Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Top choice in Palo Duro Canyon

This multihued canyon was carved by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, a big name for a little river. Its 26,000 acres attract hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers, while its magnificent colors and desert light draw artists and photographers. From the visitor center (which is the best overall viewpoint), half a mile beyond the gate, the road winds down to the canyon floor, then loops on both sides of the river, passing campgrounds and trailheads.

The great gorge has sheltered and inspired people for a long time. Native Americans lived in the canyon as long as 12,000 years ago, and Coronado may have stopped by in 1541. Palo Duro was the site of an 1874 battle between Comanche and Kiowa warriors and the US Army.