Palo Duro is the second-largest canyon in the United States, and the central feature of this second-largest state park in Texas. Located just southeast of Amarillo, it encompasses 28,978 acres. It was established in 1934, and is administered by Texas Parks & Wildlife.
This area is primarily juniper & pinyon scrub, with riparian areas on the canyon floor. It’s a native habitat to the Rocky Mountain juniper, for which it’s named (“palo duro” means “hard wood”), tansy aster, and star thistle. Many types of wildlife are found here, including the endangered Palo Duro mouse and Texas horned lizard, and scores of birds can be seen here, including canyon towhees and belted kingfishers.
I visited this site with RaggedyCrow in early April 2017, and look forward to returning to explore more of the canyon, and hiking some of the 30+ miles of trails within the park. This is a full-service site, with amenities including: a museum, bookstore, trading post, interpretive programs, and even a gas station. Activities here include: hiking, mountain biking, equestrian (there is even a stable where visitors can rent horses for guided rides), wildlife viewing, and camping. It’s in an otherwise rural area, so stargazing opportunities are great.
The park is open from 7a – 10p for day use, which is free for children under 12 and $5 for adults. Discounts are available for Texas residents, veterans, and seniors. There is a full range of camping options, from backpacking sites ($12) to full RV hook-ups ($26), and there are also cabins available for rent ($60-125). Camping fees are in addition to the base park admission rate.
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