Palo Duro Canyon is located about an hour south of Amarillo, Texas and about two hours north of Lubbock, Texas. While attending Texas Tech University during the Fall 2015 semester, I had the chance to go hike the lighthouse trail at Palo Duro Canyon, along with Ferryn Lynne, and some friends. Knowing it was going to be hot, you know we were sure to stock up on water before we left town, but little did we know.
The drive to the canyon was uneventful, and for a kid from Massachusetts it was sorely lacking in trees and curves. Probably the strangest thing was all of a sudden seeing canyons appearing in the flat Texas landscape as we approached the canyon. Normally, in New England, the ground doesn't seem to just drop out into nowhere, and if it does you're standing at the top of a mountain. As we approached the entrance, you could see the red rock and the difference in the vegetation that covered the ground. Even in just the change from Lubbock to the canyon.
We arrived at the top of the canyon, took some photos, and headed off down the road (literally down into the canyon) so that we could get to the trailhead and begin our hike. The hike is a 3 mile in, 3 mile out hike down the lighthouse trail, not the New England type of lighthouse though. I don't think it was until we were in the canyon, though, that we realized just how hot it as going to be that day. After grabbing our bags, water, and cameras, we began heading to the trailhead, where a nice thermometer greeted us with the 106 degree temperature on it.
It was too late to turn around now. We were committed to completing our hike, no matter what happened. Luckily for us, the hike in was just a normal walking pace, with some goofing off, and a lot of sweating. Eventually we got to a spot where you could see the lighthouse, and that only made us speed up a little more. The last few hundred feet are the only real areas where there was an incline so that you begin your climb up the lighthouse. I had set the personal goal of climbing all the way to the very top of the lighthouse, but it wasn't until we reached a "second top" that we saw there was a 7' straight wall of rock that would have to be traversed for us to reach the very top, and since there was a 40' drop off next to it, I wasn't about to try.
After some photos of the view, and a little bit of relaxing, we heard some thunder in the background. So off we went to get to the car. We made sure to keep a good pace, because no one wants to get stuck in a canyon when the rain comes down. After a fast paced exit, a quick stop at the store, and making sure we had everything, we were off. Our final stop on this adventure was the famous Big Texan for a great meal in Amarillo.