Palo Duro Canyon offers scenery, adventurous hiking for spare time

by: SERGIO MADRID/Staff Writer

It’s not easy to get the day off when you’re working and going to school full-time.

But once in a while, that glorious day does arrive. Then the real question comes into play. What am I going to do?

I made an abrupt decision to take a hike at the best spot inside the panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park located near Canyon, Texas. With more than 30 miles of trails, a good day could be spent venturing through all the crater has to offer.

Taking the right companions can make all the difference. You don’t want someone holding you back. On the other hand, you don’t want a show-off nagging you about how out of shape you are. My go-to-guy for everything is Audio, my Catahoula. A dog plays many roles in an owner’s life. Audio has several, from wingman to copilot. He never lets me down. But, he can be a bit of an attention hog.

Weather in West Texas has a habit of being pretty unpredictable and rarely in your favor, but on Feb. 6, the skies in Canyon had just the right amount of clouds, with enough of a breeze to make the heat bearable. But, even with a nice day, you will need to remember to bring enough resources, especially if you have a canine partner. They will gurgle through water like a sponge.

Now that you’ve addressed all contingencies, it’s time to map your way through the maze of trails Palo Duro has. If you’re anything like me, you don’t care too much for the trails, as they can be too easy and boring. Keep in mind that they do make great guidelines if you happen to get lost, as they usually lead to a road.

On my day-long adventure, Audio and I took to the ‘Rock Garden Trail.’ This trail can be found on the backside of the canyon and will take you to the very top. As I said before, a lot more can be seen off trail, and if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon small cave-like craters underneath canyon walls.

hiking
Photo by: SERGIO MADRID

When climbing over some of the rocks, you may reach out to grab a branch or root, but look out for thorns. Be sure to keep one eye looking out for cacti and rattlesnakes. I have yet to see a snake, but it only takes one bite.

After a few hours, I reached a peak that was about 15 minutes from the top. Looking over the canyon, I was able to see the travelers entering and leaving the park, walking trails, and feeling the cool water from the river. When you listen in on the clutter of sounds passing through the canyon walls, everything will begin to zero out. That’s when your thoughts are in their purest form. And nothing beats the feeling of having no concerns in life.

Sometimes things can become hectic. So, next time your life becomes almost unbearable take the day off. I promise you won’t regret it.

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