Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Full of history and wildlife, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon system in the United States. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located at the base of the canyon, as a medium between nature and campers. It is a 60-mile ravine with 800-foot cliffs. Within the valley you can find a wide variety of creatures including the Palo Duro mouse, which lives with in the walls of the canyon safe from predators, well, except for rattlesnakes that is.

There are nine camping areas, but only five of them are for RV users, and only one is meant for those who have horses. There are over 30 miles of trails for you to explore, whether on a dirt bike or a horse. Many of the trails offer backpacking options for those who would like to see the entire park on foot. The canyon walls are over 250 million years old and each layer tells a different story of the earth’s evolution.

Due to its location, the weather is normally hot during the day and a bit cooler at night. The park is busier during the summer months but the rest of the year, you can find the park filled with people from all walks of life, appreciating the beauty of the canyon and the art of the layered walls. With so much to discover, you’ll definitely want to bring your RV to Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

RV Rentals in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Transportation in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Driving

Along the curving roads of the canyon, you will find Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just 12 miles east of Canyon on State Highway 217. It is recommended that you keep your speed low as you enter the park and head towards your site. The road to the entrance is a bit steep and narrow with hair pin turns, however it is still manageable. You will have to take it slowly while downshifting to compensate for the weight of your rig or trailer.

There are parking lots dotted all around the park. The park is busier during summer months but become more open during the fall. Nights can be very cold but no need to worry, just bring a good jacket and you will be alright. There are a few towns nearby where you can get groceries or toiletries, but you can also get those at the Trading Post in the park.

There may be a fire ban depending on when you go, so be sure to stay updated by calling the park ahead of time. If there is inclement weather the park may close to protect campers from getting caught in a flash flood near the low bridges leading to the camp areas in the back of the park. If you are arriving at night remember that most of the sites are first-come, first-served.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Campsites in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Reservations camping

Amarillo KOA

If you are headed to check out local attractions in Amarillo, Texas, the Amarillo KOA might be the perfect place to extend your stay. Accommodations at Amarillo KOA include cabins, studio lodges, and large RV sites that can host any camper or RV up to 90 feet long. RV sites also offer both 30- and 50-amp power with either full hookups or just water and electric. The campground is centrally located among a variety of attractions, as well as the Route 66 Historic District which offers dining, shopping, and more. Depending on the season, visitors to the region may enjoy outdoor musicals or adventure into the second-largest canyon for hiking and biking, as well as scenic jeep and horseback rides. Amarillo KOA offers a relaxing environment where you can take a dip in the heated pool or sit in the shade while your family dog enjoys the K-9 park. Other amenities include cable TV, restroom/shower facilities, and bike rentals.

Equestrian Campground

The Equestrian Camping Area is located right next to the Mesquite Campground, but does not have any electricity. If you plan on bring your horse, they must pass a Coggins test of no more than 12-months-old. You are allowed up to two horses and no more than eight people per site. There are 10 sites available. There is a water hookup and the nearest shower is in the Mesquite Campground. You are allowed to bring a portable panel for your horses. You will have to call ahead and ask if you can bring a generator to provide electricity. Horses are only meant to be used in the 1,500 acres and trails meant for horseback riding. This area has a few picnic tables, fire rings, and two water faucets. There is no limit on the amount of time you can remain in this area, so enjoy riding around the second largest canyon system.

Hackberry Campground

This pet-friendly campground has 32 sites available with water and 20 and 30 amp hookups. There is not a sewer hookup, but a dump station is located in the campground. Restrooms and showers are located within walking distance. The sites are well spaced and the majority of the larger rigs will fit comfortably here. There is hardly any shade and little privacy so be mindful of your neighbors and please no bonfires after 2 a.m. You will find a picnic table and fire ring or grill at your site so you can cook up some delicious grub. There is no limit on how long you can stay here, so get a monthly pass to enjoy the different seasons. Some sites of paved, which provides easy access for parking your rig.

Sagebrush Campground

There are 47 sites available among the Sagebrush and Mesquite Campgrounds. Sagebrush offers 30 and 50 amp hookups and water hookups as well. While it does not have a sewer hookup, a dump station is nearby. The amphitheater is right next to Sagebrush so if you plan to go to the musicals during the summer, this is a great campground to be in. You'll love soaking in the wondrous views of the Texan hills all around you.

Amenities included are hot showers, restrooms, picnic tables, and a fire ring. It is within a half-mile distance to the Old West Stables and the Trading Post, allowing access to some of the tours offered in the park and food as well. There is no limit on how long you can stay, so pick up a monthly pass to explore the canyon at your own pace. You can bring your pet with you as long as they are kept on a leash.

Mesquite Campground

There are a total of 47 campsites split between the Mesquite and the Sagebrush campgrounds. You'll find a picnic table and fire ring at your campsite where you can enjoy relaxing picnics. Restrooms and hot showers are located nearby. The Mesquite Campground has 30 and 50 amp electrical and water hookups available.

You will enjoy the tremendous views at this campground, under the backdrop of sandy hills filled with brush. The sites are paved, making it easy to park your RV. You'll be close to the Equestrian Camp and the Youth Camp area. There is no maximum amount of time you can stay here, but remember to get a monthly pass if you are going to stay over 3 weeks. Pets are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Juniper Campground

Juniper has a total of 18 campsites with water and electric hookup. There is not a sewer hookup, but there is a dump station nearby if you need it. Amenities include restrooms, a picnic table, and a fire ring. The closest shower is in the Mesquite Camp Area, so be prepared to walk half a mile to the shower. There is a 60 feet maximum length for RVs. There is no limit on how long you can stay, but if you decide to stay longer than 3 weeks, it’s best to get a monthly pass due to it being cheaper. There are 3 ADA accessible sites at this location and only two cars are allowed per site, as extra cars will cost a fee per night. The sites are paved, making it easy to park your rig. Your pet is welcome to stay with you provided they are kept on a leash.

First-come first-served

Hike-in Primitive Camp Areas

If you are into primitive camping this state park offers opportunities for backpacking and camping in the country. Permits for using the hike-in primitive camp areas are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. You'll need to hike at least a half-mile from the parking area in order to access your campsite. You'll have to bring your own drinking water, but you can use a containerized fuel stove for cooking. Restrooms and showers are located less than a half-mile from the trail head. The use of these sites is dependent on the weather, so make sure you check with the park rangers before heading out.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

In-Season

Attending a Show

Each summer the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation puts on a set of musicals to tell the history of Texas. These started in the 1960’s and have continued to draw large crowds ever since its first premier. You can order your tickets online if you would like to attend, but you can also buy them at the door. They perform from Tuesday through Saturday, every week during the summer. If you want to come a little early to the show, you can enjoy a delicious dinner hosted by Feldman’s Wrong Way Diner.

Horseback Riding

You are allowed to bring your own horse to the park, but if you do you will have to stay at the Equestrian Basic Campground. There are 10 sites available with a stable for you to keep your horse comfortable. Over 1,500 acres of land is put aside for horseback riding, but you can also take your horse on the trails as well. There are guided tours available by the Old West Stables. They have been in operation since 1998 and offer a wide range of activities. You will need to make a reservation if you wish to participate in the tour.

Hiking

There are over 30 miles of trails for you to explore during your RV trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The majority of the trails are marked with signs to help you stay on the right path. Please keep in mind that some of the other hikers are actually backpackers and their aim is to walk all of the trails. Remember to bring a water bottle and sunscreen with you as it can get very hot on the trails. You will see an abundant of wildlife around you, but please leave them as you found them in order to keep their habitat unimpaired.

Off-Season

Shopping at the Trading Post

The Trading Post is the equivalent of a camp store, but with a little bit more items for you to purchase. You can get firewood, jewelry, souvenirs, meals, and much more for a reasonable price. The store also provides meals and snacks if you are feeling hungry or just peckish. You can find guide books of the canyon and others relating to the animals and the plants found in the canyon. You may also want to stock up on sunscreen if you forgot to bring yours in your rig.

Attending Nature Walks

Palo Duro Canyon State Park has a lot of historical significance that you may of never heard about. The Battle of Palo Duro Canyon was a major loss for the southern Native Americans who had to surrender and move to a reservation in Oklahoma. Along your nature walks you will find a few interpretive signs that provide a brief history of the canyon. Be on the lookout for hoodoos, which is a certain rock formation found in the canyon where a larger rock is found balancing on a smaller base. Remember to bring your camera in your rig and be prepared to come across some amazing sights full of history and the beauty of nature.

Birding

Birding in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park takes on an entirely different meaning than in other parks. There is a wide variety of birds that live in the park. You can find wild turkey, but they are not for your consumption. The park provides a bird guidebook that you can pick up at the Trading Post on your drive in. On your birding adventure you can turn it into a game and see who can spot some of the park’s natives like the golden-fronted woodpeckers, the Mississippi Kites and Western meadowlarks

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