Palo Duro Canyon is located in the Panhandle of Texas, near Amarillo. Palo Duro has been called “The Grand Canyon of Texas” since at least 1934, and is sometimes called “little Grand Canyon” and “Grand Canyon of the High Plains.” The multicolored layers of rock resembling the Grand Canyon regularly draw tourists to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Wikipedia: Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment in the Panhandle of Texas (USA). As the second largest canyon in the United States, it is roughly 120 miles long and has an average width of 6 miles, but reaches a width of 20 miles at places. Its maximum depth is 800 feet. Palo Duro Canyon has been called “The Grand Canyon of Texas,” both for its size and for the dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls which are similar to those in the Grand Canyon.
The canyon was formed by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River which winds along the relatively flat Caprock of West Texas. Water erosion over the millennia has been aided by wind erosion to shape the canyon’s geological formations.
Notable canyon formations include caves and hoodoos.
The painter Georgia O’Keeffe who lived in nearby Amarillo and Canyon early in the 20th century, wrote of the Palo Duro: “It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color.”
Wikipedia: Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park — one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
The longstanding scientific consensus has been that the canyon was created by the Colorado River over a period of six million years, but research released in 2008 suggests a much longer 17 million year time span. The canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of more than a mile (1.6 km). Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. The “canyon started from the west, then another formed from the east, and the two broke through and met as a single majestic rent in the earth some six million years ago. [...] The merger apparently occurred where the river today, coming from the north, bends to the west, in the area known as the Kaibab Arch.”
During prehistory, the area was inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon ("Ongtupqa" in Hopi language) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran with a thirst for science and adventure, made the first recorded journey through the canyon on the Colorado River. Powell referred to the sedimentary rock units exposed in the canyon as “leaves in a great story book”.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
“The Grand Canyon of Texas”
Palo Duro Canyon State Park opened on July 4, 1934 and contains 26,275 acres of the scenic, northern most portion of the Palo Duro Canyon. The Civilian Conservation Corp of the 1930’s constructed most of the buildings and roads still in use by park staff and visitors.
The Canyon is 120 miles long, as much as 20 miles wide, and has a maximum depth of more than 800 feet. Its elevation at the rim is 3,500 feet above sea level. It is often claimed that Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. The largest, the Grand Canyon, is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft. deep.
Palo Duro Canyon was formed by water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. The water deepens the canyon by moving sediment downstream. Wind and water erosion gradually widen the canyon.
Early Spanish Explorers are believed to have discovered the area and dubbed the canyon “Palo Duro” which is Spanish for “hard wood” in reference to the abundant mesquite and juniper trees.
Humans have resided in the canyon for approximately 12,000 years. Early settlers were nomadic tribes that hunted mammoth, giant bison, and other large game animals. Later, Apache Indians lived in the canyon, but were soon replaced by Comanche and Kiowa tribes who resided in the area until 1874. At that time, Col. Ranald Mackenzie was sent into the area to transport the Native Americans to Oklahoma. Col. Mackenzie and the 4th Cavalry were able to capture over 1,400 horses belonging to the tribe. After keeping some of the best horses for themselves, the remainder were taken to nearby Tule Canyon and destroyed. Cut off from their only means of transportation, the Native Americans soon surrendered.
In 1876, Charles Goodnight entered the canyon and opened the JA Ranch. At its peak, the ranch supported more than 100,000 head of cattle. Goodnight operated the ranch until 1890. Although only a fraction of its original size, the JA Ranch remains a working ranch today.
5 August 1934, Amarillo (TX) News-Globe, pg. 2, col. 7 ad:
Be sure and visit
PALO DURO PARK
“THE GRAND CANYON OF TEXAS”
EASILY ACCESSIBLE ON GOOD ROADS—
ONLY A SHORT DRIVE FROM AMARILLO
DON’T MISS SEEING
THIS WONDER OF NATURE!
16 March 1941, Amarillo (TX) News-Globe, pg. 1, col. 5:
Palo Duro Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Texas, is open to the public 12 months in the year.
14 April 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “Legend of Treasure on Trails of Palo Duro Draws Interest,” pg. 31, col. 1:
He called at the gate to the little Grand Canyon of the High Plains the other day to discuss a project for launching a search for treasure.
State Universities and Colleges:
A Guide for Prospective Students
by Roy Hoopes
Washington, DC: Luce
Also nearby is Palo Duro State Park, called the “Little Grand Canyon.”
Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanches
by Clyde L. Jackson and Grace Jackson
New York, NY: Exposition Press
The Palo Duro Canyon was a favorite camping place. It has been called the Grand Canyon of Texas.
20 February 1966, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 4C, col. 8:
They (Aoudad sheep—ed.) have apparently been thriving in the state’s “Little Grand Canyon area” in the Palo Duro Canyon and for the last three falls limited controlled hunts have been authorized.
10 August 1969, Port Arthur (TX) News, “Texas! Discovering the Lone Star State with Frank Oliver,” pg. 9, col. 3:
Join the thousands of Texans and Southwesterners who visit the Grand Canyon of Texas...the rugged and awesomely beautiful Palo Duro Canyon.
June 2003, Texas Highways, pg. 28+:
Grand Canyon of the High Plains: Palo Duro
by Susan Kirt
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, May 29, 2008 • Permalink