Did you know you camp INSIDE the canyon at Palo Duro? Campsites are on the floor of the canyon! It’s truly something magical. Check out these photos and plan your own trip.
One of our favorite road trips was our two week wander to the Grand Canyon & Sedona’s energy vortexes. Peering into the canyon from above was breathtaking. No words can fully express the enormity of emotional and sensory overload when visiting this jaw-dropping wonder of the world.
I so badly wanted to hike down into the canyon to see it from the inside, but Little D was too young to make that hike during our 2018 trip. And it was too much for Trevor to have to carry her back up. As soon as we left, we knew we’d be making another trip out to the Grand Canyon. (It’s not a bad thing.)
So when Trevor told me that the campsites at Palo Duro were on the canyon floor, I was SOOOO excited!!
Opened in 1934, Palo Duro is the 2nd largest TX state park
(Lookin’ at you, Big Bend Ranch # 1)
Palo Duro is about 120 miles long, and in places, is up to 20 miles wide! (And if I remember correctly, the staff at the park gate mentioned the state park possessed less than 10% of the canyon. The remainder is privately owned. 😳
We had just finished our stay at Caprock Canyon and made the 1.5 hour drive to Palo Duro. (Distance from Dallas is only 5 hours.) Trevor had mentioned the downhill grade entering the canyon, and all I could think about was this upcoming amazing view and experience. 😍
It didn’t disappoint. You’ll pull past Park Headquarters and maybe see a longhorn on your left, then continue to the Visitor Center. Pull into the lot and park. You don’t want to skip it. Walk down the hill to the Center and soak in that view. I had to record an IG Reel so that I could watch and rewatch it anytime I want. 😁
Afterward, you’ll slowly take a winding road to the bottom, and if you’re pulling a trailer, you’re in a lower gear letting the engine slow you down and help take the load off your brakes. (You don’t want to ride your brakes on downgrades. You could overheat them and lose braking ability.) You’ll want to, and have to, take this road slowly anyway. 😉
Our reservation was in Mesquite Camp Area at nearly the end of the road, and it was perfect. The views were postcard-perfect, but I suppose there’s probably not a bad site in the park.
Our 3-night stay was in November 2020, during the Covid Pandemic, so the park capacity was limited. It was pretty quiet during our visit, and we appreciated it.
Because we didn’t have a bunch of days, I had to be picky with our hikes. I’ll list them below, but I’ll tell you now, you don’t want to miss the Lighthouse Trail. And go to the top.
You’ll see in the video. 😎
P.S. The park is only 20 minutes from Amarillo and 30 minutes from Cadillac Ranch.
✪ Palo Duro Canyon State Park – 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015
➤ Stayed: Mesquite Camp Area in state park
➤ Trip’s Trails & Sights:
•Rock Garden (only hiked partway)
•The Big Cave (you can see if from Alternate Park Rd 5)