Officials warn of heat risks in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Emergency rescues have occurred every day since last Wednesday in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, in relation to high heat risks.
Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 10:01 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2023 at 10:20 PM CDT
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CANYON, Texas (KFDA) - Emergency rescues have occurred every day since last Wednesday in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, in relation to high heat risks.

A 17-year-old hiker even died on Tuesday afternoon.

Now that summer has begun, the majority of emergency rescues in the Canyon area are usually heat related.

Local agencies like The Canyon Fire Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Police, Randall County Fire Department, and BSA EMS are all on standby.

Officials tell me the most common rescues in the summer months are heat related, with 90 percent of them being on the Lighthouse Trail.

“When you’re at the rim of the canyon, it’s about 10 degrees cooler up here; you get 10 degrees hotter when you get to the bottom, but that’s not even really the worst part about it. The canyon floor actually got incredibly hot just the other day last Wednesday; it got to 140 ground temperature,” says Thomas Milone, Assistant Superintendent of Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Other than staying off the trails between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and never hiking alone, officials say hydration is key.

“You want to make sure you bring plenty of water, good rule of thumb is for every 30 minutes you’re going to be out there, bring a bottle of water, or for every mile, you’re going to hike, bring a bottle of water and the golden rule when you run out of half of your water, it’s time to turn around and go back to the parking lot,” said Milone.

Texas Parks and Wildlife and The Canyon Fire Department remain busy with rescue calls becoming more prevalent. Responders also have to stay prepared.

“We’re just as susceptible as everybody else’s, so we have prepared for that. So we need to make sure that we’re staying cool. We’re drinking fluids, stuff like that. The other challenge is, of course, the terrain. We’re not just able to walk out there to them,” says Firefighter and EMT for The Canyon Fire Department Daniel Bynum.

Canyon firefighters receive special training to be able to perform canyon rescues and must bring special equipment.

“We also have an ALS bag which means if we have a paramedic or an advanced EMT with us that day that they can perform more ALS care, such as giving somebody an IV and starting on fluid to kind of bring that body temperature down a little bit quicker,” explains Bynum.

Officials want to remind you of the importance of pet safety on the trail, make sure you are bringing enough water for yourself and your pet.

With the ground temperatures reaching up to 140 degrees, your pet’s paws are susceptible to severe burns.