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Promised you a Rock Garden
Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is located 25 miles southeast of Amarillo, in the Texas panhandle, and is the second-longest canyon in the US, and you can guess the first. The Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River is the creek that runs through the canyon. The canyon formed when the river cut down through the Llano Estacado Plateau as it was uplifted during the Pleistocene Period. This canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of Texas. The rock formations are of the Permian and Triassic periods. The lower Permian section was formed when this was a near-shore shallow marine environment. The upper Triassic layer was formed when this was a stream environment and forms the park's Sandstone cap rock.
Palo Duro gets its name from the Spanish meaning “hard stick.” This area was first occupied by Native Americans, the Apaches and then replaced by the Comanche and Kiowa. Coronado visited it in 1541, then around the 1870s ranching. It became a state park in the 1930s. A lot of history was glanced over in those last few sentences, and for more detail, it is readily available online.
The park’s paved road offers opportunities for sightseeing, camping, and hiking. There are over 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. With a look of a Minnie Sedona (minus the crowd), it is a worthy stop if you are anywhere near the area. Some of the Wildlife in this canyon include Mule Deer, Wild Turkey, Collared Lizard, Barbary Sheep (introduced in 1957), and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes. See park literature for more details.
Rock Garden Trail
The Rock Garden Trail is one of the most challenging trails in the Park, hard not because it is excessively steep or long but because it has the most elevation gain of all the park trails. Route stats for the Rock Garden Trail are for the reverse of this description. This trail starts at the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and goes up over 600 feet to the canyon's rim. The trail gets its name from the sandstone cap rock scattered all along the lower part of the trail. There are a lot of photo opportunities along this section. Halfway up, this trail levels off a bit before making its final ascent to the top. At this leveling off point are some great views to the south along Palo Duro Canyon. The Comanche Trail also crosses this trail at this point. The final ascent to the top is done with a couple of long switchbacks. Once on the rim, there is a trail that heads to the north that follows along the Fortress Cliffs and another 0.2 miles. The Rock Garden Trail ends at the Junction with the Rylander Fortress Cliff Trail. The overall trail condition is good, well maintained, and easy to follow. The Rock Garden–Rim Trail combination is one of three trails that I think is a must-do in this park. The other two are the Comanche Trail and the Givens Spicer Lowry-Lighthouse Loop.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.