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On the Edge

Texas’ dramatic cliffs offer a sense of grandeur.


Expansive rock faces can bring a sense of wonder, a spark of imagination. Standing at the edge of a cliff above an outstretched river, plains or desert vista might send chills up your spine, or you might be awestruck by the beauty and grandeur as you gaze up at a rock face. Foreboding or majestic, there are plenty of notable cliffs in Texas.

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 Sonja Sommerfeld | TPWD

Lover’s Leap

This limestone bluff rises above the Bosque River in Waco’s Cameron Park. The name comes from a tragic folktale in which two star-crossed Native American lovers chose to jump to their death in each other’s arms rather than face rejection from their community.

Caprock_16956

 Chase Fountain | TPWD

Caprock Escarpment

This hard-pan layer of colorful cliffs and canyons stretches for 200 miles across the Panhandle, forming the geological transition from the flat High Plains to the lower Rolling Plains. Erosion from 1 million to 2 million years ago carved the escarpment, which can be seen in places such as Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons state parks.

El Capitan_Lee-Hoy_8

 Lee Hoy Photography

El Capitan

“The Captain” is the most striking feature of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, thrusting itself up from the desert floor and serving as the face of the range. Its imposing height (the eighth-highest peak in Texas) and prominent position (the southernmost peak in the range) have made it a West Texas landmark for generations of travelers.

BonfireShelter

 Christine Heimsoth

Bonfire Shelter

This rock shelter, in a canyon above the Rio Grande near Langtry, is the oldest “bison jump” site in North America. Archeological evidence shows that herds of giant bison were driven off the cliff to the rocks below. The site contains layers of evidence of bison kills over thousands of years.

Hells Gate_0148

 Chase Fountain | TPWD

Hell’s Gate

The twin 90-foot cliffs of Hell’s Gate form a gate-like structure opening into one of Possum Kingdom Lake’s southern coves. In the summertime, the area is covered with boats, especially during the lake’s Fourth of July fireworks show. Hell’s Gate has hosted a stop in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

Santa Elena-Canyon_3635

 Chase Fountain | TPWD

Santa Elena Canyon

The limestone walls of Santa Elena Canyon tower 1,500 feet above the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. The canyon cuts a deep, narrow gorge for seven miles, with Mexico on one side and Texas on the other. Rafters can view layers of limestone left by the ancient sea that covered Big Bend 60 million to 130 million years ago.



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