2013 Sept: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
The canyon is 120 miles long and 800 feet deep. It is the second largest canyon in the United States.The exposed rocks in the canyon can be dated back 250 million years. The Canyon was formed by water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and is relatively young geologically.
The canyon was home to prehistoric tribes and later Indian peoples. The first known inhabitants of the area probably date back between 10,000 to 5,000 years ago.
In 1876 a group of army engineers, teamsters, and civilians entered the area to explore the headwaters of the Red River and conducted a topographic survey. In 1933, the state of Texas purchased land in the upper canyon to establish the Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park. The Civilian Conservation Corp under the direction of the National Park Service constructed the road in the canyon floor and other improvements. The park officially opened July 4, 1934.
The park receives over 500,000 visitors each year. A summer musical pageant, Texas, is presented annually in the outdoor amphitheater. The lower part of the canyon remains private ranch land.
See the 2013 Nov Palo Duro Gallery in the "Hiking" section for more detail about the trail systems in the park.