Located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest canyon system in the United States. Its width averages six miles and can reach 20 miles in some places. It has some 5,000-foot peaks and is a great place to hike or simply relax in nature.
The state park is home to a variety of wildlife and features an outdoor performance venue. During the summer, it hosts the Palo Duro Canyon Musical, which is a great way to learn more about this historical region. The show tells the stories of settlers from the area’s history and features singing, dancing, and humor. After the performance, visitors can enjoy a Texan barbecue dinner.
Hiking is also popular at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The park features more than 30 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult. Hiking enthusiasts should check out the Paseo del Rio Trail, which runs along the river and includes a historic Cowboy Dugout. There’s also the 3.73-mile Rylander Fortress Cliff Trail, which is great for beginners and families alike. Other trails include the Lighthouse Trail, which travels to an iconic rock formation.
During the early Spanish exploration of the area, Palo Duro Canyon was named for the native hardwoods. The name is also reflected in the park’s campgrounds, which are named after the trees that grow here. The Coronado Expedition is believed to have traveled through the area in 1541.
The park’s Lighthouse Trail is the most popular hike at Palo Duro Canyon. Its 300-foot-high Lighthouse Rock formation is a favorite among hikers. The trail is about three miles long and takes three hours to complete. While the terrain is flat, the trail can be challenging in hot weather.
CCC Trail: If you’d like to hike the rim of the canyon, the CCC Trail is the way to go. It begins near the visitor center and leads to Goodnight Peak. After that, the trail narrows and steep dropoffs are found on both sides. The CCC Trail can be a bit treacherous, so be prepared for danger.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to the nation’s second largest canyon, and is filled with 15,000 acres of hiking trails and zip lines. This scenic park is also home to the official Texas State Longhorn Herd. The canyon has been carved into the landscape by water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.
Although Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a year-round destination, the best time to visit is in the spring and fall, when temperatures are mild and hiking conditions are pleasant. During the spring, wildflowers bloom throughout the park, making it a perfect spot for a spring break outdoor trip. Summer, on the other hand, is sweltering and intense. However, it’s the only time of year when you can see TEXAS, the world’s largest outdoor musical.