Summer Vacation 2013: The Year of the Canyon: Palo Duro Canyon SP, Amarillo, TX

We spent two wonderful nights at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Amarillo, Texas.

This post is extra super heavy duty photo heavy, it was our favorite park, I promise fewer photos in upcoming posts.

The park is billed as the second largest canyon in the United States, after Grand Canyon.

Driving along we're on nice flat land, kind of desert like ... then all of a sudden we're on a windy curvy road with a huge canyon next to us. Kind of blew us away! After passing the canyon we're back on nice flat land. So weird.

The park is in the canyon, so we had to drive to the bottom of it, kind of scary for a driver used to very flat land and not positive yet that pulling the camper with a minivan is the best idea. As River told his father, "Mommy was FREAKING OUT." Yeah, pretty much.

But it was so worth it.

As we were setting up in our campsite a couple of mule deer came to visit us. We made certain to not entice them or feed them, but it was very obvious that they were comfortable with people. Our campground also had turkeys roaming around and visiting.

The view was just amazing.

The weather was very different than what we were used to. Dry heat, 100' days and very moderate evenings, and then at night the wind picked up significantly for an hour or two. The wind was a topic of conversation through Texas and New Mexico, but that middle of the night wind caught me off guard.

Of course, being the Florida water family that we are the first thing we did was look for the "river" in the canyon, the one that formed the canyon. It was amazing to imagine the little stream we found creating this huge canyon. The stream turned out to be a real treat mid-afternoon, with cool soothing water, perfect late in the afternoon right before the temperatures dropped.

The kids had a great time climbing and exploring. I got nervous, of course, but they had no fear at all (except for River, no fear of the heights or climbs, but the cacti with super long needles he could do without). Throughout the park there were very different terrains and rock formations and types. Just terrific.

In the visitor center/museum I struck up a conversation with a fellow tourist and told him we were going to the Grand Canyon. He surprised me when he said that most people who went to Palo Duro Canyon before going to Grand Canyon were disappointed in Grand Canyon. I wasn't sure what he meant, but I heard something similar from a neighboring camper in Albuquerque. I opted to not take that seriously.

After getting home and looking back most of us agreed this was our favorite park. The park wasn't overly crowded, the campground was only about half full and the trails were virtually empty giving us the feeling that we had the park to ourselves.  Most certainly a park we'll stay at again.

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