Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. At 120 miles long, it is not quite the Grand Canyon, but it is still pretty impressive! Formed primarily from water erosion, the Prairie Dog Town fork of the Red River flows through the canyon and continues to erode the surrounding rock. Located in the Texas Panhandle just south of Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon has been a favorite Texas State Park destination for generations. The very popular TEXAS! musical draws crowds even in the sweltering summer.
Unlike the Grand Canyon, you can drive down to the bottom of the canyon and camp on the canyon floor. There are miles of hiking trails. The trails in the canyon are easy and relatively flat. The more challenging Lighthouse Trail is the most popular of all their hikes, however. At the end of the trail is the famous Lighthouse rock outcropping and crowds happily trek the six mile roundtrip journey it requires to view it up close.
We visited in mid March. Just weeks before, the canyon received over a foot of snow, and the trees were not beginning to bud. The daytime temperatures were in the 50s, with the nights down in the 30s. The seemingly ever-present Panhandle wind was cold and biting, but we still enjoyed our adventure (see also “Visiting the Palo Duro Rim Cabins” for more on this trip). Take a look!