Driving through the cattle and oil country of the Panhandle on our way to Palo Duro Canyon, our GPS says the state park is in 2 miles.  We laugh at the foolish device because anyone can see that these flat, wide-open plains continue for miles in each direction.  About 30 seconds later, our breath is taken away by the sight of the canyon. 

Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the U.S., is a place of rugged beauty that deeply contrasts the land surrounding it.  According to legend, we were not the first to be surprised by the canyon.  The story is that Coronado and his men nearly fell into the canyon on their exploration.

Families will love marveling at the beauty of the canyon with their children.  The changing light on the canyon walls during sunrise and sunset is prettier than any work of art.  For children, there is plenty of space to play, trails to explore, and rocks to climb.  We enjoyed camping in the park, but we are also impressed by the rustic CCC cabins perched right on the canyon's rim.  Talk about a view!  Perhaps the greatest experience is that being in the canyon makes us feel small and causes us to lift our eyes to our great Creator.  To quote our son, "God must be REALLY big."

 

 

We have two favorite hiking trails.  The CCC trail towards the park entrance is a short 1/4 mile trek that leads to an amazing birds-eye view.  Our other favorite is the Lighthouse trail.  At 6 miles roundtrip, it was challenging for our young family, but very rewarding.  "We made it to the lighthouse" became the victory cry, and our children's hearts were filled with pride after completing their adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of a trip to Palo Duro Canyon is attending the musical drama TEXAS.  With breathtaking scenery and amazing special effects, the musical production is a treat for the entire family.  Before the show, the steak dinner and live music complete the experience.  We strongly recommend that you plan your trip to Palo Duro during the summer months when TEXAS is performed.

Another fun option when visiting Palo Duro is experiencing the Cowboy Morning Breakfast at Elkins Ranch.  The breakfast is a bit pricey, but the setting is gorgeous and the cowboy entertainment is fun.

 

 

 

 

Amarillo, a quick 30 minute drive from Palo Duro, offers fun options for families looking to extend their trip beyond the state park.  The Don Harrington Discovery Center offers hands-on science exhibits that our children loved exploring.  Amarillo is also home to Wonderland (the largest independently-owned amusement park in Texas).  Our visit to Wonderland was rained out, so we do not have a first-hand recommendation of it, but it looks like it would be a fun experience for families.  Also, attending a summer dance performance at the Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian is a truly unique entertainment experience with a great message for children. 

When in Amarillo, we recommend staying at the Residence Inn.  Our two bedroom suite gave us plenty of room to spread out, and the full kitchen is a nice amenity for traveling families.  The family-friendly Residence Inn also provides a free breakfast and indoor pool.

 

 

When we speak of North Texas, why is it that we are referring to Dallas?  Take your family to Amarillo to see what the True North Texas has to offer.  Below is a short highlight video of our experiences:

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