One of the absolute highlights of the #LLFAcrossTexas road trip was our visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Located in the panhandle of Texas near Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States.
Of course, I went into this trip knowing that it was the 2nd largest in the U.S. and yet when we pulled up for the first time and I got out of the car to take the photo above…the sheer size of it took my breath away. It is incredible. I’m not sure how else to put it.
After the initial shock wore off we checked in at the park office and got the key to our cabin. Then we drove all the way down into the canyon to find it. At first we thought our cabin was at the bottom of the canyon, but when we looked out the back window we realized that we still weren’t quite at the bottom as there was a cliff with a drop off of another 100 feet or so. After getting everything into the cabin, we headed over to play in a nearby river crossing.
Shallow river crossings like this one are quite common in Texas State Parks and I love them because it’s a perfect place for Jackson to play. The water is not deep and the stones and mud could keep him occupied for hours. It was so relaxing that we stayed and played in the river until the sun began to set.
The view of the sunset that first night from the porch of our cabin was like something out of a story book. Truly.
Once the sun had gone down we were happy to settle into our sweet little cabin. The cabin was easily one of the coolest parts about our stay.
The adorable cabin included a fireplace, mini fridge, microwave, a window unit AC/Heater, a table with chairs, and a bunk bed large enough to sleep 4 adults. (Cabin rentals range from $60 – $125/night depending upon their location in the park and the services offered with them)
AND….I have no photos of the inside of it. (you can click HERE to see photos from TPWD though) The thing is…I was planning on taking photos of the cabin our 2nd day in the park but due to a WILD thunderstorm with torrential downpours all that changed when one of the park rangers knocked on the door around 6 am to say that there had been tons of rain overnight due to the storm and that the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River was rising quickly. Since there were several low water crossings between our cabin and the park exit we had to decide very quickly if we were going to leave right then or if we’d be willing to stay in the park until the rushing waters had receded (which could have been a day or two considering the record rainfall the night before).
We knew we didn’t have enough supplies to stay and so we threw everything into my mom’s SUV as the rain continued to pour down.
The river was rushing and high at all 3 of the water crossings but we managed to make it out ok. I was so sad that this part of trip had to be cut short due to the extreme weather. We canceled our plans to hike and see the canyon that afternoon and decided to check out the lodge visitors center before we left instead.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is beautiful and offers so much to do for those who visit. Every summer visitors can catch an outdoor performance of the musical drama, Texas. There are of course plenty of opportunities to explore while hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There is also a stunning new pavilion which can be rented for events like reunions or weddings.
The park gets very busy during the Summer months while the play is showing, so be sure to make your campsite reservations well in advance if you intend to stay during that time.
Day admission to the park is $5 for anyone 13 or older. Kids are 12 and under are FREE.
For more information on Palo Duro Canyon State Park visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/palo-duro-canyon
You can also make park reservations by calling (512) 389-8900.
10 parks down, 83 to go!
Disclosure: I covered all admission and travel expenses to visit this state park. This post is not sponsored in any way.
*Information sourced from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.