Palo Duro Canyon is a popular place in the summer for local visitors and tourists, but it is also known for extremely hot temperatures that can be harmful to people and their pets.
Many visit the canyon to hike the trails and enjoy the scenery. However, some are learning it can be dangerous.
“We run upwards of over 100 calls a year for heat-related injuries or illnesses,” Laramy Estel, State Park Police Officer, stated.
Park officers said most of the issues stem from people not drinking enough water to keep their bodies hydrated.
“I’ve seen everywhere from it being people having headaches and it being dizzy to people actually passing away,” Estel said.
It is recommended to carry at least 1 gallon of water per person when on trails and to bring snacks like protein bars or pretzels.
Wearing proper clothing is also essential to keeping safe and cool.
“You need to have a good pair of shoes whether it’s hiking boots or trail shoes and light-colored, cool, cotton fabrics,” Estel explained.
Park officers also ask that people take advantage of what they provide.
Many trails are equipped with sunblock dispensaries, thermostats, water fountains and volunteers.
“The lighthouse trail is one of our most beautiful trails out here, but it’s also one of our deadliest,” Bailey Hess, Palo Duro Canyon volunteer, stated.
With at least one fatality every year, volunteers are doing their best to prevent heat-related deaths by giving out water and information.
“If you start feeling dizzy or you start feeling lightheaded or having a hard time breathing those are all signs you need to slow down or think about turning around,” Hess said.
Park staff is asking people to consider the heat when bringing your furry friend along.
“There’s two ways our dogs regulate their body temperatures and it’s through panting and through their paws. The ground right now is about 125 degrees,” Hess said.
One way to cool them down is to put them in the shade and put water on their fur and areas around the neck.
Park staff encourages people to always go in a group. Depending on the trail, there isn’t always cell phone service so traveling in a group can help in case there is an emergency where you or a friend may be overheating.
Park officers say if you are on a trail and feel you need immediate service to not hesitate and dial 9-1-1.