Palo Duro Canyon State Park 

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In the Texas Panhandle, about 15 miles southeast of Amarillo, the flat, endless plains are cut open by the Prairie Dog Town fork of the Red River forming Palo Duro Canyon. It is the second-largest canyon in the United States, about 120 miles in length and covering some 400,000 acres.  The depth varies but is around 800 feet deep. 

The bright orange/red rocks of the Quartermaster (Permian) formation give the canyon its distinctive look, and provide photo opportunities all day long. 

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park covers 20,000 acres at the head of the canyon. Click on the map to see more detail. More information about the park can be found here.

Two visits were made to the canyon in the spring of 2012: one in early April with Jim Pledger and Rick Capozza, and the second in early May with my mountain bike. There are a number of trails, easy-to-moderate, that can be ridden in a couple of days or one long one. 

Caprock Canyons State Park

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Southeast of Palo Duro are Caprock Canyons, a few miles north of the small town of Quitaque (pronounced "kitty-kway"). The canyons were cut from the surrounding plains by the Little Red River. Caprock Canyons State Park comprises about 15,000 acres and is home to the official Texas bison herd. The geology is similar to Palo Duro, but the canyon walls cut into the Quartermaster formation seem much more red.

More information about the park can be found here.

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North of Quitaque, FM 207 crosses a canyon formed by Tule Creek with some interesting rock formations, and an old windmill and well house that was built in the late 1920s by the Joiner family.  I've included some of these photos as well.  

The visit to Caprock Canyons and Tule Creek took place in early April with Jim and Rick on the way back to Austin. It was a foggy day, as you will can in the photos.

All photos were taken with my Nikon D200 and Nikon AF-S 18-200mm lens.

Click on the drop-down menus above to view the scenery shots.

Banner photo: The Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon near sunset. 

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© Tom Lebsack 2014