Looking to live on the edge during your next vacation? If you mean it literally, then consider planning a trip to the Rim Cabins of Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Some people refer to Palo Duro Canyon as “The Grand Canyon of Texas” — and for good reason. Located about a 30-minute drive from Amarillo (and about eight hours from Austin), Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the country. This geological beauty is around 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep.
To enjoy such a spectacular natural wonder, visitors can't do much better than staying a night or two on the rim of the canyon itself.
There are three Rim Cabins in the state park to choose from: Sorenson, Goodnight, and Lighthouse. While they were all built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Rim Cabins have received some upgrades over the years, like A/C, heaters, and microwaves, so no worries about roughing it. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed inside the cabins.
“Our ... cabins have the rustic charm and modern conveniences to make any stay nice. But the real gem is the view,” says Lindsay B. Pannell, a park interpreter and volunteer coordinator at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. “Each cabin is sitting at the edge of the spectacular Palo Duro Canyon with vistas of the Spanish Skirts, soaring turkey vultures, not to mention the absolutely breathtaking sunrise that kisses the far canyon rim with stunning zeal every morning.”
Aside from taking in the stunning views (make a note to check out the stars at night, too), outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of recreation options during their stay at the park. With more than 50 miles of trails that range in difficulty level, the area is great for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There are plenty of opportunities for great wildlife viewing and birding as well. Some local animals of note are roadrunners, the Texas horned lizard, the Palo Duro mouse, coyotes, and bobcats.
Throughout the year, the state park puts on various events like guided hikes and birding, so be sure to check their events page when planning your trip or visit the park's headquarters for arrival tips.
"We also encourage guests to venture out to the local town of Canyon, where they will be able to visit the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, one of the largest in the state,” Pannell adds.
If you’re interested in staying at one of the canyon’s rim cabins, it pays to plan ahead. “Our cabins are booked almost year-round. With the new reservation system, guests now have the ability to reserve up to five months in advance,” Pannell explains. “Our suggestion is to plan as far ahead as you can and prepare your trip for the best experience possible from temperature at the desired time of year to activities to meals.”
To check the availability for the lodging or to make an online reservation, visit the Palo Duro Canyon State Park page on the Texas Parks & Wildlife website.