Sunday, August 19, 2018

FM-267: Scenic Layers of Time

For those of you who have followed me over the years on Facebook and previously on local television you most likely are aware that I enjoy the landscape of Texoma.

I especially enjoy finding hidden gem scenic highways not identified on other maps and guides.  Although I'll be honest I haven't checked the most recent edition of the Texas State Travel Guide for 2018 (or is the 2019 version already out?) to find if this one is on the list.

Earlier this year I stumbled upon FM-267 in Foard and Knox Counties.  We begin with a regional view followed by a more close-up view.

FM-267 (indicated by the orange dashed line) travels from the intersection with US-70, west of Thalia or east of Crowell south through Foard County.  It crosses into Knox County and ends up at the intersection of TX-114/US-82

In my opinion it is beautiful!

It's seems it's one of the most eastern locations in the state of Texas that truly looks like the western United States.  (Although one could argue that US-183/US-283 drive across the old Waggoner Ranch has similar features and it's located further east, but I digress).

What I mean by this is that this drive goes through two shallow canyons that have exposed red rock and layers of sediment that change color greatly.  The two canyons appear to have been formed by the North Wichita River and the South Wichita River.  

In addition to the widespread cacti, yucca plants, a few other succulents as well as grasses, cedar and mesquite . . . it creates a look of something out of the old Wild West movies.

Here's a picture of one of the Prickly Pear species growing on the side of the road.  This one appeared particularly healthy without any discolouring.

Let's take a look at the path of the road through these canyons.

Now keep in mind with the recent mid-August 2018 rains from thunderstorms the floor of the canyon is a bit greener than it usually is this time of the year and certainly greener than it would be during our brief winter season.

This photo above is the floor of the North Wichita River Canyon which is considerably wider than the the South Wichita River Canyon.  Take a look at a highlighted map to show the area viewed by the above photo through the canyon.

As you can see the road is a straightaway through the canyon floor.

The following picture shows the meandering of FM-267 through the South Wichita River Canyon.

And here is the map that corresponds to this area seen as you drive through.

The orange dashed line I created is almost straight but you can see the map below confirms the slight curving of the road as seen in the picture.

Now the above photos and maps just show you the location and appearance of the road.  

But it's the scenery on the edges of the canyon with all of the water erosion that exposes the beautiful colors of the rock, dirt and eroded sand.  The colors are bright oranges in many locations.

The last picture in that series shows an amazing erosion of what appears to be a sand stone (I'm guessing here, as I'm no geologist).  The pattern close up was gorgeous and intricate with two distinct angles of the pattern meeting.  Take a closer look.

Isn't it just gorgeous?  This pattern is just off the road and there is an area you can pull off and park safely to take a closer look.  It was fascinating to see the embedded pebbles and rocks in the different layers.  Maybe it's an old sea bed, it's my best guess before consulting a geologist.

But the point of the title I chose for this blog "Scenic Layers of Time" references the AMAZING changing colors in the rock and layers of rock.  (I think I've saved the best pictures for last)!  These shows unique alternating colors of oranges, whites, grays, browns and more.

Now I don't know a lot about geology but I know that different layers that change color, as seen in the rock of the pictures above, most likely indicate the layers were set in place over very long periods of time.  That's where I got my title "Scenic Layers of Time."

Here is one more look at the entire map with the highlighted canyons so you will have a good idea of where you are going.  That is, if you head out to Foard and Knox Counties to see this beautiful Texoma wonder.

It's a truly breath taking drive and if you decide to go just don't be in a hurry, have a curiosity of nature and take a camera.  You will see all of these amazing colors and formations.  It's like being in a canyon in similar parts of northern Arizona or New Mexico, even Utah (and frankly, just as hot).

I hope you enjoyed the journey.  These photos were taken on Sunday, August 19, 2018 by me.  Feel free to use them.

And, if you go and have a good time, let me know how it went.  I'd love to hear from you.  In addition, if you are a geologist and are familiar with the area I'd really enjoy learning more about it.  Just share a comment on the blog.

Thanks friends.

Bryan W. Rupp