Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park
A dramatic 60-mile long and 800-foot deep canyon noted for its excellent hiking, birding, fishing and mountain biking.
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  • Thomas A
    Austin, Texas18 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Texas Treasure!
    Beautiful Texas State park! Several of the trails had just re-opened when we were there mid-June after some heavy rains and flooding in the area. The park crews have done a great job getting things cleaned up, but a couple trails were still closed. The scenery is stunning and we also enjoyed the visitor's center and grabbing a hamburger for lunch at the Trading Post. We did the Lighthouse rock formation trail, which is about 3 miles in length each way. TIP - take plenty of water and bug spray with you on your gets very hot in the canyon during the Summer and the flies are biting!
    Visited June 2023
    Written June 24, 2023
  • Kim J
    84 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Palo Duro Canyon is amazing!
    Don’t miss this experience in the great outdoors getting closer to nature. We drove through with ooohs and aaaahs throughout our drive, and even spotted a road runner. There is a nice bird viewing area near the cafe and store. Don’t miss it!
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 30, 2023
  • elke9249
    Dallas, Texas25 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Recommended for camping and staying a few days.
    Beautiful place, many hiking opportunities, pet friendly, great for camping. We took our trailer and two dogs and enjoyed this place. Our labs could easily go along on the hikes. Sadly we didn’t see much wildlife.
    Visited August 2022
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 3, 2023
  • oilguy57
    Tucson, Arizona162 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great park but a little disappointed (not their fault)
    I've wanted to see Palo Duro Canyon SP for decades. But living in Houston (and now Tucson), it wasn't convenient. I was taking the scenic route back to AZ and decided this was time to detour and see things I'd wanted to see for many years. Booked 2 nights in Canyon so I could spend an entire day in the park. Purchased my day pass online before the trip. Really bad timing though. The TX Panhandle had been inundated with rain and storms for weeks. I arrived at the entrance to the park early to be greeted with a large sign saying "All Trails Closed". Showed my pass and went into the Entrance Station to talk to the staff. They did a great job of explaining where to see great views and what to look for. Not their fault I'd chosen to visit when I did. But with the trails closed and even part of the scenic drive down in the canyon, there just wasn't a full day's worth of things to do. Bummer. Would love to have done more, but it wasn't to be. Even more frustrating it was the Sunday before Memorial Day and the museum and gift shop didn't open until 1PM. There was a Trading Post/Snack Bar open down in the canyon, but nothing that appealed. Glad I finally got to see the park, but just bad timing on my part.
    Visited May 2023
    Written July 9, 2023
  • Cindy Kirby
    Mont Belvieu, Texas80 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Road Trip 2023 Palo Duro Canyon State Park
    This was one of the stops on our 4000 mile road trip. My husband and I had been here 17yrs ago but it was more meaningful to experience it with our three kids. The Canyon is beautiful and we loved that we could drive down and stop at all of the look out points for pics and a little hiking. An added bonus was the gift shop a little ways down. My 16yo, who recently got his license, thought it was really cool to be able to drive back up the canyon on the winding roads with the windows down. Palo Duro Canyon is a great stopping point and very accessible, taken care of and wonderful place to bring the family.
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 12, 2023
  • Dewayne C
    6 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    You'll regret missing this!
    LOVED Palo Duro Canyon! The red and beige rocks were so beautiful. The visitor center folks are friendly and helpful, and they did have maps. There is a parking area at an overlook above the visitor center, which sits down a steep road a little ways; the parking lot down there is smaller. The views from inside the VC were amazing! They had several windows facing the canyon. Then we drove down into the canyon; the road is steep in places. There was dried mud on and alongside the road, especially near the six flood-prone bridges, evidence of recent flooding. Apparently they have to scrape it off the road, like we Northerners do snow. The cliffs were high, with many interesting formations. If you pull out at certain places, you can get a better picture than if you are driving along the road. There were pretty flowers, too. As we neared the campground, the scenery was less spectacular (actually, getting almost boring), so we turned around and went back to the Trading Post, which had a larger gift shop than the visitor center and also served food and ice cream. The food was good! Gift shop had many nice things. Palo Duro is definitely a don't-miss stop!!!
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 12, 2023
  • Lscole
    Huntsville, Texas16 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Visited Palo Duro Canyon and it truly is beautiful. We hiked the the Lighthouse and The Caves trails. The caves trail was not marked but the AllTrails app took us straight there. It’s a nice short hike. The scenery in the park is breathtaking and the history is so interesting. The temperature was a little hotter during the day but cooled off nicely when the sun went down. You definitely need to take a trip to this Texas State Park.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 22, 2023
  • melendz
    Houston, Texas647 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    One of the best Texas State Parks
    This State Park is located in the second longest canyon in the U.S. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, from easy to moderate to challenging. The first one to try is The Lighthouse Trail, which is about a 6 mile hike (roundtrip) to the beautiful rock formation of the same name (there is some elevation gain at the end to reach the base of the Lighthouse, so bring you hiking poles). Note that this is a dry area and gets very hit in the summer, so avoid hiking in the middle of the day being plenty of water and use sunscreen. There is camping and glamping in the park. There is even and a small store and restaurant. Hiking and horseback riding is allowed in some trails.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written November 4, 2023
  • llama
    453 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Well maintained Park with lots to offer!
    Had a great time exploring the canyon. Who would think such a lovely state park is in western Texas? We hiked the Lighthouse Trail, CCC Trail and Paseo Del Rio Trails. Note: I dropped off the family and they hiked into the canyon on the CCC, and I picked them up at the Ampitheater at the end. Not a trail for a young kids with steep drop offs. We explored the cave off the side of the road, and other points of interest throughout the park. Beautiful weather and great little park to explore.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written November 9, 2023
  • Stephen K
    Corpus Christi, Texas2,743 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Take the loop road all the way to bottom (the “floor” of the canyon)
    If you are in the area of Amarillo and have a few hours, take a drive to the State Park which is only 30 minutes southeast of Amarillo. A few miles before entering the park, notice the tallest wind turbine in the US at 634’; it is an experimental project run by the local university. Make sure to drive all the way to the canyon floor to view the canyon cliffs from below looking up to the rim. If you plan ahead you can try a Jeep tour or take a horseback trail ride.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written November 22, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5 of 5 bubbles2,387 reviews
Very good

Karen R
Arlington, TX130 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is amazing. It’s the second largest canyon in the US, but the hiking experience is totally different. There are at least 15 different trails of all different difficulty levels-there’s something for everyone. We saw families with grandparents and small children and serious hikers flying solo. We drove from Dallas and arrived early afternoon. We decided to take the Lighthouse Trail that afternoon and take the drive around the entire park to get a feel for how things were laid out. The trails are very well marked, both at the trail heads and along the way.

Due to Covid, a limited number of people are allowed in the park each day, so you should pre-purchase your admission before you arrive. If you arrive when they open in the morning, you may have to wait. We arrived at 7:20 am for the 7:30 am opening. We were at our trailhead by 7:45 am on our second day. We opted for the Rock Garden Trail our second day. This was much more strenuous than the Lighthouse Trail, but so worth it. We finished our second day in the Park by taking the Sunflower Trail. This trail is a 1 hour out and back trail that allows you to see the layers of red dirt and granite up close. The first part of the Sunflower Trail is shaded and runs along what was a dried up river bed when we were there.

We could have stayed longer and never have had to repeat a trail. We’ll be back to explore more!
Written September 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Diane B
Katy, TX186 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020
So incredible that this canyon is in the middle of the plains of Western Texas. Our visit was on a Thursday in October of 2020 during Covid. Therefore were required to make day passes online in advance. We originally had purchased tickets for a day that the weather forecast predicted temps of 97º so we called to reschedule to the next day. Unfortunately we were not allowed to change so had to give up the $16 admittance fee and pay for the next day. Considered it a donation to a terrific park! Entered the park around 11am. Disappointed in the Visitor Center. While the personnel was helpful the museum was lacking in my opinion. The gift shop needs some major TLC. We elected to hike the Lighthouse trail. Headed out after using bug spray. It took us 3 hours. Probably encountered 50 other hikers. Beautiful hike, some areas have rock scramble so I agree with the labeling it as a "moderate" trail.
Written October 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ian Steel
Austin, TX3 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
Palo Duro State Park is absolutely beautiful and worth my 500 mile trip from Austin. I came here with the expectation of scenic hikes, wildlife, and interactions with like minded people and wasn't disappointed. That said no park is perfect and there are things they could do better. For better or worse this park is pretty simple when it comes to the amount of management and staff interaction a typical guests encounters. Beyond the park gate I didn't see a see a single identifiable park employee while hiking in the three days I was there. So if you like your parks rugged and ones that give you the feeling of being in the wild, your are in the right place. This might explain why most of the negative reviews deal with reservations, RV stuff, and special situations. Instead of complaining here's three recommendations that would have made my trip perfect and hopefully will help you.

1. Reserve your pass online. For some reason paying at the gate is tricky and during peak times they are "sold out". When you have a online reservation you pull up to the gate, give them your name, get a parking pass and in you go. Done in 30 seconds.
2. Since this is a primitive park accept that you are on your own on trails. Bring lots of water, wear appropriate clothing, and don't wander too far off the path. Real common sense.
3. Depending on your cell phone provider you may not have any cell service. There is some public WIFI at several multi-use buildings but its slow.

These little inconveniences pale in comparison to the scenery, well groomed trails, and everything else the park provides. While you could argue that sometimes the management isn't up to par the park itself wont disappoint.
Written September 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rockwall, TX2,987 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
My husband and I just got back from a four day trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and had a great time.
Due to the pandemic, we had to purchase our $8 day passes online ahead of time. We drove into the park on a Sunday and Monday, arrived early and left in the early afternoon due to the heat (park hours were 7:00 a.m. - 7 p.m.). We stayed in a cabin off the property.
The visitor center had very limited hours but was well worth a stop to watch a video of the canyon's history. I enjoyed seeing the artifacts and displays regarding flora and fauna in the area. There was also a small but nice gift shop.
The park itself had some very nice trails and camping areas. We saw very few people and the parking lots were empty, which we enjoyed. We hiked one trail near the canyon rim and several trails on the canyon floor. There were a few cyclists but mostly hikers on the trails we chose.
The park had a snowcone stand open at one trailhead and had a small general store open for gasoline, food and drinks. All of the theatres were closed.
My main complaint regarding our visit was the lack of signage while inside the park. We had a park map with listed trails but they were hard to follow. You literally had to pull into a lot and be at the trailhead to see where you were. Signs along the road would have been most helpful letting you know what trails and sights were ahead. It was more like a scavenger hunt to find particular trails!
My favorite trail was the Sunflower Trail where we walked on a tree-lined path along a creek and red permian wall. We found tracks in the dried creek bed from raccoons, rabbits, deer, bobcat, mountain lion, and coyotes. We found lizards, a horned toad and snake skins on the Nature Trail.
We walked around the area with the Native Americans fled from the U.S. Calvary and their camp was completely destroyed. This canyon has lots of history - be sure to see the video in the visitor center to learn more.
Wear comfortable shoes and take lots of water if you plan to hike. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and watch for rattlesnakes!
It was a great two days of hiking and I would love to return.
Written July 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lisa Cancade Hackett
North Bay, Canada341 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022 • Friends
Our last Texas State park before heading North to Canada. We rented cabin 1 of the Cow Cabins and we’re immediately smitten with how native and pretty the stone cabin was and the beautiful views. Once we got settled we started to notice how the cabin needed a good cleaning and we wiped down every surface. We had AC as we were in the last day of a week long heat wave. By 8 pm the thunder storm had passed and taking some nice sunset pictures we started noticing scurrying mice underfoot and up and down the stone walls. My sister quickly went to get the park host and I stayed back to play wack a mo with the mice. The park host sent her home to await maintenance arrival. By midnight we realized we had been blown off and we were on our own. Too late to leave we set up our tent on top of two beds that we had pushed together. Once we had our sleeping bags set up inside and got ready for bed we knew that the mice wouldn’t be able to track us in our zipped up tent.
The park host never did tell anyone and didn’t care a hoot. My advice to anyone wanting to rent one of these cabins bring at least six mouse traps, preferably live traps as the mouse is a threatened species called Palo Duro mouse, subspecies of Paramiscus, so you would have to be discreet about disposing of kill trapped critters.
We were disappointed that our special sisters overnight had turned into a gut churning experience of how to avoid being attacked by 7” mice. I’m so glad we came up with the tent on the bed solution. There’s camping and then there’s slumming.
Bring mouse traps with you when go camping esp if you are going to this park and staying at Cow Cabin #1. The door would close unless you used the keyless entry deadbolt and the outside light was burned out. The coolest the AC got to was 26C.
The office staff just shrugged and said that you have to expect mice in your cabin when renting a cabin in the park. We said that it would have been nice to know this before arriving, even if it was in the small print.
Written May 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Celina, TX141 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2021 • Family
Opted for a mini vacation with the family to Palo Duro. It was the first time I had been to Palo Duro in 35 years.. We stayed at a hotel in Amarillo and made the very short commute to Canyon. Some observations: as a kid I remember how amazing the canyon was having grown up in Houston. Since then I have traveled extensively and I will say that if you have never been to the western USA, (Grand Canyon, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Colorado or the mountains in CO and UT) you will be as enchanted as I was as a kid. And I will say that despite traveling to some amazing places, Palo Duro still emits its splendor!
Some upsides is that this park has fortunately not been commercialized and retains its rustic charm. There are plenty of places to stay (cabins) or to camp. Downside: it’s WAY out of the way from most large cities in TX and certainly across the USA. I also imagine it is exceptionally hot during the summer as well. Again if you have traveled in the western USA, this place may be underwhelming. But, I also think that there are many people out there who wouldn’t mind a respite from the craziness at some of those larger landmarks. I also wish there were other activities (ie no fishing, white water rafting, etc). Finally, if you do not hike or mountain bike you may find yourself playing out the Clarke Griswold version as he saw the Grand Canyon, as there is only so long you can look at the canyon before it’s time to go.. all in all a good trip and a welcome mini-vacation!
Written March 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Texas41 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
Went here mid-week in early April to avoid crowds. It was pretty chilly in the morning but got progressively warmer as the day rolled on. I did the GSL to Lighthouse loop returning to parking via Paseo del Rio short trail which follows the creek for a little bit. I would highly recommend doing GSL trail instead of Lighthouse on the way in as it's more picturesque and not as monotonous. Also did the Rock Garden trail and then walked along the cliffs on top. The Rock garden is only marginally difficult in the beginning, it then stays pretty flat for a long stretch. The views from various overlooks give one a totally different view of the canyon, one can really appreciate the expanse of the canyon and the geology of various features. Get the passes online as it makes everything go smoothly at the entrance. Overall, I was really impressed and no doubt will come here again in the future.
Written April 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Colorado Springs, Colorado68 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
Thanks to the NM Governor's two week quarantine for tourists entering her state, my husband and I decided to return to Colorado Springs from El Paso via west Texas instead of the more direct route through Albuquerque. Maybe I should write her a thank you letter. Without her quarantine for tourists, we would never have decided to go home through Amarillo and research what there was to do near the city. I had no idea this canyon existed. It was magnificent! The colors of the rocks up against the green vegetation on the canyon floor were breathtaking. There seem to be virtually unlimited miles of trails to hike and we took advantage of a couple of them. The exhibits in the visitor's center are worth the stop.
Written July 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

San Antonio, TX1,070 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
Having spent time at Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Colorado National Monument, and the Grand Canyon in recent years, I was absolutely impressed with this place: it's big and beautiful and really dramatic. It's also super accessible: you can drive around it and take long and short hikes. The only negative wasn't actually an issue because of Covid and there just aren't a lot of people around: in "normal times", it's clearly a bit commercial. The "trading post" (isn't that a little antiquated?!) and the Texas "show" in the ampitheater seem like a little much and there appear to be jeep tours and ziplines galore. If you go now, be forewarned about two things: it is hot as hell and you need to make reservations in advance on line. We had reservations and went into the park around 6 (you must be in the park by 7) and meandered around as it cooled off a bit and left around 8:30 (you need to be out at 10 unless you're camping). Definitely worth a trip!
Written August 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
We loved staying at Palo Duro Canyon. We stayed in a Rim cabin (Sorenson). It was amazing! The views were incredible, and it felt like we had our own section of the canyon. We were able to get cell signal in the cabin (Cricket, on AT&T network), and we could even use the Cricket hotspot (had to be by the window in the bedroom to get enough signal) to get internet on our computers. It was very hot (as expected in July) - we'll definitely plan on going back in the fall. We did the 'Jeep tour' from Palo Duro Creek Ranch (they are actually Hummer H1's). That was a wonderful tour. It definitely gets you close to the edge! We visited Bar Z Winery and really enjoyed the wine and scenery. In Amarillo, we visited the Cadillac ranch and the Big Texan Steak Ranch (maybe a 30 -40 minute drive from the canyon). All in all, we found plenty to do (and relax) for a 3 night stay.
Written July 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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