Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the panhandle of Texas. In case you are thinking that Texas is nothing but flat land and cattle, you should check this place out.
Palo Duro Canyon is, in fact, the second deepest canyon in the United States. If you want to enjoy a magnificent canyon but do not want to deal with the tourism and crowds of the Grand Canyon, you should come here.
Unfortunately pictures do not really do Palo Duro Canyon Justice. If you think this looks good, you should see it in person.
My Visit To Palo Duro Canyon
I visited the park in December of 2020. I booked my trip about 2 weeks in advance and all that was left was one RV spot for $26 a night. Not a problem, it came with water and electricity and the electric would prove very useful.
If you plan to visit the canyon, be sure to take advantage of the online reservation system, you are unlikely to be able to book a spot at the gate.
Road Trip To Amarillo
Being into overlanding, the Journey is just as much a fun as the destination. I love to drive. Coming from the Dallas area, my trip was just under 6 hours to the park. Much of it, was typical Texas flat but I did manage to find a few interesting stops.
Decatur was one of them. If you have a chance to check out downtown Decatur, I recommend it. In my short stop it appeared quaint and a little kooky.
Roadside oddities are just about everywhere when you travel and you need to have a travel plan that leaves time to explore. Even if it is just for something goofy.
My Park Review
Anyway, on to my review of the park. The approach to the park is typical Texas flat until you get close. The elevation gain from Dallas is not apparent until your ears start popping. Amarillo is 3600 feet in elevation and Dallas is about 400 feet. Quite a difference over a 6 hour drive.
Everything is pretty normal until you get about 10 minutes away from the park. Then, you start getting your first views of the canyon and you really start anticipating your arrival.
At the gate, the staff was friendly and very helpful. They were also taking all of the Covid restrictions seriously, so that was nice. The park seemed well maintained with good roads and little to no trash about.
The campsite itself was clean although the sites were closer together than I would have liked. This was an RV spot though, so you have to take that into consideration. That is just how it is.
Not a bad view from the campsite. Of course with overnight lows in the lower 20’s I slept in the truck with a heater. The tent was for gear storage and I would be taking full advantage of that electrical source.
Trails At Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon has an extensive trail system and you can spend days here and not get to all of it.
If you are a mountain biker, I highly recommend bringing your bike along. The trails are ideal for mountain biking with a few being exclusive to bikes.
If you are not a mountain biker, “watch out for mountain bikers”. Listen for them at blind turns.
As for me, I didn’t have a lot of time, so I just hit the “Lighthouse Trail”, one of the more popular ones. It is a total of 6 miles in and back. In December, it was a comfortable hike with temperatures in the 30’s.
If you go in the Winter, dress in layers, even in the 30’s I found that I was down to just one long sleeve shirt rather quickly.
If you go in the Summer, you need to be even more careful. Take the warnings about water very seriously. They suggest carrying at least a gallon of water per person, that is four 32 ounce bottles. Also, plan on sun protection and understand that you will be very exposed.
To wrap it all up, this is most definitely a “bucket list” destination. If you like to travel and love the outdoors, Palo Duro Canyon is pretty hard to beat. Don’t take my review as the final word though, go see for yourself.