Palo Duro Canyon State Park Scenery Photographed By Sara Turbyfill Near Amarillo, Texas.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park: Explore the Grand Canyon of Texas

Photography, Travel, Wildlife Watching

The Grand Canyon of Texas

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States and is commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas. The canyon stretches approximately 120 miles long and has an average width of 6 miles. Visitors can access the canyon by visiting Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is 30 minutes from downtown Amarillo, TX.

The park includes large areas of Caprock Escarpment, which is a geological feature that separates the North Central Plains from the High Plains. Caprock Escarpment is a layer of hardpan that was formed by rivers and often features arroyos or large rock formations. As a result, people from around the world visit this state park to admire stunning rock formations that can only be found in the Texas Panhandle. In addition, visitors also enjoy activities like hiking, photography, and wildlife watching.

Palo Duro Canyon Lighthouse Trail

The Lighthouse Trail is a popular hiking trail within the park. As its name suggests, this trail leads to the Lighthouse, which is the most famous rock formation at the park. The trail is 5.6 miles long and has an elevation gain of about 520 feet.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Lighthouse Trail Photographed By Sara Turbyfill In Texas.
The Lighthouse Trail photographed by Sara Turbyfill at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Although the Lighthouse Trail is considered a moderate course, the end of the trail gets a bit tricky. In order to access the Lighthouse, hikers must climb a steep hillside that is covered in rocks. Therefore, this trail isn’t recommended for everyone. However, if you do decide to make this trek, you won’t be disappointed. The view from the top is absolutely stunning!

The Lighthouse Rock Formation Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Palo Duro Canyon.
The Lighthouse rock formation photographed by Sara Turbyfill in Canyon, TX.

In addition to the Lighthouse Trail, there are several other hiking trails located within the park. Other highly trafficked trails include the Rock Garden, Capitol Peak, and Rojo Grande. For a full list of hiking trails, check out the Best Trails in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Texas Longhorns, Eastern Collard Lizards, and Wild Turkeys

Whether you’re an avid hiker or not, the park also offers numerous opportunities for wildlife watching. For instance, there is a herd of Texas longhorns in an enclosed pasture at the park entrance. The pasture is located to the left of the park entrance, immediately after passing through the gate. Don’t miss your chance to see these iconic Texas livestock during your visit!

Longhorn Photographed By Sara Turbyfill In Canyon, TX.
Texas longhorn photographed by Sara Turbyfill in Canyon, Texas.

In addition to the Texas longhorn herd, there are several species of lizards that live at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Common checkered whiptails, eastern collard lizards, and Texas horned lizards are often spotted throughout the park. The best place to see these native lizards is near trails, so be sure to keep an eye out on your hike. Many of the lizards at the park are brightly colored and have distinct patterns, making them excellent photography subjects.

Collard Lizard Photographed By Sara Turbyfill Near Amarillo, Texas.
Eastern collard lizard photographed by Sara Turbyfill near the Lighthouse Trail in Canyon, Texas.

Finally, visitors have the chance to observe several dozen bird species throughout the park. Belted kingfishers, chimney swifts, northern flickers, and wild turkeys are just a few frequent flyers. For a full list of birds that have been spotted at the park, be sure to download the Palo Duro Canyon State Park Bird Checklist.

Wild Turkey Photographed By Sara Turbyfill At Palo Duro Canyon.
Wild turkey photographed by Sara Turbyfill in Canyon, TX.

Visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park

To conclude, visitors can enjoy an abundance of activities at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Whether you’re a birdwatcher, wildlife photographer, or a devoted hiker, there are plenty of activities for you to enjoy.

The daily entrance fee is $8 per person that is 12 years of age or older. However, a Texas State Park Pass can be purchased for $70. The Texas State Park Pass gives one individual unlimited free entry to any of the state parks in Texas for an entire year. If you plan on visiting multiple Texas State Parks within the next year, this might be a great option for you. For more information, check out the resources below.

One thought on “Palo Duro Canyon State Park: Explore the Grand Canyon of Texas

  1. Palo Duro Canyon is such a magical place. Back in college to get a breather from our overly intense Design studios at the Texas Tech University College of Architecture, we would leave out mid-day Friday from Lubbock stocked up on Shiner Bock, steaks, and anything we felt would go with them, and head to Palo Duro Canyon for the weekend. It wasn’t uncommon for us to just show up to our 1st class Monday straight in from camping. We were happy. Others? Oh, let’s say they’d wish we would have washed off the weekend so to speak 1st. It played a little surreal tennis with the intensity of that wonderful program,

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