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Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Canyon: Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Palo Duro Canyon State Park

WHERE THE CLIFF SINGS AND THE CANYONS DANCE

Palo Duro Canyon, considered the “Grand Canyon of Texas” for its geological variation and rich color, is 120 miles long and 800 feet deep, making it one of the largest canyons in the country. And although Palo Duro is a relatively young topographical feature (in geologic time, at least) formed less than a million years ago by erosion, more recent human interaction is marked by Texas frontier history.

The canyon has served as a traditional refuge for Native Americans and in 1874 was the site of the final and decisive battleground of the Red River War). It has provided water, grazing and protection for early cattle ranchers, offered inspiration for artists as diverse as Georgia O'Keeffe and Jack Sorenson, and encompassed Depression-era works projects.Today offers exceptional recreational opportunities, from horseback riding to plein-air painting, made richer with the knowledge of the canyon's history.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, established in 1934, encompasses nearly 30,000 acres of the canyon, where fascinating hoodoos and rimrock features make a hike through the canyon an entertaining challenge for the imagination. The Civilian Conservation Corps had a significant hand in the canyon’s development as well, constructing the park’s visitor center, cabins, shelters, and park roads. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is also home to “Texas,” a musical extravaganza performed at the park’s outdoor amphitheater that interprets much of the state’s history in dance and song.

Multiple RV and tent campgrounds, rock cabins, trails for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use, and a magnificent lodge for group rental support overnight and day use. The Canyon Gallery, located in the historic Coronado Lodge on the canyon rim, makes available an impressive selection of books, gifts, and western art in addition to interpretive exhibits and an all-weather observation point. A giant arrow marker on the Quanah Parker Trail is located on private land several hundred yards from the park entry gate.

Give a listen to what makes Palo Duro Canyon so inspiring. “In Canyon Country,” words and music by Barbara Brannon

Reserve your tickets for the Texas! Musical Drama, summers from June–August
 

 


Location

  • 11450 Park Road 5
  • Canyon, Texas
  • 79015

Contact

Hours & Fees

  • Although the park is generally open 365 days a year, entrance hours vary, and parts of the park are closed occasionally due to weather or for wildlife management. See website or contact park.

  • $5 per person; children 12 and under free. Free with Texas State Parks Pass. Camping fees are additional.


Map & Directions

The only public entrance to Palo Duro Canyon State Park is at the gate on TX Highway 217. From I-27 east of Canyon, Texas, travel east on TX 217 for 12 miles, ending at the park entry station.


 

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Read more about Palo Duro Canyon in the Handbook of Texas Online.