A few miles east of Canyon is...
A few miles east of Canyon is Palo Duro Canyon. As you drive out towards it, you're looking out over what seems to be a vast endless plain... then all of a sudden this huge chasm opens up before you. The state park portion of the canyon is but a small fraction of the whole, but it is plenty! You can simply take the drive down and make the loop around the park or you can stop and and hike to your heart's content. Palo Duro Creek meanders through the canyon floor and is a resource for all kinds of wildlife, from wild turkeys to the occasional bobcat. It's like a whole world all unto itself. If you're up for a long hike, you can even go trekking off in search of the famous lighthouse formation. Bring your camping gear if you're into that! Check the travelogue if you want to see more.
Palo Duro Canyon
Here I will show you a few more pictures from around the Panhandle. This first one is of Palo Duro Canyon as you drive along the road in the bottom. Notice the striations in the rock formations. The broad band of white is a heavy gypsum deposit layer. In other areas of the canyon, you will see red, yellow, and even purple layers.
A view from the canyon floor....
another floor view.... doesn't begin to capture some of the sights you will see from down there, though.
The Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. Fed by Palo Duro and Tierra Blanca creeks... running water in the outlying creeks used to be a more common occurrence before irrigation drained the aquifer.
Not far away is Ceta Canyon, which is a retreat run by the Methodist Church. One would never know such interesting areas exist in the Panhandle until one looks hard enough :-)
The picture's not mine, and I thought I'd give credit where credit's due by leaving the logo in - The Globe Online is a free online summary of the Amarillo Globe newspaper. Updated daily and no subscription? I don't know how or why they do it but I'm glad they do :-)
Another of my favorite places is the Caprock. Out by town like Tulia, Matador and Post, the Caprock marks the boundary of the southern plains. Below the caprock is basin country (and a lot of buttes in the Abiline area). This is a promo shot from Caprock Canyons State Park.
At the rim of Palo Duro, you'll see several cattle wandering. The canyon has long been home to the JA Ranch, founded by Charles Goodnight. The Panhandle was also home to the famed XIT ranch, which was a huge operation covering nearly half the region. They still hold XIT Days in Boys Ranch, Texas (about an hour or so north of Hereford on US385).