Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park: Address, Phone Number, Palo Duro Canyon State Park Reviews: 4.5/5

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park
State Parks • Ancient Ruins • Canyons
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A dramatic 60-mile long and 800-foot deep canyon noted for its excellent hiking, birding, fishing and mountain biking.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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2,316 reviews
Very good

Greg & Ana Santiago
4 contributions
We had a wonderful time. Although we never made it in the park per se since because of Covid they only allow 50% of people and you MUST register online first.
However, thanks to the people of Palo Duro Jeep Tours, we had a magnificent. "Safari", Donna is so knowledgable of the history of the park since her own family are the owners, what more can you ask. Even better, she is friendly, enthusiastic and made the ride experience unforgettable, those views really are breathtaking and no camera or photo can make them justice, you have to Go and experience yourself. Bring comfortable clothes, and suntan lotion. They have 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours tours. We took the 2 hours tour and it e ded up being 2 and a half hours. We also recommend going the earliest you can since it really gets hot! They bring their own cooler full of water. It can get rough at some points going up ,also with the heat so you dont want to take elders unless they are " hearty" there was an older lady that got sick on the other jeep. Children do fine. There was a 3 year old with red cheeks with us, never complained at all, she was all in!.. so there you go. Visit Donna and the folks at the Jeep AND Horse riding ranch. You can take pictures of the kidddo'@ with the horses.
Written August 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jeff W
Denton TX, United States5 contributions
We did several of the hiking trails. All were great, but Lighthouse was the best. Round trip about 5 miles - a must do. The trail goes out to the famous Lighthouse HooDoo rock formation. Trail is easy to follow, and I wore running shoes rather than hiking shoes and had no problems.
Another very nice trail was Rock Garden - also about 5 miles round trip. This one takes you up the side of the canyon wall, and then you can walk along the canyon rim. The rim walk added a couple more miles to the round trip, but well worth the time.
Also recommend the Old West Horse Riding Stables for a 1 hour trail ride inside the canyon (about $70 per person), and Palo Duro Creek Ranch jeep rides outside the state park main gate for a 2 hour jeep ride (about $80 per person).
We stayed out of the park in one of the Dove's Rest Cabins (Fortress Cabin). These are privately owned, and are built overlooking the privately owned section of the canyon.
Overall, Palo Duro State Park was a great place to spend a week - and we highly recommend it!
Written October 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

520 contributions
So glad we stopped here. It was a day before decision. I got a day pass with no problem. I guess because it was a Wednesday and also not during heavy tourist season. I did make the mistake of only paying $8 online but then when got there realized it’s not per vehicle charge it’s per person charge. No problem though. Just paid the extra $8 at the gate. Have noticed in so many parks that rates have gone from $5 to $8. Our first stop was the visitor center/ gift shop. Restrooms were under construction so only port a potty’s were available. The nice man working in the gift shop led me to the free telescope where he was able to show me the Lighthouse formation which is the symbol of this park. That was cool since I knew we didn’t have the time to hike to it. This is a beautiful park but even with the map we did have a hard time finding some of the things on the map because we felt they were not well marked. We thoroughly enjoyed our drive through the park though. It’s a loop and if you are only driving it it should only take you about an hour.
Written May 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lisa Cancade Hackett
North Bay, Canada305 contributions
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.

Diane B
Katy, TX157 contributions
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.

Karen R
Arlington, TX133 contributions
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.

Texas26 contributions
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.

Celina, TX136 contributions
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.

Ian Steel
Austin, TX3 contributions
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.

Dallas, TX18 contributions

We were there a couple of years ago and stayed in the cabins. They were built by the CCC guys so they are well built but not necessarily to today's standards. It is hard to keep them clean. It did not appear that anyone except temporary occupants cleaned them and we were not prepared to do a thorough cleaning job. There is a review from ealier this year and it appears that the mattresses have been replaced. That is good because when we were there, they were so bad that we took both mattresses (they are double bunks), and put them on the bottom bunk so we could sleep. I would recommend that you bring a plastic matress cover, sheets, pillows and blanket. Frankly I wished I had brought a bucket, soap, and other cleaning supplies. The writer from 2020 suggested vinyl table cloths. That would also work. With all that said, it was a privilege to be able to stay in one of the cabins and in the State Park.
Written June 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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