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Author Topic: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park  (Read 3027 times)

Chris

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1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« on: March 24, 2008, 12:29:37 AM »
Here are the details of our family spring break trip to Palo Duro Canyon.

We left out at 10:00 PM, after I had worked all day. I wanted to drive through the night, so that the traffic would not be bad.
It was 655 miles one way. I started out driving and drove through Houston, and up I-45 until we reached hwy 287. There was a stretch on 287 of about 107 miles without any turnoffs, so I let my wife drive while I caught a little nap. My wife really doesn't like to pull the TT, but she agreed since I hadn't had any sleep, and it was a straight stretch of road with almost no traffic.
I got woke up almost two hours into my nap by the sound of rain on the windshield. We ran right into a cold front. The weather got pretty nasty, so I took the wheel back over.

If you ever find yourself getting sleepy while driving, try this. I always bring a big can of mixed nuts, and eat them slowly one at a time. It works wonders keeping you awake.

We arrived at the park around 11:00 the next morning. The cold front had moved through, and it was pretty windy and cold.
We went in to get our site assignment, and that is when the first negative part of the trip began. There was a burn ban in effect! That meant no camp fires! This was a real bummer for us, because we love to sit out at night by the fire. My wife had brought lots of marshmellows for roasting. It was dis-appointing, but we understood the circumstances.
So, with our site number in hand we headed out. There was a 10% grade going down into the canyon, which the Chevy handled very well. I did start smelling my trailer brakes by the time we made it to the bottom, so I will have to adjust them a little.
The scenery was awesome going down into the canyon. The roads are paved well, and the camp sites are nice and level.
We got the TT spotted, set up, and settled in for camping. We pretty much just relaxed the rest of the day, with a visit to the visitors center, and the gift shop. That evening we met some really nice folks around the campsites. The couple right next to us had a huge telescope set up, which they let us look through that night. We got to see saturn with the rings and all. We also got to see some uhhh, I forgot what you call it, but the guy told us that it is where stars are born. It looked like a cloudy area in the sky, with a few stars inside of it. Anyway, it was an interesting night.
The next day was beautiful. It would have been perfect had it not been for the wind. This is when the second negative part of the trip happened. I left the awning out while we went sight seeing, and we returned to find that the wind had blown so hard that my awning ripped about eight inches along the roller.
With the ripped awning behind us, we set out to see the rest of the canyon. There are some good hiking trails, and bike trails. They have lots of activities for the kids, some were a little too childish for my kids, but others they enjoyed.
We had called in advance, and scheduled a 2 hour Jeep tour at the Elkins Ranch. The Ranch is located at the entrance to the State Park. The tour was great. It took us to different parts of the canyon, that were deeper than the State Park.
Our tour guide was very knowledgable about the history of the canyon, and made the trip interesting.
The next day, we went to the Cadillac ranch. Other than the fact that I can say that I've been there, there is not much to see there. It's just ten cadillacs buried nose down in a field. The kids enjoyed painting their names on the cars with the paint cans we found lying around, but after about two minutes of that they were ready to go.
My boss had told me about a steak house in the area, that I had to go see. It is called The Big Texan. The food is great! The atmosphere was very nice there. All the waitstaff were dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, and the place had an old saloon feel to it. They have this challenge that they advertise. They will give you a 72 oz. steak, baked potato, salad, and three fried shrimp. If you eat it all within an hour, it's free. If not, it will cost you $72.00. No, I didn't try it. They have it in a case for you to see, when you walk in the door. That steak is huge! 4-1/2 lbs. of meat.

The trip home was uneventfull. I drove the whole way, just stopping for gas and to eat. We left the Park exit at 7:00 AM, and pulled in the driveway at 8:00 PM.

Other than the burn ban, and the ripped awning, the trip was great. I was real nervous about driving that far, but everything went well. The TT pulled good, and the Chevy did it's job.

The damage: 1540 miles, 10.35 mpg, 148.81 gallons of gas at an average of $3.20/gal. $476.57 worth of gas!
This was our longest trip yet. I gained some experience, some wisdom, and some courage for our next trip.


« Last Edit: March 24, 2008, 12:33:07 AM by Chris »
Chris, Christy, Taylor, and Justin
2004 Chevy Crew Cab 2500 4x4 6.0L
2003 Starcraft Aruba 25BH
Soon to be at a camp ground near you!

BernieD

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2008, 08:41:24 AM »
Chris, Christy, Taylor, and Justin

Sounds like you had a great trip and it was enjoyed by all, mishaps notwithstanding.

Next time in Amarillo, try to be there on someone's birthday. The Big Texan gives you a full steak dinner free with proof of birth date.
Bernie & Marlene Dobrin
Home is Goodyear, AZ
Missing our Travel Supreme

Ron

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2008, 11:31:16 AM »
Thanks for the trip report.  Sounds like you all had a great time.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

KodiakRV

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2008, 08:15:47 PM »
...
The next day, we went to the Cadillac ranch. Other than the fact that I can say that I've been there, there is not much to see there. It's just ten cadillacs buried nose down in a field. The kids enjoyed painting their names on the cars with the paint cans we found lying around, but after about two minutes of that they were ready to go.
...

Last time I saw them was in 2001 -- they were pretty well rusted out back then.  Are they holding together or have they buried new ones?

Glad you had a good trip!
Frank
Florida

Wendy

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2008, 09:36:18 PM »
Sounds like you had a good time. Glad you had a relatively uneventful trip and enjoyed yourselves. But the next time you feel sleep, forget the can of nuts, just pull over and take a nap.

Wendy
Lake Weist, Brawley, CA
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
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Chris

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2008, 12:33:45 AM »
Last time I saw them was in 2001 -- they were pretty well rusted out back then.  Are they holding together or have they buried new ones?

Glad you had a good trip!


No, they haven't buried new ones. They are the same old heaps. They tend to get a fresh coat of paint on them periodically from everyone painting their names on them. They are pretty rusty right where they go into the ground though.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2008, 12:46:39 AM by Chris »
Chris, Christy, Taylor, and Justin
2004 Chevy Crew Cab 2500 4x4 6.0L
2003 Starcraft Aruba 25BH
Soon to be at a camp ground near you!

TVEDE6

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2008, 05:01:15 PM »
Hi!
Glad you enjoyed the canyon. Only time we've been there was last Nov on the way to Pensacola.  Seeing that gulch was an impressive surprise! Even more interesting was the background on the parks development---all pick & shovel work by CCC troops. There are a lot of  parks in the country that had similar origin, but I'll wager this one must have been one of the most difficult---especially building the road down to the canyon. After that hop-scotched via Lake Colorado City SP, Inks Lake SP, McKinney Falls SP (Austin) and Lake Livingston SP--all excellant examples Texas State Parks--wouldn't stay anywhere else!
Tweedy

Chris

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Re: 1450 mile round trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2008, 10:53:59 PM »
Actually, Inks Lake SP was our first choice for our spring break vacation. They were booked solid. We barely got a spot at Palo Duro SP.
I have heard lots of good stuff about Inks Lake, but I have never been there.
Chris, Christy, Taylor, and Justin
2004 Chevy Crew Cab 2500 4x4 6.0L
2003 Starcraft Aruba 25BH
Soon to be at a camp ground near you!

 

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