move the Indians to Oklahoma. They captured more than 1400 horses, keeping some and destroying the rest. Without their horses, the Indians surrendered.
In 1876, the JA Ranch was opened by Charles Goodnight. At one time, the canyon was home to more than 100,000 head of cattle. A piece of the ranch is still operational today.
For park information, visit http://palodurocanyon.com.