As flat as a board and an expanding to the reaches of the farthest horizon is the Texas Panhandle. While driving through the flatland, visitors of Palo Duro Canyon State Park often come upon a delightful surprise as the landscape reveals a startling 900+ feet deep canyon. Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” this state park offers native Texans and state visitors the opportunity to enjoy the majestic landscape the Lone Star state is famous for.
Known for its wide path, Lighthouse Trail is the most popular of all Palo Duro Canyon State Park trails. Although the trail is easy to maneuver by foot and bicycle, there are a couple of steep drop offs towards the end of it. Mountain biking is encouraged on this trail for cyclists of every level. For the more adventurous at heart, Capital Peak Trail offers riders the opportunity to experience a moderately challenging ride. Full of steep drop-offs and the occasional prickly pear bush waiting to knick passer-by riders, Capital Peak is a fun trail for all levels of bikers.
Juniper Trail links all the trails together, making it easy to reconvene with rogue riders of the canyon trailways.
The GSL, or Givens, Spicer and Lowry Running Trail, is best experienced by mountain bike and challenging enough for both novice and experienced riders. This red dirt trail has surprise drop offs that would deter the faint of heart but as the trail continues, its scenic route instills a sense of determination in every mountain biker. Little Fox Run Canyon Trail is at the tail end of the GSL and its tree canopied path is easy to biking on. Bring all-natural, DEET-free insect repellent with you for the end of the trail to shoo away seemingly larger-than-life horse flies.
Outdoor Theater Productions
During the summer months, Palo Duro Canyon comes alive with the spirit of the Old West. The Texas Panhandle Association puts on a live outdoor theater production called TEXAS. The canyon is the backdrop that helps set the scene for a lone horseman. Wielding the Texas state flag at the top of the canyon, the horseman’s appearance signals the beginning of an unforgettable tale of how Texas was won.
Located about 15 miles from Palo Duro Canyon, this outdoor theater production runs weekly throughout July to August, Tuesday through Sunday. For more information about show times and admission fees, call 1-800-655-2181 today.
A mainstay for state parks in Texas, camping is one of the most popular outdoor activities offered by Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Primitive camping (exclusive backpack and tent campers) and equestrian camping is permitted in designated areas of the state park for. Campgrounds with picnic tables for breakfast and lunch gatherings, potable water and 30-50 amps of electricity are available for. Restrooms are also near these non-primitive/non-equestrian campgrounds.
Cabins are available for visitors that prefer to gaze the big ‘n’ bright stars sparkling deep in the heart of Texas from the comfort of the indoors. The cabins’ night rental fees are between $60-$125 per night depending on the cabin location. For larger groups of visitors staying overnight, there is a Group Pavilion with a kitchen on the grounds, renting at $500 per night (prices subject to change). All campsite and cabin rental fees are separate from Palo Duro Canyon State Park entrance fees.
Know Before You Go
Even if cottontail rabbits and mule deer happen upon the paths of visitors, the state park is known for harboring dangerous western diamondback rattlesnakes. Note that there are bus tours, scenic overviews and plenty of opportunities to take photographs of this beautiful canyon that you can explore with your own two feet. For solitary drives in around the canyon, purchase a map of the grounds at the state park’s concessions and front desk.
Prepare for breathtaking canyon views and chances to see Longhorn Texas cattle roaming its great peaks, plains and valleys. Visit the canyon during its peak months, from early June to late September. Children under the age of 12 years are admitted to the park for free. The $5 adult entrance fee is a small investment for this life-altering state park experience.