I am sooooo not a camper, but when my husband tried to lure me to spend a night in the cabins at Palo Duro Canyon State Park it was the promise of a starlit sky that lured me into agreeing with him. I still had beautiful memories of the two other places where I was overwhelmed by the stars, Yosemite National Park and on a sailboat anchored in the middle of the ocean near the British West Indies. At the time this did seem like the perfect place to stop for the night to break up the 10 hour drive from Fort Worth, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Unfortunately for us, we read the email sent to us by the park months ago just prior to arriving at the park…just a bit too late… as we didn’t bring the pillows, blankets, sheets, and towels needed for the cabin. Luckily the park rangers had some clean supplies.
Since we arrived at the Cow Camp cabin after dark we were unable to see the landscape as we descended to the base of the canyon. It was very dark and very cold. I knew I was in trouble when Benjamin, after the first trip from the car to the cabin, looked me in the eye an said the cabin was, “very basic”. Made me laugh so hard…I know he thought I was going to scream out loud when I saw it. But I had seen photos of the 1930′ stone cabins and they seemed clean enough and after all, I knew we were in a beautiful place even though I hadn’t seen it yet.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, according to the park rangers, is the most popular state park in Texas and the canyon itself, though much smaller, is second in size to the Grand Canyon…so how bad could it be??? Basic was an understatement, but what it lacked in comfort it made up for in laughs, and memory making, and the absolute awesome beauty of the canyon that we were finally able to see at sunrise! It was worth roughing it!
I continually reminded Benjamin that he absolutely knew I was NOT a camper when he met me and he appreciated the sense of humor that masked my fear, at least for a little while, until the sounds from the metal garbage can being bounced around scared me near to death. Did I mention that the park rangers said there were bobcats in the park?
I didn’t sleep much, didn’t drink any water so I didn’t have to go out to the bathrooms until daylight for fear of running into whatever wonderful wildlife was out there and I didn’t see any stars due to cloud cover but I would still do it again, albeit differently…like staying in the local hotel and visiting the canyon during the day! However, if you are a camper and want to visit the park you must reserve early (we reserved at least 4 months in advance and only the camp cabins were available) so you can get one of the cabins up on the rim that are still basic, but have great views. You can bring your horses or rent them during the summer months to see the canyon from an entirely different and I assume very awesome perspective. You will love the park rangers, they are so nice and warm and helpful, and the canyon is truly a site to see. Be sure to eat breakfast at the Ranch House Cafe 810 23rd Street, Canyon, Texas, very local and everything is made from scratch including the green chile sauce. Happy Camping!