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Review:  Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Review: Palo Duro Canyon State Park


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 02/07/2019 17:54:44
Trip Date 10/06/2018  

Camping | Texas | Canyon | Amarillo | Camping in Texas Panhandle | RV Sites in Texas Panhandle | Camping in Texas State Parks | Where to Camp near Amarillo | Things to Do in Texas Panhandle



While still in our home state, our fall westbound RV adventure took us to the Texas panhandle. We spent three nights enjoying the campground as well as hiking around the canyon of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Texas has some awesome state parks, and this one is definitely a favorite of many. The canyon at Palo Duro Canyon is second in size in the United States only to Arizona's Grand Canyon.

If you are planning to camp in the Lone Star State, take a look at this review following our three night stay. You'll find an overview of the park and campsite amenities, plus ideas of what to do to occupy your time during your stay. For those interested in history and nature, this park has both ... plus so much more - and the camping is not too pricey!



Campground Amenities at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Located in the Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park has 97 reservable sites with both water and electric. In addition, the park offers drive-up and backpacking required primitive sites as well as both group and equestrian sites.


Entrance to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Entrance to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Although we didn't have the opportunity to see the entire park during our short visit, the many areas that we did either drive or hike to were clean, well cared for and overall well maintained. There are plenty of dumpsters in the campground areas plus additional refuse disposal bins throughout the park, so there's no excuse for littering!

The only restroom / bathhouse that we stepped inside was the one in Mesquite Loop, the loop where we camped. While it was a bit dated and could definitely use some maintenance, it was by no means unusable. The showers were out of service during our visit due to an issue with the electrical current. (We were advised of the non-working showers during our check-in and had the option to select a different camping loop.)


Bathhouse in Mesquite Loop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Bathhouse in Mesquite Loop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

During our evening walk around the loop where we were camping, we ventured across the main road into the area that is home to the Cow Camp Cabins. As luck would have it, we met a father and son who were just arriving at one of the limited service cabins that they had rented for the evening. They invited us to step inside to check it out and even take a few pictures of their cabin before they unpacked.


Limited Service Cabin in Cow Camp Loop

Limited Service Cabin in Cow Camp Loop

Amenities in Limited Service Cabin in Cow Camp Loop

Amenities in Limited Service Cabin in Cow Camp Loop

Sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas, the park is huge - covering over 45 square miles or 28,000+ acres. There is lots to see and do for both the young and old alike, including seeing the canyon from both the rim and the floor! For those who enjoy walking or hiking, the park has you covered. However, for anyone who prefers to admire the natural beauty at a less active pace, there are scenic points throughout the park that require just a few steps. In fact, lots can be seen from the comfort of your vehicle, and signage throughout the park is quite good.


Signage near Spanish Skirts at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Signage near Spanish Skirts at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

You can increase your knowledge of Texas history, do some shopping, enjoy a bite to eat and more all within the boundaries of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Upon your arrival at the park, be sure to ask about events scheduled during your stay which may include ranger led activities or even a performance by a nationally recognized band! If you enjoy day trips, there's even more to do in the nearby city of Amarillo, just a 30 minute drive away.

We made an initial deposit of $24.00 for our stay at the state park. As our previously purchased Texas State Parks Pass had just expired, we paid $70.00 at check-in to purchase a pass valid through October 2019. With the pass, our balance due was $36.00, making the cost for our three night stay total $60.00. (At the time of our visit, we saved $30.00 on park entrance fees, however the fee has since increased from $5.00 to $8.00 per person per day. Additionally, we saved $12.00 on one night of camping by using one of our four coupons entitling us to a 50% discount on our second night of camping. We saved enough to pay for more than half of our annual pass just with one three night stay!)



Campsite Amenities at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Reservations for campsites at Palo Duro Canyon State Park can be made online, and are highly encouraged - especially during peak season. As we drove into the park in early October, we were immediately asked whether or not we had a confirmed reservation. Fortunately we did, as without a reservation we would have been given some alternative campgrounds to consider, as the park was already at full capacity.

After several delays, site selection is now available for Palo Duro Canyon and other Texas State Parks at the time that you make your reservation. (For updates on reservations at Texas State Parks, check State Park Reservations.)

Of the four camping loops with electric and water (Hackberry, Juniper, Mesquite and Sagebrush), all have picnic tables, either a fire ring or grill and nearby restrooms and showers. Sites in the Hackberry Loop have 20- and 30-amp electric while sites in the other three loops have 30- and 50-amp electric. Of the sites that we saw during our visit, all were clean and well maintained, however there were lots of pesky flies throughout the campground. The only paved sites in the park are priced at an additional $2.00 per night and are located in Juniper Loop. The park's three dump stations are located nearest the Hackberry, Mesquite and Sagebrush loops.

Upon our late afternoon arrival, all of the outer loop sites were already spoken for, so with the assistance of the ranger who helped to check us in, we chose site 86 in the Mesquite Loop. The site was flat, and backing in to park our RV was very easy. Neither our site nor any other site in the loop had shade trees, however we did have a pergola-style cover over our wooden picnic table with a nearby grated fire ring.


Campsite 86 in Mesquite Loop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Campsite 86 in Mesquite Loop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Cooking Breakfast on the Griddle at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Cooking Breakfast on the Griddle at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Campsite 86 in Mesquite Loop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Campsite 86 in Mesquite Loop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

While we did have good broadcast television reception during our stay at the park, we had absolutely no cell or data service through either Verizon or T-Mobile. (Rumor has it that AT&T is the only carrier with service in the park.)



Favorite Campsites at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

With so much to see and do in the park, we only had the time to grab our park map and search for our favorite campsites in the Mesquite Loop and Hackberry Loop.

Hackberry Loop

While many sites in the Hackberry Loop are flat and have a number of trees, some are not long enough to accommodate our 33-foot travel trailer. Although sites 7, 20, 22, 24 and 26 are pull-through, they didn't make our favorites list! In numerical order only, here's where we would hope to stay on a return visit:
  • With its big tree, we liked site 9;
  • Site 12 is surrounded by trees making it more secluded, and has a great "rock" view; and
  • Designated as a park host site, if site 33 happens to be available, it is a great all around site.

Mesquite Loop

Although the sites were a bit more rustic in the Mesquite Loop, we preferred the views of the canyon from sites in this loop. In order of our preference, our favorite sites are:
  • All things considered (location, view, ease of parking, slope, length, etc.), site 81 is our favorite;
  • Although site 79 has a rock climbing trail beside it which could make it a higher traffic area, the site is a close second;
  • With a nice rock behind it, site 92 is our next choice - but only with a shorter RV (it is difficult for longer RVs to find a level parking area);
  • Site 91 has a nice view out of the RV's back window;
  • While interior sites 82 and 86 have less privacy, they do have good views all around;
  • Site 89 has more privacy, however it is less level;
  • For a longer RV, our next favorite is site 94; and
  • Although not in rank order, park host site 77 is also on our list of favorites (as usual!).



Hiking at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

With 16 trails on the Palo Duro Canyon State Park Trails Map, there is hiking for all skill levels. Rated easy, moderate and difficult, the hikes range from the Pioneer Nature Trail (a 1/2 mile loop trail with an estimated 30 minute hiking time) to the almost 4 1/2 mile (one way) Lower Comanche Trail. Of the more than 30 miles of trails in the park, for those preferring to explore on mountain bike or horse, there are options as well.


Hiking at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Hiking at Palo Duro Canyon State Park



Sites to See in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

To read more about what to see and do as well as hiking recommendations during a stay at the state park, stop back soon to take a look at our post titled 18 Things to See and Do in One Day at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. During our early fall visit, we packed in a lot during the one day that we devoted to exploring the park. You'll find a combination of hiking, views, history, nature and wildlife all while seeing the park's main points of interest.

Texas State Parks

Of all of the state parks in Texas, which is your favorite, and why?




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Review:  Palo Duro Canyon State Park






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Created On 02/06/2019 12:38:28  
Updated On 02/08/2019 22:58:07
Scheduled On 02/06/2019 14:54:44
Posted On 02/07/2019 17:54:44
Last Editor Stacy
Location  Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, TX, United States
LinkId  PaloDuroCanyonStatePark
StoryId  1549474708197





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