Two Miles from Hell…

Palo Duro Canyon trailside view | Photo credit: Justin Moore

Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park (Canyon, Texas)
Time of Year: Late July
Weather: Sunny and hot, high 100+ degrees
Activities: Hiking, photography

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is, by far, one of the most beautiful Texas parks we have had the pleasure to visit. After spending the prior three days in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, we found the rugged canyonlands of Palo Duro provided an especially stark and memorable contrast. In just ten hours of highway travel, the snow-capped mountains surrounding Estes Park, Colorado, gave way to the vibrant red, purple, yellow, and orange hues of Palo Duro’s 800-foot-high canyon walls. Sounds heavenly, right? [Read more…]

Sultry Hill Country SNA

West Verde Creek Campsite (#130). | Copyright © Shannon D. Blackburn

West Verde Creek Campsite (#130) | Photo credit: Shannon D. Blackburn

Location: Hill Country State Natural Area (Bandera, Texas)
Time of Year: Mid-June
Weather: Sunny and humid, highs in the upper 90’s
Activities: Camping, hiking, birding, photography

This visit was inspired by a severe case of “camping withdrawal”, having not camped since a January visit to Bastrop State Park. After a crowded visit to Garner State Park in early June, Hill Country State Natural Area, with over 5,000 undeveloped acres and 36 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails was the perfect antidote. [Read more…]

Enchanted Rock Misadventure

Wildflowers and the pink granite domes of Enchanted Rock. Copyright © Shannon D. Blackburn.

Wildflowers and the pink granite domes of Enchanted Rock | Photo credit: Shannon D. Blackburn

Location: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (Fredericksburg, Texas)
Time of Year: Mid-May
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 40% chance of thunderstorms, mid-80s
Activities: Hiking, birding, photography
Submitted by: Shannon Blackburn

We arrived at Enchanted Rock at 8:30 AM, a half hour after the park opened. When we arrived, all of the granite domes were obscured from view by a dense fog bank. As the fog lifted, we were awed by the transformation the park undergoes in spring: thriving patches of wildflowers (black-eyed Susans, verbena, Mexican hats, morning glory, etc.) and gurgling streams have replaced the parched pink earth we are accustomed to from prior visits in late August. [Read more…]