While we were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in northern Texas, we asked several folks, “what is there to do in Dallas?” or “What are things to do in North Texas?” Often we were told about local parks. We did visit these local parks and were pretty disappointed. So began our search online to find things to do and places to go and adventures we could enjoy in North Texas. We discovered the panhandle area and the beautiful photos of that area. Amarillo was also in that neck of the woods, so we thought…
I can’t remember if it was my husband or I that found Palo Duro Canyon State Park, but the pictures online were absolutely gorgeous. We dug out some Best Western travel cards and found a pet-friendly Hotel in Canyon Texas. We prefer a Hotel to other accommodations. After we booked our room, packed our bags (and our dog), we hit the road.
My husband chose our route based on the less travelled. He knew it would take longer to drive from Dallas to Canyon Texas, but it would allow us to see smaller towns, avoid toll roads and several hours of bumper to bumper traffic where cars freely weave in & out on multi lane bridges like they’re on a Nascar track. (I’ll share those back road adventures in another article.) The total drive took us roughly 6 1/2 to 7 hours. Please keep in mind, we drove easy, stopped often and enjoyed the sites along the way. The drive from the DFW area to Canyon would have taken only 4 1/2 to 5 hours if we were more destination focused.
Arriving in Canyon Texas, a small town about 20 minutes outside Amarillo Texas, we immediately noticed it was a cozy place. Main Street literally being its main attraction, the people were very welcoming and the traffic was slow. The pace of life was much more easy-going. The weather was beautiful.
The entrance to Palo Duro Canyon is about 8 to 10 minutes away from the Best Western Hotel in Canyon Texas. The following morning we had coffee and packed a couple of bagels, various snacks & plenty of water for our adventure.
One of the most important thing to do in Palo Duro Canyon is stay hydrated. The weather there can be tricky and the canyon floor can easily reach over 110 degrees for several hours each day.
At the entrance we waited in line for about 25 minutes before we paid $5 per person. It’s important for any visitor to know that this park is highly populated as well as many of Texas’ other state parks. In the event the park is at full capacity, the Park Rangers pass out tickets to hold your place in line until they’re able to allow admittance (which can take up to 4 hours). I highly recommend being one of the first in line or you may not be able to visit the park on the day you arrive!
Palo Duro Canyon is very well-kept. The park rangers regularly patrol the canyon for exhausted visitors that may need a little aid. There were signs posted everywhere stating at least a gallon of water per person was recommended for each hour. We sweated this much or more and drank about a gallon an hour each on the trails.
Shortly after we entered there was a beautiful look-out point fabulous for taking photos! We also noticed the cabins located off to the right. The park rents these cabins out for overnight stays. They looked very nice, but we did not go inside any of them. Traveler tip: If you are looking to rent a cabin, do it well in advance – possibly several months out.
From that point we ascended down on a curvy road toward the bottom of the Canyon. We passed the theatre area where the Texas Musical Play was presented in the evening. Ticket were available for purchase, but we did not attend.
Next there was a store/deli/tourist shop. The prices were a bit higher there then if you weren’t inside a Texas State Park but not too terribly unreasonable.
What did they sell inside the Trading Post?
They made homemade ice cream which was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend you try at the grill! One serving was large enough to share but not knowing, we ordered two. Their french fries were absolutely great and my husband’s said their hamburger was totally delicious. They also sold water and gasoline for those who were low on fuel. This was also the place to find t-shirts, postcards, and any other tourist gift and memorabilia to commemorate a visit.
There were too many campsites to count. We saw primitive, modern, and large RV Park sites as well. There was also a section on the far side of the park for equestrians. The camping sorts available were numerous and we saw people from all walks of life on different budgets enjoying their stay.
There’s a small stream of water that normally runs through the bottom of the canyon according to the Trail Maps. The creek beds were mostly dry when we were there.
The many hiking trails were varied from super easy to extremely challenging. I loved hiking there because the brush and trees provided shade to cool off at different intervals.
The dirt in the Palo Duro Canyon is red. The rocks are many colors though. The contrast was beautiful and made for some gorgeous photos.
The flora in the canyon included small & large trees, several types of flowers and cacti, and many tumbleweed type bushes. The creatures we saw in the canyon include lizards, rabbits, roadrunners, turkey and other birds. Signs along the way read that it was possible to encounter other types as well, but we didn’t. I was a little afraid that we would be in contact with a rattlesnake, but we got lucky and never saw one.
Things to do in Palo Duro Canyon included:
Biking, Hiking, Camping, RV Park, Bird Watching, Horseback Riding, Caving, (we saw at least 3 caves for the brave to explore. I wasn’t one of the brave!) and much more.
It was a dusty adventure in the Palo Duro Canyon. We stayed for about 5 1/2 hours on the trip hiking roughly 10 miles that day. When we left we were covered in the dusty red dirt from the second largest canyon in the United States.
It was rather surprising that the Palo Duro Canyon was so little known to the various folks we spoke to in Texas area. I don’t understand how such an awesome place was so unrecognized by the locals.
Enjoy the slide show and leave me a comment about things to do in Texas. I love suggestions!
https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsI’ve never been to Palo Duro Canyon, Texas before, but it looks like a great place to visit. Looks like your family had a blast!
We did. It’s a great place to visit.
Looks so gorgeous! I love going to places like this and exploring around. Its gorgeous and I bet so relaxing to just walk around and not have to worry about hustle and bustle!
Exactly. Everyone needs time to unplug, unwind, & reboot 🙂
I love visiting Texas! My in laws live over there and I love finding excuses to come and visit them. It’s so pretty and the weather is always great!
It’s great to have relatives to visit! I don’t know if I agree with the weather though … Every Texan we spoke to said temperatures over 100 every day is “normal”. It was a tad hot for me 😉
You had me at hiking! It’s not a vacay for me if I can’t do some kind of hiking! It’s definitely my favorite travel activity!
I love hiking too. Bring plenty of water and enjoy! 🙂
I’ve been to a few State Parks in the US but never around Texas, it looks like a great place to spend the day x
What a gorgeous place to visit! It looks like you had a wonderful trip. This is on our list of places we would love to see.
Awesomeness! I hope you enjoy 🙂
How lovely! What a beautiful place to visit. I’ve been to Texas several times, but only for work… I’m really looking forward to going back for pleasure.
Caitlin • Blonde Seeking Ambition
Wow, you’re brave. The travel in Texas is crazy with all the congestion on their roads. You’re a very brave soul 😉
This Palo Duro Canyon sounds really a lovely place. I love your amazing shots and it sounds like you had fun and enjoyed the place
I did. Thank you so much for stopping by 🙂
I’m not much for making a drive take longer. WE have two small kids so we try to get everywhere the quick way. You saw some pretty places though
I completely understand. We travelled with 3 of our boys when they were young. We definitely took the more direct path also. Anything that got us out of the vehicle sooner was a gimme 😉
Such a beautiful location to visit. I haven’t been to North Texas in a long time, but I would love to visit Palo Duro Canyon if I every do make it.
If you do, chances are you’ll love it too. 😁
This place is beautiful! I used to live in Texas and can’t believe I have never heard of it before. It really is lovely.
I was really surprised by how many Texans had never heard of it. I’m just happy we found it 😊
this is such a beautiful place, I would love to go. I love going somewhere new and exploring, getting lost in the area and culture. This is close to me, I live in New Mexico and Texas isn’t far.
I bet Mexico is just as pretty. I’ve never been there. I’d love to go one day though.
This canyon looks like such a tranquil and beautiful place. It looks like you had a great time with your family.
It was very nice. Thanks for coming by.
This looks lovely! I have actually never been to Texas but I have heard great things. My parents like to go out that was in their RV once in a while, so maybe they will take us with them one trip
Thanks for stopping by. Come see me again. 😀
What a gorgeous place! I love exploring new and beautiful places like this. Adding to our bucket list!
If you like history like I do, you’d love it. It’s full of native american history. There are several markers posted that share some of it.
Oh wow! After seeing the slideshow, you’ll definitely know that the trip was worth it! It’s beautiful out there especially at night. The sights are breathtaking!
It was gorgeous and i highly recommend visiting. It’s a really good bucket list item. Thank you for visiting
I am nowhere near Dallas but I would love to explore that park.
Whereabouts are you in Texas? There were so many Texans that we encountered that had no idea it even existed. Thank you for visiting my site.
What a great trip! Sounds like a very scenic area. I have been to many places in Texas but don’t think I’ve been through Palo Duro Canyon
Unfortunately, we heard that a lot from locals. Thanks for stopping by 😀
This looks like an awesome place for a trip and love how they light it up at night! We were in texas last year and I’m sad we missed this!
Stop in and check it out if you’re even back out in the pan handle. Thanks for stopping by 😀
What a gorgeous place. I would love it. I am a history buff, so I would be imagining all the history made there!
Yes, OH so much history to explore 😊 Thanks for stopping by.
It looks and sounds like y’all had a wonderful trip. What a beautiful place!
We did. Thank you for stopping by 😀
Wow! The wilderness and landscape here looks absolutely stunning! I definitely would love to visit here one day! Did you stay at any of the campsites in/near these parks? Which one do you recommend?
We stayed at the Best Western but if we had been camping, we would have definitely stayed at this park.
I love your third picture! It came be so hard to find good places to travel too sometimes and then sometimes it just works out!
I agree and this one just kind of worked out perfect! Thanks for stopping by 😀
Wow! What a wonderful trip! I’ll probably travel to USA next year, I think I’ll be able to visit this cute place! I’m adding it do my “to go” list!
If you do go to Texas, you could easily spend your entire trip there and still not see everything! <3
Sounds like a fun and relaxing trip!!
Palo Duro Canyon was, Dallas was stressful with so much traffic 🙂