The nation’s second-largest canyon, Palo Duro remains almost completely hidden until you reach its rim, where the high plains of the Texas Panhandle drop away, revealing dramatic, caprock formations.
Runner-up to the Grand Canyon in terms of size, Palo Duro is 120 miles long, between six and 20 miles wide and more than 820 to 1,000 feet deep . For comparison, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and over a mile deep.
Palo Duro (Spanish for “hard wood,” after the hardwood shrubs and trees found throughout the canyon) features dramatic geological features, including multicolored red, orange, lavender and white layers of rock and steep mesa walls.
The 1,500-acre state park provides public access for hiking, biking, bird watching, horseback riding and camping.
Notable trails include the The Civilian Conservation Corps Trail and the Lighthouse Trail.
Each summer, the park hosts the outdoor musical TEXAS, a production about the Panhandle’s history set against the backdrop of a 600-foot cliff. Expect singing, dancing, fireworks and a lot of Texas humor. Oh, and a barbecue dinner is served before the show.
The full-service park offers primitive and developed campsites, glamping sites with air-conditioning and electricity, as well as rock cabins on the canyon floor and fully furnished, Civilian Conservation Corps-constructed cabins perched on the canyon’s rim. Several pavilions throughout the parks are available to rent for events or meetings.
Touting an admission fee of just $8, the park and its stunning scenery are a bargain by any estimate.
Be warned, Houstonians. This park is no weekend getaway destination. A trek to Palo Duro will take you around nine blissful hours. So if you want to visit, plan to set aside some vacation days.
For more information, visit tpwd.texas.gov or call (806) 488-2227.
Palo Duro State Park is located at 11450 Park Rd. 5 in Canyon, TX.
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