Palo Duro Canyon offers a variety of sights, history, geology, and exciting family-friendly activities.
The state park is located in the panhandle of Texas around, 20 miles from Canyon, Texas. It is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and has a depth of 800 feet, with amazing scenery and plenty of activities.
Activities available include RV camping, tent camping, hiking trails, bike trails, horseback riding, and zip lining.
“Palo Duro Canyon is the second most visited place for camping in Texas and the most visited state park,” said Maire Cox, a seasonal clerk for Palo Duro Canyon.
There are buildings and cabins people can rent out. Some people even rent out a building to throw a wedding in.
Many people come to the state park to hike and enjoy nature. It is not unusual to see families, couples or a group of friends hiking on the trails with backpacks and water. People are also seen gearing up to ride the bike trails.
“Our busy time of year is usually from spring break until August,” explained Cox. “We usually don’t slow down during the colder months either.”
The state park also has stables with horses for people interested in going horseback riding to see the sights.
For adrenaline seekers, there is also a zipline. The zipline is almost a fourth of a mile across. They also offer two 800-foot ziplines to prepare for the longer one. Repelling is offered for those who are interested as well.
Bike trails also are offered along with the hiking trails. The bike trails range from easy to difficult, just like the hiking trails. If you are planning to bike, it is advised to pack the right protective gear, such as helmets and knee pads, along with plenty of water.
This canyon has beautiful views, from the depths and curves of the canyon, to the unique vegetation, to longhorns. The state park provides plenty of geological education. There are plenty of features about the state park that explain some geology about the canyon.
“My favorite part about the park is the trails and wildlife,” said Cox. “I’ve also met many people from all around.”
A lot of these sights are seen on the hiking trail. One of the most famous sights is found on the longest hiking trail. This trail is six miles long and warns hikers to bring one gallon of water per person. This trail is called “The Lighthouse Trail,” which leads hikers to a rock formation that looks like a lighthouse.
“The most famous attraction is the Lighthouse Trail,” said Cox. “You’ll find a lot of pictures of this trail advertising for the park.”
Preparing for these trails ahead of time is important. Make sure to bring lots of water and a hiking partner, since some of the trails are difficult to hike.
“Keep an eye on the weather when you plan to visit,” said Cox. “It is 10 degrees hotter on the floor of the park, and the rocks are like ovens and trap heat. Bring plenty of water.”
The Palo Duro Canyon also showcases a variety of events. There is a musical play called “Texas” hosted throughout the summer months. Performances begin in June and end in August. It is staged in the Palo Duro Canyon, with a meal offered prior to each nightly performance for those who are interested. The play ends with fireworks. It is the perfect way to cool down after hiking the trails while enjoying the talent and the scenery.
“This is the 53rd year for this play,” Cox said. “It represents what life was like in the area early on.”
This state park is family-friendly, with activities offered for all ages. It is also a learning experience for everyone. The park provides an interactive, fun way to get exercise surrounded by beautiful scenery.
A day pass is $5 for adults. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. Reservations and late-night arrivals are also available for people looking to camp.
“The park is beautiful,” said Cox. “You don’t expect to drive up on a big hole in the ground in this area. And unlike The Grand Canyon, you can drive down onto the floor of the park.”