Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas panhandle southeast of Amarillo is one of the top Texas state parks we've visited. We spent a few days there, and this hike to one of the park's best known landmarks is detailed below.
We kinda piddled around most of the morning - the time when we should have been hiking.
I assumed we would do the Lighthouse Trail early one morning when it was cool since it is six miles. But the temps were only in the 70s at noon, so we decided to go ahead and do it.
We threw on our hiking boots and filled our Camelbacks with water and snacks and drove to the trailhead.
I have to say it is hard to remain objective once you've hiked in Utah among the fabulous rocks and formations there.
So we were not particularly enthused about hiking three miles just to see the formation known as the Lighthouse. But we could use the exercise and we had to do the hike since we are here.
Had we come to Palo Duro before going to Big Bend, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks, we probably would have been more impressed. The layers of colors in the rocks are really interesting and pretty.
They have half-mile markers along the trail and rest stops like this one in between.
There's our destination in the distance.
It got hotter as we hiked, but the wind blew all day keeping things a bit cooler. Plus we had plenty of water, sunscreen, and our wide-brimmed hats.
The first two and three quarters miles are pretty easy. Slight ups and downs along the canyon floor.
But if you want to climb up to the Lighthouse, that last quarter mile includes a really, really steep section and the trail is somewhat washed out.
It's actually a lot steeper than the photo above shows and care is required not to slip and get a foot caught under one of the "steps".
Almost there. Later I tried to climb up on the rock to the left, but it was just a little too dangerous for me.
Linda stopped in the shade at the base of the Lighthouse while I continued on. Nice view of the canyon from up there.
Another view of the canyon from the backside of the other rock. I just couldn't quite get on top of the rock to get both the Lighthouse and the canyon from above.
Lighthouse from another perspective.
After the extra climbing for photos, I went back and joined Linda in the shade.
She was resting and checking things out with her binoculars.
I changed lenses to get a better shot of the colors in the rocks from above.
They call those areas with the layered colors Spanish Skirts. From a distance you can imagine the colorful flowing dress of a lovely senorita at a fiesta.
We had our little spot all to ourselves as the smart people hiked earlier in the day. :) But we enjoyed resting on the rocks, taking in the view, and listening to the varied songs of the mockingbirds. Alone with nature - just the way we like it.
Eventually, we descended and headed back down the trail.
The light was improving for photos as we walked.
Then we encountered a beautiful Western Collared Lizard with its greens, yellows, and blues contrasting with the red dirt.
It climbed up on a rock and posed for us.
Wow! It's so much fun for me to get this kind of shot of wildlife.
We thanked our friendly lizard and kept moving toward the trailhead. We were ready to be done with our hike, so the Jeep was a welcome sight, but we certainly enjoyed today's trek.