Discover Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Welcome to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the breathtaking gem of the Texas Panhandle. Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the United States, stretching approximately 120 miles long, up to 20 miles wide, and plunging 800 feet deep. This natural wonder offers diverse landscapes, from rugged cliffs and vibrant red rock formations to lush green valleys and picturesque trails.

Established in 1934, Palo Duro Canyon State Park spans over 28,000 acres, providing outdoor enthusiasts with many recreational opportunities. Whether you’re an avid hiker, mountain biker, horseback rider, or someone who loves to take in stunning vistas, this park has something for everyone. Its extensive trail system covers over 30 miles, featuring popular routes like the Lighthouse Trail, which leads to the iconic Lighthouse rock formation, and the Capitol Peak Trail, offering panoramic canyon views.

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Top 3 Facts about Palo Duro Canyon State Park

01

Historical Significance

Palo Duro Canyon has a rich cultural history, with evidence of human habitation dating back over 12,000 years. The park contains artifacts from Native American tribes, such as the Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa, who once roamed the canyon.

02

Geological Wonders

The canyon’s stunning rock formations, consisting of multicolored layers of sandstone, siltstone, and shale, tell a geological story that spans millions of years. The canyon walls’ vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues result from iron oxide deposits, creating a striking landscape that changes color with the shifting light of the day.

03

The TEXAS Outdoor Musical

Since 1965, Palo Duro Canyon has been home to the outdoor musical drama “TEXAS.” This long-running summer production, performed in the Pioneer Amphitheater, showcases the history and culture of the Texas Panhandle through song, dance, and pyrotechnics, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Where to Sleep

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Mason Street Getaway

555 Mason St, Saugatuck, MI 49453, USA
Number of Guests 5
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 2
Sq Footage 1,165
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$475.00 / day
sparkles New

JP Rest House

V262+C5P, Manikganj, Bangladesh
Number of Guests 4
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 4
Sq Footage 2,400
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$300.00 / day
sparkles New

Juniper Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$198.00 / day

Hemlock Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$194.14 / day

Greenash Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Dogwood Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Camping and transportation in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Are you coming by car? The most common route to Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a drive from Amarillo, just 25 miles to the northeast. If you’re flying in, you’ll likely land at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA). From there:

  • Exit the airport and join I-40 East
  • Take Exit 116 onto US-287 South
  • Continue onto US-60 East towards Canyon
  • Turn left onto Brown Road/State Loop 335
  • Turn right onto TX-217 East, leading you to the park entrance

Places to Stay Near Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Inside Palo Duro Canyon State Park

  1. Cabins
    • Cow Camp Cabins: These historic stone cabins offer a rustic yet comfortable stay within the canyon. They are equipped with basic amenities, including air conditioning and heating and a porch with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
  2. Campsites
    • Primitive Camping: For a more adventurous experience, the park offers primitive campsites that provide a closer connection to nature. These sites are perfect for backpackers and those looking to experience the canyon’s tranquility.
    • Developed Campsites: The park has several developed campsites with amenities such as water, electricity, and nearby restrooms and showers. These sites are suitable for tents, trailers, and RVs.
  3. Glamping
    • Palo Duro Glamping: For a luxurious camping experience, consider glamping in one of the park’s well-appointed canvas tents. These tents have comfortable beds, air conditioning, and private outdoor spaces.

Outside Palo Duro Canyon State Park

  1. Canyon, Texas
    • Hudspeth House Bed & Breakfast: Located in the nearby town of Canyon, this charming B&B offers cozy rooms, a delicious breakfast, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. It’s just a short drive from the park entrance.
    • Buffalo Inn: This budget-friendly motel in Canyon provides clean, comfortable rooms and convenient access to the park and the town’s amenities.
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Best Time to Go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Summer

Summer

Summertime at Palo Duro Canyon attracts those who love sunshine and longer days, but preparing for the heat is essential. Average temperatures soar into the 90s, peaking even higher in July. If you’re up for an early morning hike or a late evening stroll, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and cooler temperatures.

  • Reasons to visit in summer:
    • Extended daylight hours
    • Sunshine abundant
  • What to consider:
    • Heat: Can be intense; stay hydrated and wear sunscreen
    • Activities: Great for stargazing and sunrise views
Winter

Winter

Winter is a tranquil time to visit with fewer visitors and the potential for winter sports if conditions are right. Accessibility can vary with unpredictable weather, so checking conditions beforehand is wise. Average temperatures hover between the high 30s and the low 60s.

  • What to expect:
    • Possible snow, leading to a serene park atmosphere
    • Cooler days suitable for brisk hikes
  • Considerations:
    • Check ahead for trail closures
    • Prepare for colder weather conditions
Spring

Spring

Palo Duro Canyon comes to life in spring with blooming wildflowers and moderate weather. With average temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the high 70s, this season offers a comfortable climate for hiking and nature walks.

  • Typical weather conditions: Mild with an occasional rain shower
  • Highlights of visiting:
    • Witnessing vibrant wildflowers
    • Ideal conditions for outdoor activities
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Fall

Fall brings a stunning display of fall colors to the park, making it a picturesque time for photography and cooler hikes. September and November see average temperatures ranging from the low 50s to the mid-70s. Seasonal events may also coincide with your visit, providing unique opportunities to engage with the park.

  • Fall exclusive:
    • Beautiful foliage
    • Seasonal park events

Must-See Attractions

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Lighthouse Rock

The iconic Lighthouse Rock formation is perhaps the most famous landmark in Palo Duro Canyon. The Lighthouse Trail is a moderately challenging hike, approximately six miles round trip, that leads to this stunning rock formation and offers breathtaking views.

Pioneer Amphitheater

Home to the “TEXAS” outdoor musical drama, the Pioneer Amphitheater is a must-visit, especially in the summer. Nestled against the canyon walls, it provides a unique and picturesque setting for this long-running show that highlights the history and culture of the Texas Panhandle.

Capitol Peak

This impressive formation, accessible via the Capitol Peak Trail, offers another vantage point for stunning canyon views. The trail is popular with hikers and mountain bikers and offers several loop options.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Check the park’s website for the latest information on park hours, entrance fees, and any potential closures or restrictions.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Wear sturdy, comfortable hiking boots or shoes with good traction. Layer your clothing to accommodate temperature changes throughout the day.

Respect Wildlife

Be Aware of Wildlife

Keep a safe distance from wildlife and never feed animals. Be aware of snakes, especially during warmer months, and watch where you step and place your hands.

Stay Informed

Choose the Best Time to Visit

The park can get extremely hot in the summer, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F. Spring and fall offer more moderate weather and are ideal for hiking and outdoor activities.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas” and is celebrated for its stunning geological formations, including vibrant red rock cliffs and unique rock formations like the Lighthouse.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park covers over 28,000 acres of land within the Texas Panhandle, making it the second-largest canyon in the United States.

Visitors can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and attending the “Texas” outdoor musical drama during the summer months.

Yes, the park offers over 30 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. Popular trails include the Lighthouse Trail, Capitol Peak Trail, and Rock Garden Trail.

Yes, the park offers both developed and primitive campsites. Developed campsites have amenities such as water and electricity, while primitive campsites offer a more rugged experience for tents and RVs.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit when temperatures are milder, making outdoor activities more comfortable. Summer can be hot, but early mornings and evenings are still pleasant for exploring.

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