Category Archives: Desert

PALO DURO CANYON STATE PARK

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TXPhoto copyright Ashley LandisSince I first started 24inTX, I’ve wanted to go to Palo Duro Canyon.  It’s is truly one of our state’s biggest and brightest gems.

The stunning canyon opens up before you as you drive through hundreds of miles of flat land in the Texas panhandle.

It’s been a main attraction for over 12,000 years.  The canyon walls offered resources and shelter to the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa tribes, as well as Spanish explorers before it became a state park in 1934.

I learned all about the history of the canyon while I was there, but first I had to make the 500 mile journey from central Texas to the panhandle.  If you’re keeping track at home, that’s an 8-9 hour drive, and I documented every hour!

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BALMORHEA STATE PARK

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It’s a true oasis in the middle of the west Texas desert.

When planning my trip out to west, I had a whole list of places I wanted to go.  Balmorhea wasn’t one of them.

I looked at the map, studying small towns along I-10 on the way to Marfa.  I saw Fort Davis and Fort Stockton and a few others on my wish list, but then I saw Balmorhea State Park.

Hmm…how do you even pronounce that?  I looked it up on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department web site and, much to my surprise, Balmorhea moved up to the top of my list.

It’s a tiny town about an hour north of Marfa in west Texas.  It’s in the middle of the desert, surrounded by mountains, and home to San Solomon Springs and the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool.  (Among other surprises.)

Balmorhea is the perfect place to make a refreshing stop for the night on your way to or from Big Bend Ranch State Park or Big Bend National Park.

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MARFA

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Marfa!  What a quirky little town!  I live near Austin and let me tell you, Marfa could show Austin a thing or two about being weird.

In fact, the majority of people I met in Marfa were from Austin.  So much so that if you were from Austin, you didn’t need any further explanation about what brought you out west.

One of the main attractions in Marfa is art.  Art galleries outnumber restaurants in this little town, and in the past few years Marfa has been known for it’s large, outdoor installments.  The most famous of those is Prada Marfa, a “storefront” situated out of town in the middle of nowhere.

It was my first stop of many on my 24-hour trip, mostly because it was about a half hour out of town.  Take Hwy 90 west from Marfa, through Valentine and it should be about 2 miles out, on your left.  You can’t miss it.  (The drive through the desert is worth it!) Read more