To Albuquerque - The Long Way... Palo Duro and Caprock Canyon State Park

So I'm going to be a grandma, the first time ever and there's going to be a baby shower in Albuquerque almost 11 hours away. Well of course I have to go. It's my first grandchild so I decided to make the most of the trip and find some places I could stop going and coming back. For several years I've heard Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo. I heard it was a fascinating Canyon probably the second largest in the nation. Yep I wanted to check that out.

So I started planning. Palo Duro Canyon has some really cool CCC stone cabins on the walls of the canyon. I tried to get reservations there before with no luck and this time was no different. The campground wasn't even available. That's what I get for putting off making reservations haha. So looked in the area to see if there were any other options and I found Caprock Canyon State Park. Thought it was maybe 45 minutes away which it ended up being further but that was okay. It looked like a great place to camp.

I found Caprock Canyon fascinating. I guess I didn't read the information on it very well because I didn't realize there would be a herd of buffalo roaming the campgrounds. Very cool. I chose a campground at the end of the road not realizing that it was also a primitive Campground. I knew some of the others were but that was ok.  I like primitive camping. It did have some nice out houses, they just were a bit of a walk LOL.  It was a beautiful drive to my campground and I enjoyed the views!

There were even some wonderful little prairie dogs that I got to enjoy. My campground was very desert like but it had a nice view of a rock formation. I had seen that when I picked out the site and was excited to have that as my backdrop. Unfortunately it was in the mid-90s when I arrived and setting up my tent was a very hot job. I decided to film it with my GoPro and that didn't help cuz nothing seemed to want to go together right and I was getting frustrated but it worked. 

It was quite hot and I had to take some breaks in the one little bit of shade that was in my Campground that was about 2 ft by 2 ft haha. I decided I needed to put up a tarp to that's a shame but with a height of the sun it didn't do much good so I added my rain tarp to hang down to to get myself some real shade. Then I realized I had no place to sit. I thought the campground would have picnic tables but it only had a fire pit and no place to sit.  Yes I did find myself sitting on the ground a couple of times but I decided I would have to make a run somewhere to see if I could get a chair.   Luckily I'd spoked at a Dollar General Store about 30 minutes on down the road.

I enjoyed my drive back out again getting to see more buffalo in the prairie dogs even got to see a buffalo rolling around in the dust have fun. I found a Dollar General store and got myself a chair and another little cooler that had a flat top that could be utilized as a cook table or a drink table and headed back to the campground for a nice evening under the Stars. I got back early and it was too hot to even think about dinner so just had some snacks and set up my chair facing the beautiful rock formations. I even took a quick hike up there just to see what I was enjoying and then came back and relaxed. I enjoyed the peace and quiet and the wonderful view. I stayed up fairly late that night enjoying the Stars.  It was still pretty warm when I headed to my tent for the night.

By morning it has cooled off and there was a slight haze, almost a Mist around. But I've been thinking about the heat that I knew was coming I should have taken off topology or a pretty quick but instead I enjoyed my morning ate some oatmeal and then took my time driving out of Caprock Canyon. I didn't have enough cell service have a nap so I really didn't know how long of a drive I had ahead of me. Once I got cell service it was still an hour and a half yeah I guess it was going to be getting hot. 

 I took the back way to Palo Duro even ended up on a fairly narrow dirt road I'm very flat country. I'm thinking and there's a canyon around here with all those beautiful rock formations? Finally got to Palo Duro about the time everybody else didn't had to sit in line for about 20-30 minutes just to get into the park. Stopped at The Visitor Center which wasn't much but the view is gorgeous. Took some shots and decided to head on to my trailhead. The ranger at the gate head discouraged me from taking the Lighthouse  Trail I wanted to take. It was supposed to get up over a hundred and she said there was no shade. Luckily I took her advice and took a shorter 3 mile trail.  There was a little bit of shade along the way. In the end not as much as I would have liked. 

I loaded up my pack with my camera gear put on my landscape lens start hiking one of the first things that Came Upon was a roadrunner with something in his mouth. Course I had on my landscape lens and settings for landscape but I'm madly try to get some pictures of them and then checked my settings started adjusting them in here came a bicyclist yep afraid bicycle list where all the trails and scared the Roadrunner off.  If I had realized at the time that it was a lizard he had hanging from his mouth I might have followed the direction he took off more and tried to find them again. Oh well.   

I ended up hiking about 3 miles an out-and-back the far end of the trail was much prettier with interesting Court Granger running through the rock formations in more shade. It was was getting hotter and hotter and I tried to keep hydrated drinking the water I carried it was now feeling quite heavy. I drank more hoping to lighten my load haha and I took out my long lens and put it on my camera so I didn't have that weight on my back also. It really wasn't a long hike but it felt like a long hike. The last half-mile back to my car there was no shade and by that time I was really hot.  I was more than ready to get to that car.  

 I unloaded my stuff into the very hot car and  turned on the air-conditioning, it wasn't working. Ugh. I have problems with it keeping his charge and I forgot to check it for the trip. Back home was in the 60s with rain.  I don't think I've ever been so hot. The wind by this time has started blowing and it was just like sitting in a convection oven with a hot hot wind blowing All Around Me rising up from the ground rising from the walls of the canyon. I later found out it was probably up near 110 record-breaking of course.   

I desperately needed a restroom and with my little map was trying to find where one might be and took off on down the canyon and I came upon a Trading post that serves food and had a little gift shop. I was so excited. Air conditioning and a restroom woohoo, so went in, hit the restroom and did a little shopping. I found myself a nice little hat in case I got back out in the sun because that's something I hadn't thought to bring. I then sat and relaxed and made a nice cold sandwich and visited with some of the other people there were finding refuge from the heat also.  Not sure how long I stay there but I went through lots of fluids. I guess even with what I had drank, I allowed myself to become very dehydrated.  

Finally I had to make myself go back out in the car knowing there was no air conditioning and the heat was close to unbearable but I came to see the canyon so I wanted to see the canyon.  I drove the full loop enjoy the views knowing that really to see probably the most of the beauty you needed to hide but I wasn't about to get out on the trails again. I still had a long drive back to my campground and part of me was even wishing I had just stayed there and hiked. It had lots of fascinating views also. Oh well.   

I enjoyed my drive back and once again got to enjoy the bison and prairie dogs as I drove back to my campsite. Unfortunately when I got back to the campground the neighbors that had come in late the night before were blasting their music and talking very loudly. I was hot and not in the best frame of mind and really did not enjoy having to listen to their noise while not all I really wanted to do was cover myself with a wet towel and take a nap. I've gotten pretty hot and wet towel really cooled me off.  

Finally when I couldn't take the noise anymore and it cooled off to a maybe 101° ha so I decided to hike around the trails that were near the campground. I saw some nice views and it felt good to move around a little bit again.  Wasn't as hot as it was earlier but I'm sure still was taking a toll on me as I felt just like I wanted to collapse and not do much of anything.  Luckily I'd eating a good lunch so again just a snack for dinner without having to cook it was nice. So I headed back to the campground and luckily the music had stopped and I was able to relax and enjoy nature the way it should be. Guess I really don't understand people who feel like they have to blast music when they're out camping,  sort of defeats the purpose of enjoying nature. But everybody is different. Oh well LOL.   

I setup my chair got me a nice beverage and again enjoyed the views around. What I failed to say was the wind was still blowing. It let up for maybe  45 minutes to an hour and I thought great, maybe I can actually sleep tonight because tarps have been really flipping around.  But no, about the time I decided to go to bed the wind picked back up had already taken down the outer tarp and loaded it up most of the stuff out of my tent into the car knowing I was going to have an early departure time the next morning. The wind was whipping  and I had to get up take down the second tarp.  That helped for little while but the wind kept picking up and picking up. It was a constant wind and then there was gusting winds and then there was what I assumed was like a straight line wind where you would hear it coming . You'd hear this Roar from a distance and then it would come in hit you and move on past.  This happened time after time. I could tell the stakes  were pulling up for my tent and the side was leaning in on me further and further. I tried opening and closing windows trying to find a formula that might work but at 12:30 I finally gave up.  

So in pitch black dark I finished loading stuff to my car, took down my tent in the roaring wind,  which was quite a chore, and went to sleep in the back of my SUV. Couple hours later I noticed my neighbors were doing the same thing. Guess their tents weren't faring any better.  I got up early the next morning after just a few hours of sleep and headed on to Albuquerque for the baby shower. Was a wonderful time getting to visit with family in-laws and celebrate that coming birth of my new grandson.  So exciting.  I was glad that I made the stop I did but it was good to be in AC with my family ha.