Day trips: Canyon close to home

Making it to the Grand Canyon from Portales within a few hours isn’t a feasible task. However, if that is what you’re seeking and only have a day to devote to travel, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a closer option.

According to their Web site, the Palo Duro Canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon and said to be the second largest canyon in the U.S. The canyon is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide with a maximum depth of 800 feet. Erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River caused the canyon to be formed. The canyon is deepened by moving sediment that flows downstream and it is widened by wind and water erosion.

Things to do while visiting the canyon include: Camping, horseback riding, hiking, nature study, bird watching, mountain biking and scenic drives. The canyon’s stone and natural formation allow for picnicking as well. Visitors can observe the towering multicolored cliffs and other scenery including mesquite plants, sunflower cacti and patches of juniper. The visitors center which includes a museum and museum store.

The musical show “Texas” will be performed Monday through Thursday starting June 9 and will run through Aug. 19 at the Pioneer Amphitheater at the canyon. The musical is about how settlers in the Texas Panhandle area came across the land and ultimately fell in love with it.

Prices for the show are:
• Adults, $27
• Children 12 and under, $23
• Senior Citizens (over 60), $25

How to get there
From Portales, take U.S. 70 east heading toward Clovis, turn right onto U.S. 84, take U.S. 60 east, crossing into Texas. Merge onto U.S. 87 south toward West Texas A&M. Turn left on Texas 48 and follow for 12 miles. Make a left turn onto Texas 217 which becomes Texas P5, and end at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Hours of operation
The park charges $3 per person ages 13 and up. All areas of the park are open seven days a week. The summer months tend to be their busiest part of the year and their hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (CDT) All visitors must exit the park before 10 p.m. Information: (806) 488-2227, ext. 100.

— Compiled by Paula Cronic