This wilderness area preserves the largest exposed fossil reef on Earth, showcasing remnants from an underwater world that existed 260 million years ago when this part of West Texas was covered by the sea. Visitors can explore the park’s striking mountains or hike a stream bed through the winding limestone walls of McKittrick Canyon, where deciduous trees and other vegetation stand in vibrant contrast with the surrounding desert.

Ancient Sea Life

The Permian Reef was once home to a thriving sea of marine life, including sponges, algae, clams, corals, trilobites and sea urchins. The 8.4-mile Permian Reef Trail in McKittrick Canyon offers interpretive signs highlighting various aspects of this ancient sea and its diverse lifeforms.

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