Rich in geological and historic significance, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is one of the most dramatic state parks in Texas.
Based around America’s second biggest canyon system, the park is nestled at the bottom of a 60-mile ravine that is flanked by cliffs that rise over 800 feet.
Dating back over 250 million years each layer of this breathtaking landscape relates a unique story of how earth evolved.
A fascinating place to explore on foot, by horse or mountain bike, the park accommodates more than 30 miles of trails.
Camping, geocaching and wildlife watching are other popular activities here, while in the summer, you can even take in a TEXAS Outdoor Musical performance – which take it from us is quite the spectacle!
Visitors to the park can engage in a varied selection of outdoor recreational pursuits during their time there.
Here is a small snapshot of some of the activities you can partake in.
Hiking at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
With over 30 miles of trails crisscrossing through it, the park is a haven for those who enjoy hiking.
To make it easier for visitors, most of the trails are clearly marked with signs that assist you to stay on the right path.
Probably the most popular of all trails that run through the park is the Lighthouse Trail. Taking you on a moderately challenging six mile round trip, this trail showcases stunning views of incredible rock formations like Capitol Peak and the Lighthouse rock.
For a more scenic panoramic of the hilly Texan valley below be sure to tackle the Rock Garden Trail. It is a very challenging two mile trail to attempt as there are steep climbs up the canyon.
Though once you get to the top you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding area.
Horseback Riding at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Throughout the park, some 1,500 acres of land have been specially designated for horseback riding.
There are three trails you can tackle, namely the Juniper Cliffside Trail, the Lighthouse Trail and the Equestrian Trail. If you would prefer not to attempt them on your own, there are guided tours available, which are run by Old West Stables.
Attending a Show at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Every summer, visitors to the park will be able to enjoy a series of musicals that are put on by the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation.
These shows began in the 1960s and are all very popular events which showcase the history of Texas state through their performances.
The shows run every week during the summer months, from Tuesday through to Saturday. Should you want to eat prior to watching any of them, a sumptuous dinner is put on by Feldman’s Wrong Way Diner.
Birding at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Birding is a very popular activity at the park, attracting budding ornithologists from all over Texas.
A wide range of bird species can be seen throughout the year, including western meadowlarks, golden-fronted woodpeckers and Mississippi kites.
Visitors to the park can pick up a guidebook at the Trading Post (a shop within the park), which outlines all the known species of birds that can be seen within it.
Pets at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Pets are welcome at the park, although some restrictions are in place.
To determine what they are, it is worth contacting the park’s main head office for further details.
Camping at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
For those looking for overnight accommodation, Palo Duro Canyon State Park offers 105 different campsites. These are contained within 5 separate campgrounds.
At Juniper, you’ll find 18 sites that come with either 30-amp or 50-amp electric and water hookups. All of which also provide a picnic table, fire ring, tent pad, lantern post and some paved sites.
Between the Mesquite and Sagebrush campgrounds there are 47 other sites that provide 30-amp to 50-amp electric and water hookups, along with picnic tables and fire rings or grills.
Some of these sites can accommodate RVs that are up to 60 feet in length. All of them are located near restrooms that also have warm showers.
Over at the Hackberry campground there are 32 sites that come with 20-amp or 30-amp hookups as well as water.
These sites all come with their own picnic table and grill or fire ring and are situated near comfort stations that have flush toilets and warm showers. Some of them can all hold up to 60-foot long RVs.
While the sites at these campgrounds are well suited to RVs, if you would prefer to be in a tent only site, there are 8 available at the Fortress Cliff area. These sites come with their own picnic table and fire ring, as well as shade shelter. However restrooms and showers are between 1/2 – 2 miles away depending on where you are stationed.
Water is available in this campground, but not at all of the sites.
In addition to these sites, you’ll find a group camping facility at the Wolfberry campground that can host up to 72 people.
There is also a group camp available at the park for sponsored youth groups. With a maximum of 32 people being allowed to stay here at any one time.
Should you want to stay overnight at the park with your horse, you’ll have to base yourself at the Equestrian Basic Campground.
Some 10 sites are available there, with a stable to ensure all horses are kept comfortable.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5
Canyon, TX 79015
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Palo Duro Canyon State Park:
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