Have you ever booked a vacation months in advance, and when the time finally comes it’s exactly what you need? That’s where Joseph and I were last week. We desperately needed a break from work. Things had been crazy for the both of us for a few weeks, but they were just starting to calm down enough that we didn’t feel guilty about taking a break. Lucky for us we had a wonderful trip to unwind and disconnect.
We spent two nights at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle. At 126 miles long, it’s the second-largest canyon in the U.S. (behind, of course, the Grand Canyon). And it’s beautiful.
Every sight was stunning. I knew it wasn’t going to translate well into photos, but ya know what? I took lots anyway. Just just gotta trust me that it’s 100x more beautiful in person.
We stayed in one of the “limited service” cabins in the park. Much of the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, including these adorable cabins.
The cabin was exactly what we wanted. It was secluded and it had A/C (essential during this time of the year in the Texas panhandle!)! We also had a mini-fridge and a microwave, both of which were really useful. We had to walk a bit to the bathroom, but we didn’t mind. Especially since the cabins were only $60/night.
Here’s my cute husband inside our cabin (isn’t it charming?), trying to put sunblock on himself. He got it all over his shirt.
It took us 6 hours to get to the canyon from Fort Wroth (with a break for lunch). But when we got to the canyon it was well worth it. We were tired, so we just hiked for a few miles the first day.
We were so excited to see the stars at night! Big and bright (clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas.
This is the best photo I could get without a tripod. In the bottom left corner you can see a bit of our cabin. We hadn’t seen the stars like this in several years.
I woke up early in the morning and looked out the cabin window to find wild turkeys!
Everything I read before and during the trip told me we needed to do the Lighthouse Trail, 3 miles each way. We got an early start (around 8am) to avoid crowds and heat. We only encountered a few people on our hike in, but on the way out we passed several crowds of hikers. I recommend starting as early as possible if you do this hike!
The terrain varies throughout, and each view is incredible.
Something about this view made Joseph and I both think of The Land Before Time.
I love this view of the canyon. It reminds me of a beautiful layered cake – lavendar, lemon, and then a coffee layer. Undecided what the bottom layer is. Maybe a red velvet that hasn’t be properly executed?
The famous Lighthouse formation! We didn’t realize to see this you have to do a pretty intense climb. Joseph made it about halfway up, and I continued without him (leaving my backpack behind – so this is a cell phone picture). It was a nice view, but you have to like scaling boulders to do it! I was exhausted.
Obviously only one of us liked the challenge… Not sure if you can tell, but at this point in the descent I had to shimmy down with my feet gripping the sides of the rock – the bottom was full of loose stones. This is not for the weak-ankled or those without proper hiking shoes.
A view on a different hike. Hard to believe this is just one park, right? Throughout the day we ended up hiking 3 different trails for a total of 13 miles. That’s a lot in Texas heat, especially for two people who are pretty out of shape ;)
Joseph is a weird photographer sometimes.
We were both excited to have a few days without TV, but all our outdoor excursions really exhausted us. We were too tired to play the games and read the books we brought. We ended up buying a deck of cards from the gift shop and spent a few hours playing gin rummy (while repeatedly checking the clock to see if it was yet an appropriate hour to go to sleep).
I borrowed a macro lens and spent a bit of time playing with it around our campsite.
I photographed plants, Joseph did an important camping activity. Roasted marshmallows for smores!
A shot to show you how beautiful and secluded the site was. Can you spot Joseph in the green shirt walking to our cabin?
Can’t wait to go back!