Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon is a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment located in the Texas Panhandle near the city of Amarillo, Texas, United States. As the second largest canyon in the United States, it is roughly long and has an average width of , but reaches a width of at places. Its depth is around , but in some locations it can increase up to . Palo Duro Canyon (from the Spanish meaning “hard stick”) has been named “The Grand Canyon of Texas” both for its size and for its dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls similar to those in the Grand Canyon. The canyon was formed by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, which initially winds along the level surface of the Llano Estacado of West Texas, then suddenly and dramatically runs off the Caprock Escarpment. Water erosion over the millennia has shaped the canyon’s geological formations. Notable canyon formations include caves and hoodoos. One of the best known and the major signature feature of the canyon is the Lighthouse Rock. A multiuse, six-mile round trip loop trail is dedicated to the formation. The middle portion of the trail can be hot with little shade, and hikers should take plenty of water. 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.”

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