This past weekend we drove to Canyon, Texas to visit Palo Duro Canyon for a weekend camping trip. I had visited Palo Duro Canyon when I was in college and loved the sights. I thought this would be a beautiful place to visit and have my kids explore.
We arrived at the canyon around 2 pm on Friday. The drive into the canyon is on this long and curvy road down into the bottom of the canyon where you camp. This drive is a bit difficult when you are pulling a camper due to that extra weight. I had forgotten about this part! Joel and I set up our campsite while the kids played around for the first hour. There was a chance of rain so we wanted to get everything set up and have some time to explore before it started raining.
We explored around our campsite, walking on the small trails right around it which led to other campsites or the Amphitheater. After a little exploring, we drove down the canyon roads to see other areas in the canyon that were a little too far for the kids to walk. We loved seeing the walls of the canyon and all of the nature surrounding us. The girls seemed to be enjoying the sights as well.
Luckily the rain held out long enough for us to make campfire quesadillas for dinner and a quick roast of marshmallows for smores. It started raining as we ate under our camper canopy. It wasn’t long and we were retreating into the camper for the evening due to the rain. It continued to rain for hours after that, late into the night. The wind was blowing and rocking the camper, thunder and lightning were nonstop! Joel was so nervous about flooding that he kept waking up and going outside to see if we were starting to have a flooding issue. Part of the canyon does flood where you cannot pass and you become trapped. Our campsite was above that flood plain but you never know when you are in a canyon. It is safe to say that no one really slept well that first night.
The next morning we woke up and attempted to have a campfire breakfast. It was still wet so we were unable to cook over the campfire. We have a camp stove that we tried to use that morning as well. No matter how hard we tried, it was not starting up, so onto plan c which meant moving into the camper to cook on the stove. I definitely understand why people prefer to cook outside of a camper now, it gets really hot inside when you are cooking. I finished up cooking and cleaning while Joel took the kids for a morning adventure walk. When they came back he said that everything was muddy and it looked like more rain was coming. If we wanted to explore we would
have to do it soon.
We got in the car and drove up the canyon a quarter of a mile to this trail that was short and kid friendly. It was completely muddy. The kids had their mud boots but I had
The turkeys and roadrunners run around the camps all day.
forgotten ours. We hiked on the muddy trail, getting lost because the signs were not easy to follow and trails intertwined along the way. We had to turn around at one point because the trail was closed due to flooding. It took us about 45 minutes to do a trail that was supposed to be less than a mile round trip. Once we got back to the car everyone was covered in the dark red mud. I was really happy about all that mud in my car…not!
Since we were already out and it wasn’t raining yet, we decided to drive around a little to see if any more trails were open. They were almost all closed, the only ones open were the equestrian only trails for horseback riding. None of the trails were stroller friendly so Mason had to walk or be carried. After seeing that we had hiked the only trail option, we headed back to camp to have lunch and find something to do at the campsite. Mason needed his afternoon nap and the girls needed a little break as well. At this point, the complaining was starting about being bored and how camping was not fun. As Mason napped, the older two complained and whined about having to stay outside. We were sitting outside the canopy doing a puzzle together and they were not having any of it. This was very frustrating for me because I’m not the biggest fan of camping but they have begged and asked for over a year to go camping. Yes this trip was harder because of the rain but we still were camping and they were hating it! It’s safe to say there were a few time outs during that quiet time.
After Mason woke up from his nap, we headed back up the hill to the visitor centers to see their miniature museums. Going to places like this with a one-year-old is so much fun! His favorite thing is to scream and listen to his voice echoing through the museum. Brooke and Mason ran around in circles with Joel and I trying to calm them and remind them that we were inside. It was one of those moments that you wanted to say, “I swear I have taken them in public before”. It was not long and we were leaving the visitors center and heading back to camp where the kids spent the rest of the day playing horseshoes and jumping in mud puddles. People drove by our campsite and laughed at the three kids covered head to toe in mud. We couldn’t go hiking because of the mud, they might as well enjoy the mud!
During this time we had a mini-traumatic moment when our Shih-Tzu started acting really funny. She was unable to walk on one of her legs and was hobbling around the campsite. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong and were starting to worry that she had been bittenplanned or stung by something. I took her into the camper and washed the injured leg, nothing seemed to be there and her foot was not swelling. We knew then that it wasn’t a snake bite, but something was definitely still irritating her foot. She kept licking it and whimpering. We had Benadryl so we gave her a tiny dose of that to help and within an hour she was able to walk on it again. Our guess is that one of the wasps that were swarming around our camper stung her. Thankfully it was minor.
We made dinner over the fire again. This time we cooked campfire french fries and burgers. The french fries turned out horrible and I strongly recommend that you never try this. We wrapped them in foil and threw them directly into the fire as the recipe said that I found on Pinterest. These fries burnt and raw in the same fries. Not to mention they had a horrible flavor. Basically, they were inedible after 45 minutes on the campfire. Following our disaster of a campfire dinner, I tried a different campfire dessert for the kids. We did a smore inside of an ice cream cone. We broke up the chocolate and stuffed marshmallows into the cone. Then wrapped it in foil and put it on the fire for about ten minutes. Everything melted inside of the cone making it a special treat for the kids.
It wasn’t long into dinner and the rain started again causing us to retreat once again inside the camper. The kids watched a movie and relaxed in their pajamas before going to bed. It was again a long night of listening to the rain and thunder. The next morning we decided to just get up and shut down camp so we could go home. There was more rain to come and we did not want to get trapped there until it was over. So we hurried with the packing up, got the kids loaded in the car with their breakfast and were gone by 8:30.
The drive home was a bit stressful. Mason threw up twice on the ride home, soaking his car seat and clothing. There is nothing you can do to clean that up on the road so the car smelled horrible for hours. Both girls had to go to the bathroom repeatedly and there was a ton of crying and attitude as we cabin drove the trip home.
Here is a cowboy cabin that they rent at Palo Duro Canyon.
It took us an extra hour with all of the stress along the way. We got home around 1:30 and sent all three kids to bed while we cleaned the car and camper out. I was so ready to get the mud and vomit out of my car that I could not stop until it was clean.
This was our last camp trip for the summer and it was a memorable one for us. I am not sure we will be taking on another camping trip with the kids for a while.
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