Palo Duro Canyon St Park, March 2019


The Woodland Hiking Club organized a hiking trip to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas to explore some of the off the beaten path features of this canyon created by the Praire Dog Town Fork of the Red River. I recently joined the club and this was my first hiking trip with them. I had seen the same article in the April 2018 Texas Parks and Wildlife about the slot and box canyons in Palo Duro and a local hiker, Bary Nusz, that had found many of these out of the way features. The river has cut through layers deposited during during the Permian and Triassic periods. The canyon is 120 miles long, up to 880 ft deep and up to 20 miles wide. This was my second visit to Palo Duro but the first time was in 1987 (a long time ago….)

Bary and his wife and son guided us off trail to visit slot canyons and a box canyon before the weather cut our trip short.

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The first hike with Bary was to visit a series of slot canyons in Cita Canyon. There were no trails to this area and we needed to climb out of the main canyon, over a plateau and drop down into this more remote canyon. This required a bit of scrambling in sections. Bary indicated that he has found many of the remote slot canyons in Palo Duro by studying satellite images, looking for the rock formations that are typical of slot canyons.

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This is a view across Palo Duro Canyon from the plateau above the canyon near the Big Cave as we head for Cita Canyon.

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Bary’s wife, Aimee leads the way. You can walk right into the upper Cita Canyon slot. The slot reaches about 25 feet deep. Slot canyons are typically formed by water erosion of a soft rock formation like sandstone. The narrow canyons are not a place to be during a rainstorm.

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Helen moving through upper Cita Slot Canyon

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The water has carved a narrow passage through the rock creating the unusual patterns (and colors) in the walls.

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Lower Cita slot canyon. We had to approach this canyon from the outlet because there was a massive boulder near the entrance that was not passable without climbing gear.

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We visited several Hoodoos on our second day of hiking to another slot canyon. The Red Star hoodoo is along the established Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail. Bary has climbed up to the base. Hoodoos are formed where softer material is eroded away under a harder rock that balances on top. Eventually, the column will no longer support the rock on top and it will fall off.

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Members of the Woodlands Hiking Club on the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail.

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Devils Tombstone Hoodoo – Not much holding the top rock up. Just for perspective, the thickness of top rock is about the height of the average person

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The beautiful rock formations along the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail.

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Jenny and Helen following Bary off trail to another slot canyon in the Sunday Canyon. We had to scramble boulders again to move up the canyon to the slot.

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The Sunday Slot Canyon required a ladder and rope to climb up 2 ledges to get to the slot. Here Bary’s son, Derik, steadies the ladder as Gerry climbs up to join Helen and Bary.

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Jenny and Bary exploring the Sunday Slot. The slot climbed all the way out of the canyon onto the plateau above.

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Great views of the rock formations in Palo Duro.

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The most popular trail in the park is the Lighthouse. For a perspective, note the people on the left side at the base of this massive hoodoo. As you can see the sky began to cloud up and rain and wind was coming (20-40mph wind).

Link to Tx Parks & Wildlife article

Categories: Hikes

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