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Not many people know that Texas is home to the second largest canyon in the United States, Palo Duro Canyon. Located in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, this canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” This underrated Texas treasure is perfect for camping, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Full of beautiful rock formations and teeming with wildlife, Palo Duro canyon is truly a must-visit destination in the Texas Panhandle.
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Palo Duro Canyon has a colorful history. At 120 miles long, 20 miles wide and up to 800 feet deep, it’s estimated that the canyon was created a million years ago from the erosion due to the Red River. Humans have lived in the canyon for approximately 12,000 years, the first being the Clovis and Folsom peoples. Later, Native American tribes resided in the canyon, such as the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa tribes. In recent history, the area was used for ranching until the park was created and opened in 1934.
View the colorful rock layers, wildlife and plant life as you hike, bike or ride a horse down to the canyon’s floor. Palo Duro is Spanish for “hard wood.” Therefore it comes to no surprise that Palo Duro Canyon is abundant with mesquite and juniper trees. Furthermore since the canyon floor is within Red River’s floodplain, a number of wildlife live down there, including threatened species and unique species like the Palo Duro mouse and Texas horned lizard. A variety of birds, snakes and lizards call Palo Duro Canyon home, along with bobcats, coyotes, deer and wild turkeys.
Visitors to this 28,000-acre state park typically enjoy the area by camping. With five overnight stay options at the park, there is an option for everyone. There are sites specifically for backpackers and equestrians. However there are also primitive drive-up sites, sites with electric outlets and even two renovated cabins.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas’ second largest state park, is perfect for a day trip, weekend getaway or even a wedding or reunion. Due to its beautiful and breathtaking landscape, every Texan should experience this unique area. With over 30 miles of trails, a number of camping options and an informative visitor’s center, Palo Duro Canyon State Park shouldn’t be missed for those traveling through the Texas Panhandle.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park Information:
- Address: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015
- Phone Number: (806) 488-2227
- Website: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/palo-duro-canyon