While we were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we asked several folks, “what is there to do in Dallas?” or “Where do you recommended to go 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.
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 we were holding back and found a pet-friendly Hotel in Canyon Texas. 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 a lot of 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 DFW to Canyon would have taken only 4 1/2 to 5 hours if we were more destination focused.
When we arrived in Canyon Texas, a small town about 20 minutes outside Amarillo Texas. It was a cozy place with 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 entrance to Palo Duro Canyon is about 8 to 10 minutes away from the Best Western Hotel in Canyon Texas. When we woke up the following morning we had coffee and packed a couple bagels, snacks & plenty of water for our adventure.
We arrived at the entrance & 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 you 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. The temperatures near the canyon floor where over 100 degrees easily when we were there. We sweated this much or more and drank about a gallon an hour each.
Shortly after we entered there was a beautiful look-out point fabulous for taking photos!
From that point we ascended down on a curvy road toward the bottom of the Canyon. We passed the theatre area where the play was presented in the evening.
Next there was a store/deli/tourist shop. The prices were a bit higher there then if you weren’t inside a state park but not too terribly unreasonable. 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 locate 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 sites as well. There was also a section on the far side of the park for equestrians.
There’s a small stream of water that normally runs through the bottom of the canyon we were told. 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 lizzards, rabbits, roadrunners, turkey and other birds. Signs along the way read that it was possible to encouter many other types as well, but we didn’t.
It was a dusty adventure. 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 the various folks we spoke to in the DFW area. I don’t understand how such an awesome place was so unrecognized by the locals.
Enjoy the slideshow and leave me a comment about things to do in Texas. I love suggestions!