Scenic USA - Texas
Prairie Dog Town Branch of the Red River
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website
Home to the Apache, Comanche, Kiowa and earlier Indian ancestors for centuries, Palo Duro Canyon's first European visitors were most likely Spanish explorers. The canyon was named for its mesquite and juniper hardwoods (palo duro) and not its impressive dimensions.
Often called The Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon is one of the longest canyons in the United States. Its walls of red clay and white gypsum were exposed by the flash floods of the canyon's rivers. Seeing the aftermath of a heavy rain, there's no doubt about the Red River name or the powerful forces of its rushing water. Scoured out by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, the canyon is over 900 feet deep in places and 120 miles long.
One of two major forks of the Red River, the southernmost Prairie Dog Town Branch gets its start in the Palo Duro Canyon. Here, Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanch Creek join together and head in a southeastern direction to the Red River. As the Red River continues on its 120 mile journey, the river forms part of the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park surrounds some of the most scenic sections of the canyon. This Texas Panhandle park, created in the mid 30s by Civilian Conservation Corps, is one of the most cherished state parks in Texas.
State Park Note: The latest park efforts see replacement of three of the six of the worst water crossings with bridges.
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