Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle

Lighthouse Peak in Palo Duro Canyon

It’s the second largest canyon in the US with an average width of 2 miles and an average depth of 850 feet. People have lived here for upwards of 15,000 years. Georgia O’Keefe described it as “a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color.” It’s Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.

Named after the abundance of mesquite and juniper in the area, supposedly by early Spanish explorers (palo duro means “hard wood” in Spanish), Palo Duro is a 120 mile long system of canyons located near the city of Amarillo.

Painted, pocked, and peaked with contrasting layers of rock, caves, and hoodoos, the most famous of which has to be Lighthouse Peak, Palo Duro Canyon was formed by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and is sometimes referred to as “The Grand Canyon of Texas.”

Palo Duro appears to have been inhabited for just about as long as humans have been in the area. Archeological evidence indicates that the Clovis and Folsom peoples hunted mammoth and giant bison here. Certainly the Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas lived, in part, off the canyon’s resources until they were rounded up and herded off, themselves during the Red River War with the US in 1874.

Thereafter, the area spent some 60 years or so as ranch land before being transformed into a state park by the hard labor of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Through their addition of a headquarters, visitor center, cabins, and other shelters, Palo Duro Canyon State Park opened to the public in July, 1934.

Activities at Palo Duro Canyon State Park include hiking, camping, horseback riding, wildlife watching, mountain biking, and scenic drives. Park facilities include the aforementioned Visitor Center with its museum and store. Guided tours to various attractions within the canyon are available from outside vendors – and did I mention Pioneer Amphitheater?

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle

For directions, tours, events, and more about Palo Duro Canyon State Park, please visit:

Panhandle Lodging
The B&Bs of the Texas Panhandle invite you to enjoy their hospitality while you enjoy the natural wonders of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Choose your Texas Bed and Breakfast today!

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