Another stop on our 2021 Summer X-Country Road Trip! Amarillo, Texas. It has an amazing state park right in the pan handle, the Palo Duro Canyon. With days ahead on our journey, an overnight stay in a tiny house (Airbnb) and a hike in this canyon was absolutely going to be an highlight for our journey.
Join me today as I share my itinerary and hike in one of Texas’ most beautiful spots and the second largest canyon in America.
Hiking in July in Texas might not be your idea of fun, but I have a warped sense of adventure. As soon as we saw the chasm and natural beauty of this park, I knew I’d be hiking a trail. Yea, it was mega hot and I live in Alabama, but I was gonna do it. I didn’t really have to talk my friend Melissa into it either. She lives in Colorado now and hikes all the time. She says its not always perfect conditions to hike there too, but definitely gorgeous.
After leaving Santa Fe, New Mexico, on our way to Texas stopped in Tucumcari, New Mexico and Historic Route 66. We were making great timing so we stopped for a bit of lunch and to check things out. If you have ever seen the ®Disney movie Cars, poor Route 66 reminded me of the forgotten but once great tourist destination of Route 66. I think this route had an already hurting locally from a depressed economy and was devastated by COVID. It broke my heart. Businesses were barely hanging on.
We found a place to eat at Del’s Restaurant.
As a practicing vegan/vegetarian and stopping for a bite in America’s southwest, I knew it was going to be a challenge to find anything remotely green. I was right. So when in Rome, my only non-vegetarian meal on the trip, I enjoyed a beef burrito with beans and rice combo. You can’t win them all.
Del’s also had a pretty cool souvenir gift shop. So after we picked up a few things we headed back on the road.
Back on the road to Texas
After our very nice stop in Tucumcari we still had a few hours to make it to Palo Duro by early afternoon. I had purchased a DAY PASS for the Canyon online a few months before. It was super easy. This stretch of the journey was straight and lots of flat land. It was us and a whole lot of trucks delivering goods to America.
Goodbye, New Mexico, Welcome to Texas!
What you need to know before you go to the Canyon and State Park! You may get lucky and just drive up to the entrance to the park and get a day pass but in case you have lived under a rock during COVID, you know that hiking and outdoor recreation has increased 60%! Yes, people are getting back to nature when they travel adding kayaking, hiking, cycling, rock climbing and more to their itineraries. I wanted to make sure we were all set, so I booked our day pass online, easily and efficiently. Printed out our tickets and screen shot them to our phone so I would have them. It was super easy.
Hiking the Park
We decided after entering to grab a few shots from the ridge and make our way to the Paseo del Rio trail in the valley of the canyon. The hiking map is easy to download and carry with you or save it to your phone. This trail touted that it was just an hour out and back and was a cowboy route during the 1800s. It also was listed as easy.
We carried water in our packs and our poles. When you are hiking in the heat and summer in the south, it is super important that you carry poles. Another tip is to talk a lot. Snakes don’t like motion or noise. Neither do other critters.
We didn’t see any snakes, but we did see a snake skin. EEEK!
I’m not gonna lie, it was hot. Hot, hot! So after our hike out and back we hopped in the car to drive around the park. If we had more time, we would have definitely investigated more trails.
CAMPING at PALO DURO STATE PARK
Camping has also increased exponentially. Just check RV Sales in 2020 and 2021! They are still going crazy. We drove through several of their campsites.
Although we didn’t camp at the park, we were very close to it in our tiny house Airbnb overlooking the canyon. Here’s a bit more information on camping at Palo Duro State Park in Amarillo, Texas. There are several campsites with electricity and water. Restrooms with showers and more. Their website indicates that PEAK SEASON for camping at the park is January 1 to December 31. HA! They got you, so as you can see, the park is always busy.
Our tiny house – AirBnb
I did a little bit more research than usual to find this tiny house overnight stay along the ridge at the park entrance. Park of campground and attraction site this brilliant little place had incredible views and a beautiful sunset.
I was also ready to do a little bit of cooking for ourselves. Many, many meals on this road trip, we hopped in the car and made a short trip to the grocery store. Grabbed a few vegetarian options and grilled out on the porch. Sheree is a perfect host and had everything we needed. Her communication was spot on, I loved it!
When you plan a ROAD TRIP alternate stays in Airbnbs or VRBOs to have control over your food costs and menu.
Heading to Oklahoma
After another peaceful night’s sleep we rose for some coffee and breakfast bars and hit the road early. We were determined to get to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge at a decent our in Oklahoma. Another three hours to the refuge and a few more for our overnight in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma. More on that next week!
There is so much to explore in Texas and my Texan friends have assured me we have not even seen the most gorgeous part. It is hard to imagine because this breathtaking canyon and state park is unforgettable and left an indelible imprint on our hearts.
TRAVEL TIP: If you do plan on visiting the canyon, plan on more than one night. It just isn’t fair to yourselves or travelers.