Monday, June 05, 2017

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Near Amarillo, Texas, is the second-largest canyon in the USA, called Palo Duro Canyon. We visited the Palo Duro Canyon State Park this afternoon on our way across the country. (Websites Here and Here).

The area has a long human history: "People have inhabited Palo Duro Canyon for about 12,000 years. The Clovis and Folsom peoples first lived in the canyon and hunted large herds of mammoth and giant bison. Other cultures, such as the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa, used the canyon’s plentiful resources more recently." During the Red River War against the Native Americans, their horses were all killed, their possessions destroyed, and they were expelled from the area. (source)

Looking across the canyon.
Our main reason to visit the park was the special birdlife that's found here. We spent over an hour at the bird blind maintained by the park staff, and we were rewarded with some excellent birds. Here are two of the photos Len took in the park:

A Mississippi Kite.
A black-crested titmouse.
Like many state and national parks, the roads and campgrounds in Palo Duro were constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). By providing employment during the very bad years of the early 1930s, the CCC created access to natural areas throughout the US, and also provided opportunities for young people who were otherwise jobless and nearly hopeless. The money from their salaries also helped restore many local economies that were suffering from hard times.

The gift shop/park headquarters in Palo Duro has a room of historic items from the CCC -- in my experience, this is unusual. Most places that were built with CCC labor make only a brief acknowledgement.

From the exhibit at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park Visitor's Center.
A CCC worker's uniform and other items from this era.


Jeanie said...

The museum makes it extra nice. Boy, you travel to hot places in the summer! I think of TX as the not-in-summer destination! But I love your bird!

Kitchen Riffs said...

I've been here! In fact I've camped here (back in the days when we used to do that). In the mid-80s we were living in Dallas, and drove to Rocky Mountain National Park to camp. On the way back, we spent the night in Palo Duro Canyon -- camping, of course.

Our campsite was perhaps 150 feet from a creek that was the merest trickle -- the width of the water might have been 4 inches, the depth no more than an inch. And our campsite was at least 10 feet above the creek. When we were putting up the tent, my wife asked whether it was worth putting the fly on (basically an extra layer to help ward off rain) -- it was a bright, cloudless day. I said sure -- it's only took a minute, so we did.

Well, later that night it started raining -- huge thunderstorm, that seemed to bounce back and forth between the walls of the canyon. Maybe midnight we heard a strange rustling noise. We looked out of our tent -- and saw a wave of water a couple of inches high rolling towards our tent. It was maybe 20 feet from us. We abandoned the tent, got in our car, and drove up and down the campsite road, honking our horn (lights were out in almost every tent, so people were asleep) to wake people up -- to let people know they were about to be flooded. Which the whole campsite was -- maybe by 6 inches.

Fortunately there was higher ground nearby that we drove to, and spent a soggy night in the car. Only bridge out of the campsite was washed away (we're really talking some major water), and it wasn't until mid-afternoon that we could leave the park. We've all heard the term "flash flood" and probably said ho-hum -- how can that possibly happen? Well, we learned how quickly that can happen. Anyway, a very nice place. I doubt if I'll ever go back. :D