Travel Guide: 2 Days in Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Did you know Texas is the home to the second largest canyon in the United States? That’s right! Palo Duro Canyon is over 120 miles long and 6 to 20 miles wide making Texas home to the second largest canyon only coming behind the Grand Canyon. Tucked away in the panhandle of north Texas, most people don’t even know Palo Duro exists! In fact it looks like you just stepped straight into an Arizona desert. During the last year, I made it my mission to explore more of Texas. As a native, it seemed wild that I hadn’t visited some of the major attractions this state has to offer. Keep reading on for our full travel guide: 2 days in Palo Duro State Park and the best things to do.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park Map
Palo Duro Canyon State Park: When to visit
The best time to visit the park is during either the spring (March-April) or fall (October- November) months. Winter is a good time to visit as well if you don’t mind cooler temperatures but the nights can get pretty cold. During the summer there aren’t any water activities to help keep you cool, so you’ll want to be sure to follow safety precautions especially if you do plan on stopping in in the summer months. As always, please practice no trace and pack in plenty of water.
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Palo Duro Canyon: Where to Stay
Staying Inside the Park
Palo Duro Glamping
Located on the floor of the canyon, Palo Duro Glamping is the perfect way to enjoy luxury while being surrounded my nature. Camp out in a luxury safari tent that comes furnished with ac, fridge, micorwave, fire pit, games, bicycles, and more! You can check all their amenities and book a room here.
Camping in Palo Duro
Palo Duro has it all! From primitive campsites to full RV hookups you can choose the level of camping you’d like most. There are 3 campsites electricity hookups and restrooms and showers at each campground. View all the different campgrounds and what they offer/book your site here.
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Palo Duro Canyon: Things to do
Hike the Light House Trail
The Light House Trail is the crown jewel of Palo Duro Canyon and easily the most popular trail in the park. If you only have time to hike one trail while you’re in the park, make sure it’s this one.It is a relatively simple in and out trail with a total distance of 5.8 miles. The trail is named after the 300 foot high rock formation found at the end of the trail that resembles a coastal lighthouse.
Zip Line Over the Canyon
Just before the park entrance you can find Palo Duro Adventure Park where you can zipline over the canyon crossing which gives you an unmatched view of the canyon! They zipline from ages 12 months up to 103 years old! From the parking lot you’ll take a short ride over to the tower where you begin to make your way up. Prices range from $20-$40 depending on what you choose. We did the canyon crossing and it was only $30 per person.
Take a Sunset Hike by Horseback
Is there anything better than getting to experience the canyon than by horseback? It feels a lot like stepping back in time to the wild wild west. There are several stables you can use but we liked Palo Duro Riding Stables. They are located about a mile before the park entrance and they’re the longest running riding stables in the area. The really made it an experience that we won’t soon forget.
Explore Hidden Caves
The park is famous for having caves all over the place. There are some popular ones listed on the park map trails (above) but we discovered some off the map that we climbed through and out the other side. It was pretty cool to feel like we’d discovered something off the map. I found the trail on my AllTrails App. If you want to find this particular cave, you can find all the trail information here and even download the map so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. This was a super easy hike for us with a total distance of 0.9 miles out and back which is what we needed after hiking the Lighthouse trail the day before.
Texas Outdoor Musical
Texas Outdoor Musical is a family friendly show set in the summer months. The amphitheater is carved out and nestled into the canyon of Palo Duro and brings the history, struggles, and success of the settler of the panhandle to life. Check out their calendar here and be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time.
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Other Things To Do
If you plan being in the park for a while and have some extra time, there are some stops you might want to consider visiting, including;
The Big Texan
The Big Texan is located along Route 66 in Amarillo, just a short 25 minute drive from the park. It is home to 72 oz steak challenge where if one guest can finish the entire thing, he or she will receive her meal for free. It feels a lot like stepping back into an old saloon where there would have been a live band and the line dances happening in between the tables while customers dined. The food is delicious and there are Texan sized attractions outside!
You can’t pass up a quick stop at Cadillac Ranch along Route 66! Buy some spray paint from the cart outside the gate at $6 a can and leave your mark on one or all of the six Cadillac’s half buried in the ground.
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