Explore Rugged Beauty in the Deep of the Heart of the Texas Panhandle
The Grand Canyon of Texas lies just outside of Amarillo. The Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon system in the country, located in the Texas Panhandle and ready for you to explore. The canyon is about 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and is up to 800 feet deep.
Explore, Hike, Bike, Equestrian Trails
From the Lighthouse to the Spanish Skirts
You will notice the beautiful colors of the four geologic layers as you descend 500 feet to the floor of the canyon. The canyon began forming a million years ago mainly through water erosion caused by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. The walls of the canyon tell a much older geologic story – about 250 million years old.
By studying the colorful features, you can see how the canyon is formed from different layers. One particular feature, visible from the canyon rim near the Visitors Center, are the Spanish Skirts.
- Quartermaster — oldest layer(250 million years) at bottom; red claystone with color bands of white layers of gypsum and shale.
The red color was created by the iron oxide present in the rocks. The greater the content of iron, the redder the color.
- Tecovas Formation — ”Spanish Skirts”, (200 million years) contains gray, yellow, lavender and gold colors mudstone
The Quartermaster and the Tecovas makes up the colorful, triangular layers known as Spanish Skirts.
- Trujillo Formation contains massive sandstone and mudstone; “layered boulders” (181 million years)
At this layer, red mudstone is predominant.
- Ogallala Formation is located toward the very top of the canyon wall and is a hard layer composed of sand, silt, clay and limestone