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Palo Duro Canyon State Park trip report, August 27 & 28, 2017

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park trip report, August 27 & 28, 2017
« on: October 03, 2017, 02:21:10 AM »
I had visited Palo Duro Canyon State Park before and determined that it required a more thorough investigation, so on my way back from Wyoming I camped a night there.  I got there the afternoon of Sunday the 27th and set up camp.  I had just enough time to hike the Lighthouse Trail, which goes near the most famous landmark in the park, a rock formation called The Lighthouse.  The trail goes near Capitol Peak, which gives excellent exposures of the main rock units within the park:

17827004 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Most of the rock in this image is the Quartermaster Formation.  Although the canyon itself formed only within the last one or two million years, the rock units exposed in it are far older, in this case up to 240 million years old.  The red rock represents times when a shallow sea covered the area, with occasional drops in sea level that produced tidal flats which evaporated to leave gypsum deposits visible as thin white layers.  As time went on, the area stayed just above sea level, leaving area of rivers and swamps producing the more finely-layered rocks above, the Dockum Group consisting of the Tecovas and Trujillo Formations.  Eventually, the relative sea level fell enough so that the area was well above water, and deposition of sediments stopped, resulting in over 100 million years of erosion. Finally, at the top is a small deposit of the Ogallala Formation, the sediment of which came from the Rocky Mountains as they arose some 30 million years ago.  The Ogallala and Trujillo formations are more resistant to erosion than the underlying units and thus can form features called hoodoos, which are spires capped by more-resistant rock which protects underlying less-resistant rock.  The Lighthouse is one of these hoodoos.

As one hikes along the trail, eventually off the distance The Lighthouse becomes visible, in the upper right corner of this image:

17827007 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

On the trail, I spotted a Checkered Whiptail:

17827008 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Near the end of the trail, one approaches The Lighthouse; it's the hoodoo on the right:

17827011 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Disappointingly, one can't actually get to the object itself - the trail ends at the foot of a hill that's in front of it.  On the way out of the park the next day, I stopped by the bird blind to check out the action.  It turned out that there was a lot more reptile action than bird action.  There was an ant mound in the middle of the bird feeder area, and a Texas Horned Lizard had stationed itself nearby to gobble up any ants which strayed too close to it:

17828002 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

It was time to head back home, but Palo Duro Canyon State Park is another one of those places that deserves more attention in the future.


Offline bbbrain

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Re: Palo Duro Canyon State Park trip report, August 27 & 28, 2017
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2018, 07:26:03 PM »
good report on a cool place.  here we are about 10 years ago



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