Known as the “Grandest Canyon in Texas”, visiting this park in Northwest Texas will not disappoint. Palo Duro Canyon is located just south of Amarillo, in Canyon, TX. It’s an excellent place to spend a few hours or even a few days.
Sure, it took us countless hours to get there, but it wasn’t due to the lack of good highways and roads. It is just a long way from our home base in Northeast Missouri.
The park is reasonably priced, but not free. Admission fee of $8 for anyone over 12. Reservations can be made online or are available at the park gate, but availability is limited. The Texas State Parks website contains Covid-19 updates, reservation information and other park alerts.
The park has nice restroom facilities, which were important to me after being on the road for hours. Our “chosen ones” were clean and modern, although other facilities were closed for cleaning or updating.
The landscape is picturesque. The sun shining off the colored rocks that have been painted with nature’s paintbrush are really a sight to see. We’ve been 3 times and despite variations in weather, it is always a beautiful area. It can be windy, but what part of West Texas isn’t? I recommend bringing layers of clothing. At high elevation, the wind and temperatures can be cool, but down in the lower sections of the canyon the wind is blocked and you’ll feel warmer. If you plan to do any hiking or even a photo shoot, you’ll quickly warm up. The strong sun rays and the heat coming off the rocks make the temperature quite comfortable, even in November.
Driving through the canyon is possible and quite convenient. There are some switchbacks and steep grades but nothing too treacherous. You can’t get lost. Maps are provided at the entrance, but its not complicated with just one main road and a loop at the end. Parking is available in many lots or even along the road side. Pick a spot and get out and explore. Many trails- long, short, easy or challenging- are available. The park has designated trails for biking, hiking, horses and marked areas for wildlife viewing and scenic overlooks.
Abundant park wildlife is also a perk. Native animals live in the park and depending on the conditions, you’re likely to see some of them. In our short, couple hour visit, we saw many deer including a nice sized buck. A highlight was having a porcupine cross the road in front of us. Texas Longhorns were also grazing in the marked pasture near the entrance- not technically wildlife, but still interesting to see amidst the shrubs and grass/cactus land.
The state park is near the city of Canyon which has many amenities including shopping, hotels and great restaurants. After our time at the park, we made the quick trip into town and had a tasty, filling lunch at Fat Boy’s BBQ. Following lunch, we made the approximately 20 minute drive to our hotel in Downtown Amarillo.
Palo Duro Canyon is definitely worth exploring. It is a great place to stretch your legs after a long car ride and take in the Texas beauty. Many people camp and stay at the park for days; we just haven’t had the time. We’re satisfied with our quick tours and family picture photo ops that have become a family tradition on vacations to the Amarillo area.