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Views and more views
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.
Rim Trail (Rylander Fortress Cliff Trail)
This description is for the Rim Trail. The park map shows a trail called the Rylander Fortress Cliff Trail and doesn’t show a Rim Trail. The Rylander Cliff Trail is an old road that follows along the cliff about 0.2 miles in from the cliff. When I walked along this trail, it appeared that very few people use it, and it is overgrown with grass and cactus. What I’m calling the Rim Trail is a heavily used trail that follows right alongside the cliffs.
Once on the canyon's rim via the Rock Garden Trail, the Rim Trail immediately heads to the north, following alongside Fortress Cliff. There are great views over Palo Duro Canyon all along this trail. The trail is easy to follow but gets a little faint as you approach the endpoint at “Fractures in the Rock,” 2.8 miles in. A couple of places along this trail, large cracks are apparent along the rim where eventually the edge will break away, hopefully not while you are standing on it enjoying the view. “Fractures in the rock” is one of the eerier of these fractures. The vegetation along this trail is grassland juniper forest with a spattering of yucca. The return trip can either be back along the Rim Trail, or you can take the Fracture in the Rock Spur Trail to the Rylander Fortress Cliff Trail back to the Rock Garden Trail (as the park map shows). I took the Rylander back, and it was totally not awesome, so take the Rim Trail.
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.