Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

September 25, 2018 0 By Open Road

JJ and I took a short weekend RV trip to Palo Duro State Park this weekend and what a weekend it was for us to go. The weather was perfect. It rained on Thursday night and a little the next day which brought the temperatures down into the 70’s. This made for perfect camping and hiking in this very popular state park.  

So, a little bit about Palo Duro State Park. The camping is great here and there is so much to do:


  • Sagebrush – Sagebrush is the first camping area in the state park. There are 30 and 50 amp hookups as well as water. The sites are relatively close to each other which does not give you much privacy but still provides good camping. There are some trees which provide a little shade during the hot summer heat. We have camped here several times and really like Sagebrush.
  • Hackberry – We have never camped in this area but we have driven through it many times. There are a lot of trees and the campsites are not too close to each other which provides a little bit of privacy. Each site has 20 and 30 amp hookups and water. We really like this area and may try it sometime. We haven’t only because we require a 50 amp hookup.

  • Juniper – Juniper is very new to Palo Duro State Park. It just opened in 2017 and is located between Hackberry and Mesquite camping areas. Juniper has 30 and 50 amp hookups and water hookups but no sewage. All of the sites in this area are very spacious. The outside sites are pull through sites where the inside sites are back in sites. There are some trees in this area and plenty of grass. We camped in this area for the first time last year and again this weekend and we loved it. It has become our favorite spot at Palo Duro State Park.

  • Mesquite – Mesquite is at the farthest end of the park. It has 30 and 50 amp hookups and water but no sewer. The area here is very desert like. There are not many trees and the sites are among the rocks. The dirt is red and there is not much grass. If you truly like camping in the desert, this is the campsite for you.

Things to do

  • Hiking – There are so many trails in this canyon. The only trouble you’ll have is deciding which one to do first. The most popular trail for hikers is the Lighthouse trail. Other trails include Capitol Peak, Juniper, Paseo Del Rio, Rock Garden and Sunflower. All in all there are about 13 trails to choose from. Most trails are marked well, are pretty wide open and kids of all ages are welcomed to hike these trails. Take lots of water because it gets really hot in the canyon and you want to make sure you have plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
  • Mountain Biking – A lot of the trails used for hiking can also be used for mountain biking. Most are good trails that wind in and out of the trees and rocks and others are a little tougher like Givens, Spicer, Lowry or GSL. The GSL trail has a lot of climbs and turns and will give any cyclist a good workout. Again, take plenty of water for your ride.
  • Horseback Riding – You can bring your own horses or you can book a horseback riding guided tour at the Old West Stables in the state park. We have never done this here but it sounds like fun.

Sites to see

  • Palo Duro Canyon – The canyon itself is a site to see. No, it’s not the Grand Canyon but it is the second largest canyon in the United States. It is amazing how one minute you’re driving on the flat plains near Amarillo when out of nowhere a canyon appears. It really is beautiful here.

  • Lighthouse rock formation – As I said earlier, the Lighthouse trail is the favorite of most and for good reason. About 2.5 miles up the trail is the Lighthouse rock formation. There is a bit of a climb to get up to the rock but once you’re there, it’s an awesome site to see.  

  • Texas Play – The Texas play, about early settlers in Texas, has been running for over 50 years. It runs Tuesday through Sunday during the summer months inside the park at the Pioneer Amphitheater. We saw this play back in 2015 and loved it. It’s a great time to spend with family and friends.

Really, there is so much to do at Palo Duro Canyon State Park and it is a very popular park. While we were there this weekend, almost all campsites were full and the park was hopping with mountain bikers, hikers and sightseers.  People come from all over Texas and surrounding areas for either an extended stay or just a day of fun. We highly recommend you visit Palo Duro State Park next time you’re in the Texas Panhandle.

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