CANYON, Texas – Sometimes referred to as the “Texas Grand Canyon,” Palo Duro Canyon has a rich history and is the second-largest canyon in the U.S.
While the Grand Canyon is roughly 277 miles long, Palo Duro measures approximately 120 miles long. RoamRight.com lists the Grand Canyon’s depth at around 6,000 feet while Palo Duro is roughly 800 feet deep.
Despite its much smaller scale, Palo Curo Canyon is a great minivacation destination for Texans - although if you’re heading there from San Antonio you’ll need to plan ahead because this isn’t a day trip. It’s about a 7.5-hour drive from the Alamo City.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located at 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5 near Canyon, Texas - the heart of the panhandle.
Once you get to the canyon there are many things you can do. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website notes that the canyon can be explored by foot, mountain bike, horse or car with more than 30 miles of trails available for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Camping, glamping and cabins are all options for overnight stays if you want to sleep in the same areas that people have inhabited for the last 12,000 years. The Clovis and Folsom peoples were the first humans known to live in the canyon and they hunted large herds of mammoth and giant bison, according to TPWD officials.
Be advised, while most state parks, including Palo Duro Canyon, are currently open, many have reduced their capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Day pass and camping reservations are highly recommended and can be made online or by calling (512) 389-8900.
Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest park in the state parks system today, with about 28,000 acres and it opened to the public in 1934, according to TPWD. If you’re lucky enough to find an artifact, officials ask that you leave it in place and notify park staff.