Palo Duro Canyon Tailwinds

Wouldn’t you know it?! Texas has a Grand Canyon of its own in the middle of its panhandle called Palo Duro. And the best way to see it is from the saddle of a horse while riding at the bottom of the canyon floor.

We’d been wanting to go horseback riding for the past few months, but something always interfered with our plans, or time wouldn’t allow. But Leah was determined.

“If you can ride in a balloon, then I get to ride a horse,” she declared.

And true to her word, reservations made on Thursday got us an early ride time with Jennifer at Old West Stables inside the state park.


stables1 (2)

We mounted Buster and Lloyd,

our ride

and rode along an unmapped equestrian trail that took us along the foothills of the canyon walls…

on the trail2

and through the hills and ravines of a basin carved by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River over one million years ago.

We passed colorful rock formations resulting from a geologic compression of four distinct periods layered over the course of 250 million years.

canyon wall.jpg

While I enjoyed the scenery, and the quiet of the canyon,

canyon peak

canyon strata

I had the disadvantage of riding behind Leah’s horse, Lloyd.

Leah and Lloyd

Lloyd was a farter who always positioned himself behind the lead horse.

on the trail3

And no matter how many times I tried to hold Buster back…

on the trail4

…we would always find our way back behind Lloyd’s swishing tail,

Buster follows too closely

where Buster was always greeted with a slow and steady current of foul wind, followed by an evacuation.

The hour passed as easily as Lloyd’s breakfast, and we found ourselves back at the stable, in time for Lloyd’s lunch.

back at the ranch

Once finished, we took a ride back to the lodge at the top of the canyon for a better perspective of the second largest canyon system in America,

canyon vista1

overview detail

before returning to the basin’s scenic road to explore the Big Cave,

BC trail

an opening in the red rock that’s not as big as it’s unusual.

cave entrance

cave mouth1

Big Cave inside out

cave opening (2)

The Texas panhandle is as flat as a cowpie, and wide as the open sky.

Airstream sunrise1

Thankfully, Palo Duro Canyon provides some variety to a linear landscape, and adds some color to a pale prairie palette.


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