At 120 miles long and up to 1,000 ft deep, Palo Duro Canyon is America’s second-biggest canyon, after the Grand Canyon. It begins a few miles south of Amarillo as a narrow ravine, before widening and deepening into the spectacular area covered by the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, with its huge cliffs and strange rock formations. Before it was settled by ranchers in the 1870s, the canyon was home to the Comanche, and before them the Apache. The Palo Duro continues south towards Caprock Canyon, but most visitors head for the state park, which covers 43 square miles.
Palo Duro State Park
The entrance to the state park is on TX 217, which leads straight to the gates. Once inside, the road winds down into the canyon, where you’ll find a shop and restaurant. There’s also an open-air amphitheater, and in the summer you can watch a musical show called “Texas”, which tells the story of this region’s Wild West past. Most of the canyon can only be explored on foot, horseback, or mountain bike, and there are various guided tours with park rangers. The park’s visitor center stands on the rim of the canyon, with some spectacular views.
Where to stay near Palo Duro Canyon
Early birds who want to get into the state park as soon as the gates open can stay in a handful cabins close to the main entrance. There aren’t many amenities nearby, but you do get a sense of how the old pioneers must have felt in these wide open spaces. A few miles to the west is the aptly named town of Canyon, home to several cabin rentals and a few shops and restaurants, while the city of Amarillo is about 20 miles from the canyon entrance. Here you’ll find plenty to see and do, along with dozens of holiday homes.
If you’re looking for a holiday home with a homey, secluded feel, there are dozens of rustic cabin rentals here in the high plains that fit the bill perfectly. You can step back in time by staying in a down-to-earth cabin with basic facilities, or choose somewhere that’s well-equipped with modern conveniences. Many cabins near the canyon are built from authentic natural wood and stone, with traditional furniture and decorations, but they still have all the workings of a modern house inside. And the semi-desert landscape of the high plains offers some great Wild-West style views.
Cabins for couples
The wide-open landscape of the high plains, with its big skies and canyon views, is home to some lovely cabins that are ideal for two people travelling together. So if the two of you want to explore the Palo Duro Canyon and spend your evenings in a nice cozy cabin, check out the variety of smaller cabins in this area. From a tiny hut on a ranch to a slick modern cabin with panoramic views, this is a great place to get away from it all and see some of the most spectacular scenery in America.
Cabins for families with children
The country around Palo Duro Canyon is a great place to bring the kids for an outdoor vacation, and there are plenty of cabins nearby that welcome families with children. Youngsters love to explore the trails and boulders in the canyon, and once they’re healthily worn out with all that walking, cycling, or even horse riding, it’s great to come back to a comfortable cabin. Kid-friendly features include bunk beds and loft bedrooms, plus rope swings and hammocks outside—lots of cabins here have huge yards where they’re free to run around and enjoy themselves.
Cabins for large groups
If you’re planning a gathering of friends, or perhaps a family reunion, check out some of the larger cabins in the area that cater for up to 9 guests. You’ll find some well-appointed cabins with big dining tables, communal hot tubs, and spectacular views over the Palo Duro Canyon. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, you’ll find cabins with barbecue grills to cook on, firepits to sit around in the evenings, and even ranch animals wandering up to your door every now and then.