Learning About America, Three States Plus One at a Time
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Texas Tidbits: Palo Duro Canyon - Two Miles From Hell
Two Miles From Hell?
Having extensively travel around Texas, I can tell you from personal experience what are some of the more scenic vistas in the state. Easily earning a spot in the Top 5 is a place that describes itself as 30 miles from water and 2 miles from Hell - Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo. This big hole in the ground is a spectacular sight whether you've seen it once or 100 times. At 120 miles long and twenty miles wide in some places, it would probably take a hundred visits for you to see it all. The second largest canyon in the USA, Palo Duro offers dramatic views from anywhere in the canyon. As Wikipedia notes, the canyon has been inhabited by people for as long as 15,000 years, "The first evidence of human habitation of the canyon dates back approximately 10,000–15,000 years, and it is believed to have been continuously inhabited to the present day. Native Americans were attracted to the water of the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River, as well as the consequent ample game, edible plants, and protection from weather that the canyon provided." Soon after the Indians that lived in Palo Duro Canyon were removed to reservations in Oklahoma, famed cowboy Charles Goodnight established the JA Ranch in the canyon and for the next fifty years the land was in private hands. However, the area became such an attraction for local residents, that the State of Texas, in 1934, bought 20,000 acres at the north end of the canyon which became Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The park is now nearly 30,000 acres of Nature's Work of Art. The musical production "Texas" ( that's an older link but it's still got some great info there) has been a mainstay at the canyon for almost fifty years and has been seen by hundreds of thousands of folks. Those having seen the show have been giving it rave reviews since its first performance. Just ask my good friend Doreen Bob, she'll tell you all about it. Did I tell you that 'Texas" is performed outdoors on the canyon floor? Incredible. You can drive or hike all through Palo Duro (Spanish for "hard wood" by the way), but I think the best way to explore such a natural wonder as PD is up close and personal. On horseback, perhaps? There's so much more to the history and attraction of Palo Duro Canyon, I could stay here typing for days. In lieu of that, I'll ask you to click on the links in this post, look them over thoroughly and you'll get a ton of fascinating information and photos. To live in such splendor as Palo Duro Canyon, I'd walk 30 miles for water and tolerate being two miles from Hell.