Called the Grand Canyon of Texas (it's 120 mi/193 km long and 20 mi/32 km wide), Palo Duro is a surprising change in the otherwise flat and barren landscape of the Panhandle. It lies 310 mi/500 km northwest of Dallas. Plan to drive through the canyon on the 8-mi/13-km scenic route. Once on the canyon floor (1,100 ft/335 m below the rim), you can picnic among stands of shady junipers and hike and ride horses along the creeks. Don't miss the summer production of Texas, a musical drama presented outdoors against a dramatic backdrop of cliffs early June through mid-August. http://www.palodurocanyon.com.
A campground is available in the park, but reserve well in advance to get a spot: Palo Duro is a popular place, and the overflow lot at the park entrance is not really where you want to end up. During the summer, it can be quite hot during the day (drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration), but it cools off quickly at night. You should also take insect repellent—when the weather is wet enough, the mosquitoes can be fierce.
The small ranching community of Canyon is near the state park. Stop by the town's Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum to see outstanding exhibits on petroleum and farming history, as well as Native American artifacts and western memorabilia (http://www.panhandleplains.org). The museum takes you from the area's earliest geologic history through pioneer days (with a reconstructed frontier town). Nearby Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a good place for sighting songbirds and raptors (bald eagles and peregrine falcons) in their natural habitat.
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