The city of Amarillo is set apart by its open spaces and scenic beauty, and city residents are sure to take advantage of all the scenery has to offer.
Perhaps the most inspiring venue is the rugged Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located 20 miles southeast of Amarillo. It attracts 350,000 annual visitors, who camp, hike and mountain bike.
“We are nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas,” says Randy Ferris, superintendent of the 26,275-acre state park. “Palo Duro is the second-largest canyon in the United States.”
The canyon stretches 120 miles long and is adorned with dramatic geological features, including multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls similar to those in the Grand Canyon. The painter Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived in nearby Amarillo and Canyon in the early 20th century, wrote of the Palo Duro, “It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color.” And motorists in the Armstrong and Randall counties portion of the park are especially lucky to be able to drive along the canyon's floor.
“They certainly can't do that in the Grand Canyon,” Ferris says.
Another excellent attraction for hiking in Amarillo is Caprock Canyon, which stretches six miles and features a challenging 720-foot elevation gain along the way. Caprock officials say the ideal time for hiking along the scenic canyon in Briscoe County is from fall through spring. The hiking paradise is situated in a rural area that isn’t near any large towns, and arguably the most spectacular section is just southeast of Amarillo, where the steepest cliffs and the narrowest transition from high to low are located.