Texas To-Dos: July
The Panhandle (Check out Palo Duro Canyon)
It’s hard to find a horned toad in Texas anymore, but you’ll have a decent shot during the summer months in Palo Duro Canyon, the gem of Texas’ Llano Estacado, south of Amarillo near Canyon. Here you’ll find Texas’ answer to the Grand Canyon—at 29,182 acres and approximately 120 miles long, Palo Duro is the second-largest canyon in the United States. Water erosion formed this canyon some 90 million years ago; today it’s 800 feet deep in places and streaked with red, yellow, and purple striations of clay, mudstone, sandstone, and gypsum.
In the 18th Century, when hundreds of thousands of buffalo roamed the Panhandle grasslands, the canyons were home to the Comanche and Kiowa. The best way to explore Palo Duro is the way they did, on horseback. Bring your own horse or rent one from the stables at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, then hit 1,500 acres of trails. You’ll find special camping areas for equestrians along with regular campsites—some primitive, some with electricity—and seven cabins for rent, including several that were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
From June through August, you can also enjoy a performance of TEXAS, the musical drama staged outdoors in an amphitheater carved from a canyon wall.
From the January 2013 issue.