Thursday, November 24, 2016

Adventures to Palo Duro Canyon and Bosque del Apache

Like last year, we went on a long road trip before Thanksgiving to visit places we wanted to visit for some time - Bosque del Apache National Wild Life Refuge in New Mexico. Since it would be a ~ 11 hours drive, we stopped midway, at Palo Duro Canyon State Park at Texas panhandle.

This trip was an adventure in many ways. Taking routes less traveled opened our eyes, changed our perspectives - miles-long trains, forest of thousands of wind turbines, straight country roads that run 30 - 50 miles into horizon, expansive cotton field, water holes, cattle, irrigation systems ....   and the changing colors of foliage, land, sky, cloud and plants - golden, yellow, green, black, white, blue ....

Palo Duro Canyon has great landscape, amazing trails, it is second only to Big Bend in Texas! 

Tens of thousands of migrating birds and water fowls at Bosque del Apache made us in awe of nature!

We had a few mishaps before and during the trip - my van's battery died the evening before the trip, the elastic cord in a tent pole broke (luckily) right after we took down the tent, and a flat tire in the early morning on our 3rd day of the trip ...  we took all of them in strides, solved each problem as it came .... they made us stress a bit, but did not dampen our spirit or spoil our mood.  I actually learned to fix tents! As far as experiences at the destinations and on the road, this is the best short trip we have ever had. So I share our trip itinerary here.

Day 1, 2 @ Palo Duro Canyon

1. Leave DFW on Saturday morning around 8am
    route 121  ==> 380  ==> 287 ==> FM1151

    note; instead of I-40, we took FM1151 to get to Palo Duro Canyon so that we could enjoy the rural     expansive area on panhandle

2. Arrive at Palo Duro Canyon ~ 3:30pm
    set up tents at camp Hackberry 

3. Hiking on Lighthouse Trail @ 4pm  - to see the famed light house rock formation (~ 6 mile round trip)

    note: a. beautiful scenery, easy hike most of the trip, the last 0.25 mile to the lighthouse is                                 strenuous, may need to be on 4 limbs to climb. It is worth the effort.
             b. return trip would be in dark, bring flashlights

4. Picnic for dinner 7 - 9 pm

5. Walking around the camp under the beautiful starry sky

     note: remember to bring heavy coat for the cold night and morning

6. Hiking @ Sunrise on GSL trail for only 0.6mile - sunrise was ~ 7:47am  - not too early

     note: beautiful scenery, crisp air and amazing sunrise

Turkey visit to our camp

7. Breakfast and Hiking on GSL trail, turn around at 1.5 mile marker

     note: balanced rock and remote view of light house rock

8. Leave for Bosque del Apache  ~11am

Day 3, 4 at Bosque del Apache

1. Arrived at Bosque @ 5:30pm  to see sunset and sandhill cranes and snow geese - flight -in - return to their roost

    note: we were late for the flight in - should be at the roost area before 4:30pm

2. Stay at Best western hotel at Socorro, NM, which is ~ 20 miles north from the refuge

     note: dinner at Bodega Burger

3. See sunrise (day 3) and sandhill cranes and snow geese - flight -out  (6:40am)

4. Auto tour around the wildlife refuge  (12 miles loop but may take 3 - 4 hours to view wildlife)

     note: take short hikes on boardwalk trail, J P Taylor Trail and stops at various locations

5. Hiking longer trails after lunch (cancelled due to flat tire - had to go back to town to replace tires)

     note: lunch at  El Camino Restaurant

6. sunset (day 3) and see sand hill cranes flight -in. (No sunset due to dark clouds in western sky)
note: dinner at Domino Pizza - pizza, chicken wings and salad

7.  Back to Bosque del Apache for sunrise and sandhill cranes and snow geese flight -out  - due to sunny morning forecast

Sand hill cranes fly out at sunise
     note: wonderful crane flight out, and magnificent/massive snow geese in the beautiful sky

8. Drive home via 380 ==> I-20 (again route less traveled to see different places).

NOTE - driving on less traveled roads is great, but the consequence of potential hazards is more severe - there could be nothing within 50 miles, no cell signals either. Be prepared for the adventures!! maintenance of your vehicle, food and water, spare tire ... 

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