Sunset over Lighthouse Rock in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.


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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Palo Duro Canyon attractions

1. Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

12.83 MILES

A Texas plains must-see, this magnificent museum covers a tremendous amount of ground, both literally in terms of floor space, and thematically, with an…

3. Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum

16.31 MILES

Long before today's posh gas guzzling RVs hit the road, laden with every convenience right down to the satellite dish, intrepid Americans looking for…

4. Amarillo Livestock Auction

17.17 MILES

For a slice of the real West, head on a Monday morning to the Amarillo Livestock Auction, just north of SE 3rd Ave on the city's east side. The auction is…

5. Don Harrington Discovery Center

19.75 MILES

Sadly you can't inhale any helium and talk like Donald Duck, but the lighter-than-air gas that was an Amarillo industry is honored at the Don Harrington…

6. Wonderland Amusement Park

19.8 MILES

If plowing sedately along the bland interstate leaves you ready for a little excitement, shake off your lethargy by careening through the double loops of…

7. Cadillac Ranch

22.12 MILES

To millions of people whizzing across the Texas Panhandle each year, the Cadillac Ranch, also known as Amarillo’s ‘Bumper Crop,’ is the ultimate symbol of…

8. Wildcat Bluff Nature Center

22.55 MILES

Stretch those road legs at this 600-acre nature center, 8 miles northwest of town off TX 335, where trails wind through grasslands, cottonwoods and bluffs…