We had just one day to explore Big Bend National Park. Our original plan of a 2-day stay was foiled by leaking water lines and not one, but two visits from a mobile RV repairman. Them’s the breaks…but we arrived to our rescheduled campsite just outside the park and pulled in between a couple whose father/father-in-law lives just down the road from our old Mariposa, California home, and a young couple who are living and traveling (since 2020) in their giant 5th wheel…along with their 5 children.
This has been our favorite hike of the trip…so far. Just under 5 miles with enough elevation gain to test us. Watching the massive rock formations catch the morning sun as it rose was spectacular. I’m afraid the photos don’t do it justice.
With the afternoon ahead of us, we drove the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive stopping along the way at points of interest. Our goal was to reach the Rio Grande River, signaling the end of the road and the border between the United States and Mexico.
And now it’s time to leave Texas behind. We’ll be hitching up Minnie and heading west tomorrow. See you in a few days.
What a surprise today’s outing was. Our effort to outrun the high winds across New Mexico allowed us an extra day in the Texas Panhandle. The state park at Palo Duro Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, awaited. At roughly 120 miles long and with an average width of 6 miles, it is the second-largest canyon in the United States. Reg had researched and read good reviews for The Lighthouse Trail, so we packed a lunch and off we went. We were a little skeptical of finding gorgeous scenery as we drove south from outside Amarillo, where the views go on for miles.
The day was expected to reach into the mid-80s although we expected it to get a little warmer along the trail. There were plenty of warnings to carry lots of water and reminders to reapply sunscreen. There was even a sunscreen dispenser at the trailhead for unprepared hikers. It was all just a little intimidating. Probably not a good choice for a summer hike.
Our information assured us there would be quite a few benches placed along the trail…and there were, but most were in the full sun. A nice spot to rest weary feet, but not much help hiding from the heat of the day. I paused for a quick photo, then we pushed on.
As we reached the base of The Lighthouse, we saw folks scrambling up the hillside ( left photo), obviously off the main trail. Choosing to remain on the trail, and thinking we’d have an easier climb because of it, we were faced with this mini-canyon of rocks (right photo) to hoist ourselves up and over.
Reg stands below the 300-foot-high Lighthouse formation, marking the end of the 3-mile trail. We climbed a little higher, but were stopped by the ridge of rock shoulder-high that would have required some pushing and shoving to get ourselves any higher.
We found Palo Duro Canyon State Park to be a hidden gem. Miles of hiking trails cross the park, numerous picnic areas and camping sites are available throughout. We were glad to see the park in spring. I would think summer would be dangerously hot.
Oh, and those high winds we hoped to escape…they arrived out of nowhere tonight, blowing through our campground with gusts of 40-50 mph. Batten down the hatches, its going to be a wild night.