Palo Duro Canyon in November

December 12, 2015

I had the opportunity to travel through the Texas Panhandle during the middle of Thanksgiving. I took this opportunity to spend a few days at Palo Duro Canyon State Park just south of Amarillo. I’ve passed by this area so many times to and from Colorado, but my car was always packed and I’d have miles to travel before I slept, so Palo Duro never made it in the plans. This time, however, I stopped. And I’m glad I did.

First, I invite you to visit this gallery and see all my Palo Duro Canyon images. I’ll also be adding the same images to this gallery, but it will be a bit longer as this location is still a work in progress.

The gates at Palo Duro Canyon State Park do not open until 8:00am. This can pose a problem for photographers if you are not staying in the park. As I was with my family, and camping out in 20 degree temperatures was not an option, we stayed in nearby Canyon, Texas. So in order to shoot in the canyon at sunrise, I arranged with a park ranger to enter the park boundaries about an hour before sunrise. This kindness from the Park folks made all the difference on this trip. I was able to photograph sunrise both at the canyon rim and down on the trails, and the colors I enjoyed were magnificent.

Sunrise at Palo Duro Canyon was a magnificent sight to enjoy.

The sun peeks over the distant canyon walls at Palo Duro Canyon State Park on a cold November morning. Below me opened up the 2nd largest canyon in North America, more than 800 feet deep and hundreds of miles long. This area of the Texas Panhandle offers endless outdoor experiences, and sunrise at the canyon rim should not be missed.

One evening, I convinced my patient wife to accompany me on a 6 mile walk (round trip) to one of the icons of the park, the Lighthouse. This trail is the most popular in the park. As we walked the first three miles, we encountered many folks returning, but no one going our way. We arrived about an hour before sunset. We had the beautiful hoodoo all to ourselves. We explored, talked, took in the view, and enjoyed a sunset not soon forgotten. Our walk back as a nearly full moon lit the trail before us was both surreal and enchanting.

The Lighthouse, an iconic and well-known structure in Palo Duro Canyon, enjoys a cold evening in this Texas panorama.

With the moon rising in the east and the sun setting in the west, the Lighthouse at Palo Duro Canyon shows its orange color in the fading light of day. This panorama shows the view from the small plateau near this iconic rock structure in the Texas Panhandle, and below the canyon stretches for miles and miles.

As far as the technical aspects of shooting here, I’d suggest a tripod and a wide angle lens. I primarily used my Canon 11-24L and my 24-105L (just a bit). All images were shot with the Canon 5DSr, and the details are incredible.

On the way back to the Hill Country, I also had the opportunity to shoot both a cotton field and a crazy good sunset over a field of hay bales, and both seemed about as “Texas” as you can get.

A crazy beautiful sunset falls over a Texas field of hay bales.

The sunset was amazing over this Texas field. Hay bales were rolled and ready for the winter, and overhead wispy clouds drifted by as the sun set on the horizon.

If you like rugged Texas landscapes, I hope you get the chance to visit this remote part of our state. It is well worth the effort. Personally, I’d like to return in spring when everything is turning green and the wildflowers are blooming and again in Autumn when the trees are changing.

In the meantime, happy travels, everyone!

~ Rob

The week of October 20-26 is Native Plant Week in Texas. I’ve teamed with the Native Plant Society of Texas by sharing some of my Texas Wildflower images to help promote this week. Their motto is “native plants = healthy habitats.” You can read more about their efforts at

Of several images they are using, one is from Guadalupe Mountains National Park and depicts a yucca in front of El Capitan, Texas’ 8th highest point. This national park is about an hour’s drive north of Van Horn, Texas, and is the middle of the Chihuahua Desert.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is featured in this Texas image.

El Capitan rises from the desert in this image from Texas.

Another picture helping promote Native Plant week is a Texas wildflower image showing a deer in a field of bluebonnets. This bluebonnet image was captured in the Texas Hill Country in the Spring of 2012.

Bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country make for nice pictures

A deer looks at me looking at him in this bluebonnet image taken in the Texas Hill Country

For more Texas Wildflowers Images, see the Bluebonnets and Wildflowers Gallery.

For more Images from Texas, check out my Images from Texas website.

In my previous post, I had offered up a picture of the Austin skyline taken from the Milago’s roof. I visited this location several times this August in an attempt to photograph the bats of Congress Bridge as they departed on their way to find their evening meal. I needed a clear, calm sunset so the bats would show up against the orange sky. (If it was cloudy, they would not show up as well).

I finally had this opportunity this past Friday evening. The sky was clear, the colors were great, and the bats started their nightly departure just after sunset. It was curious, though, because I was photographing from the Austin Hyatt the week prior and the bats left about 7:30pm – 40 minutes before sunset. Not sure what was going on with their internal clock!

Nevertheless, the bats soared into the Texas Hill Country sky and made a plume of bodies heading south. This Austin Skyline image shows some of the more well know buildings in Austin such as the Austonian, the 360 Condos, the Springs Condos, and the Austin Hyatt. Ladybird Lake was hosting more than several sightseeing boats, and folks were gathered all along Congress Bridge to watch the nightly spectacle.

This Image of the Austin Skyline shows Mexican Free-tailed bats soaring into the night to find food.

Bats soar into the evening sky for their nightly search for food in this Austin Skyline Image.

For more Austin Skyline Images, please visit my business website at Images from Texas
or follow me on Facebook at My Facebook Photography Page

I’ve been photographing the Austin Skyline and street scenes a lot lately, along with a few portrait sessions sprinkled in, so when I had the opportunity to use my Texas State Parks Pass, I jumped at the chance. With my folks watching our two girls, my wife and I made the hour-plus trek out to Fredericksburg for a late afternoon meal, then drove on to Enchanted Rock State Park for a little time outdoors.

Enchanted Rock reaches 1,825 feet above sea level, and the elevation gain from the bottom is only 425 feet, so this is by no means a strenuous hike. Actually, it is pretty easy walk up, but the view of the Texas Hill Country from the top is pretty nice. If you want to hike around the structure, there are trails and campgrounds and even a small lake on the opposite side from the visitor’s center. The rock itself juts out of the land much like Ayers Rock in Australia. Composed of pink granite, it is the largest monadnock in the United States and is part of the Llano Uplift. Local Indian tribes such as the Apache and Comanche attribute a spiritual richness and power with the rock, and signs of human activity around Enchanted Rock date back 10,000 years.

All that being said, it is a nice way to spend an evening. Head out to Fredericksburg for some good German food or a burger, then to Enchanted Rock for sunset. If you make the trip in the spring, you’ll find the trails lined with wildflowers like bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush.

Enchanted Rock State Park affords quite a view of the surrounding Llano Uplift

Spend a lazy afternoon taking in the view at Enchanted Rock State Park outside of Fredericksburg, Texas

For more views of the Texas Hill Country, please visit My Texas Hill Country Gallery

For Texas Wildflowers, check out My Texas Wildflower and Bluebonnet blog