It wasn’t until this past year that I heard about Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  It sounded interesting, but being a state park I didn’t have it as high on my priority list as some of the National Parks.  Boy, was I wrong.  We were lucky we had time to visit there and I found myself wishing I had planned better for it.  Hopefully, with some of the tips below you’ll be better prepared for all the fun that’s available.

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in North America…second ONLY to the Grand Canyon. While there is definitely a size difference between the two, the red canyon walls of Palo Duro will not disappoint.

What Not To Miss:

  1. If you can, camp there.  Unfortunately, due to my lack of planning they were totally booked up during our visit.   The campgrounds are located down in the canyon (as is most of the park) and looked amazing. Just prepare for the drive down into and eventually back out of the canyon. The narrow road along the canyon wall with no guardrail left my husband a little stressed.
Mack Dick Pavilion Parking Lot at Palo Duro Canyon State Park Texas

2) Definitely explore the trails. The Pioneer Nature trail is a fairly easy half mile trail that leads from the Mack Dick pavilion and down towards a small creek.  The landscapes were nothing like we’re used to in the Midwest, so this was a real treat.  Additionally, there are a multitude of trails in the park, with some even allowing for biking and horseback riding.

Trail Head Palo Duro Canyon State Park

3) At the bottom of the canyon is the Mack Dick pavilion and even though we weren’t camping the park staff told us we were welcome to take our travel trailer down there and unhook for the day so we could explore more. I loved the views of the beautiful red rocks while having lunch in our camper.

Palo Duro Canyon View from Camper

4) Check out the amphitheater. Each year the park puts on a popular musical, “Texas”.  If you’re visiting during the summer, you’ll be there just in time to check it out.  Even if you don’t see the show (or the nightly fireworks), take some time to wander through the area.  Our daughter especially enjoyed the covered wagon out front.

Covered Wagon at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

The long horn cattle. I could not get over how massive these cows are.  I had seen videos ahead of time, but until seeing them in person I had no real comprehension of their size.  Their horns can span seven feet!

Long Horn Cattle at Palo Duro Canyon State Park Texas

There are lots of other great options to enjoy at the park.  For kids they offer a junior naturalist program.  A stable in the canyon leads horseback tours.  If you look carefully you might also spot hoodoos!  Whatever adventures you choose at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, have fun exploring!


11450 Park Road 5
Canyon, TX 79015
GPS Coordinates: 34.984709/ -101.701867
Phone: (806) 488-2227
Reservation Line: (512) 389-8900