…means “staked plains” or “palisade plains.”
However you translate it, it’s a huge high mesa that covers much of the Texas panhandle and is bounded by the Caprock Escarpment on its south-eastern edge. It may well be the escarpment that inspired the description of “stakes” or “palisades”.
(This picture, by the way, was borrowed from the blog of Myra H. Macilvain, an award-winning writer of Texas historical fiction. She tells lots of great stories on her blog. You should definitely check it out!)
Y’all know that people often characterize Texas as “flat”, and it’s definitely not. Not all, anyway. But the Llano Estacado is guilty as charged, sloping only about 10 feet every mile.
So what do you think? If you were a Spanish explorer encountering such a scene for the first time, what would YOU name it?