Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is a place where erosion shapes the land,
four bioregions intersect, cultures have met and clashed and
change is the only constant. While experiencing the majestic
beauty, take time to appreciate the sights and sounds that have
been lost in most urban settings. Allow yourself to be enriched
by these natural wonders. While doing so:
WELCOME TO “THE GRAND CANYON
OF TEXAS,” THE SECOND LARGEST
CANYON IN NORTH AMERICA. PALO
DURO CANYON STATE PARK
CONSISTS OF 27,173 ACRES IN
RANDALL AND ARMSTRONG
PARKLAND WAS DEEDED BY PRIVATE
OWNERS IN 1933. THE CIVILIAN
CONSERVATION CORPS (CCC) SENT
SEVEN COMPANIES OF YOUNG MEN
Clean up litter to help ensure that this natural and cultural
resource continues. This helps prevent stream pollution, and
keeps the scenery beautiful for other visitors. Feeding wild
animals is prohibited at state parks. By not feeding the animals
you help them to stay on a healthy, natural diet while also
preventing animals from making contact with visitors and
from digging through camp sites looking for food.
Remember it is important not to disturb archeological and
paleontological sites because these artifacts help researchers
link us to our past. Don’t Pocket the Past.
Watch for postings by the Entrance Office to see if there is
a fire ban. Wildlife and resource management will help
preserve our heritage for future generations.
We are the stewards of these great lands and each have a part
AND MILITARY VETERANS TO PALO
DURO CANYON FROM 1933 UNTIL 1937
The Red River Wars by Bret Cruse
Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier by Ernest Wallace
The Story of Palo Duro Canyon by Duane Guy
Charles Goodnight: Pioneer Cowman by Sybil J. O’Rear
Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman by J. Evetts Haley
TO DEVELOP ROAD ACCESS TO THE
CANYON FLOOR AND CONSTRUCT
THE VISITOR CENTER, CABINS,
SHELTERS, BRIDGES, TRAILS AND
ALTHOUGH MUCH OF THE HARD
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, Texas 79015
(806) 488-2227 • www.tpwd.texas.gov/palodurocanyon
WORK REMAINED TO BE DONE, PALO
DURO CANYON STATE PARK
OFFICIALLY OPENED ON JULY 4, 1934.
Proud Sponsor of Texas Parks
and Wildlife Programs
© 2018 TPWD. PWD BR P4506-0007K (7/18)
In accordance with Texas State Depository Law, this publication is available at
the Texas State Publications Clearinghouse and/or Texas Depository Libraries.
TPWD receives funds from the USFWS. TPWD prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, and gender,
pursuant to state and federal law. To request an accommodation or obtain information in an alternative format, please contact TPWD on a Text Telephone
(TDD) at (512) 389-8915 or by Relay Texas at 7-1-1 or (800) 735-2989. If you believe you have been discriminated against by TPWD, please contact
TPWD or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office for Diversity and Workforce Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.
Texas State Parks is a division of the
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
D U R O
C A N Y O N
S T A T E
P A R K
FLORA AND FAUNA
alo Duro has a wide variety of
wildlife. The endangered Palo
Duro mouse is found in only
three counties in the Texas panhandle
and nowhere else. Park visitors may
meet mule deer, roadrunners, wild
turkey and cottontails. The threatened Texas
horned lizard is also found in this region. Other wildlife
in the park includes white-tailed deer, coyotes, Barbary
sheep (an introduced species), bobcats and raccoons. Bird
watching is a popular park activity. Golden-fronted
Woodpeckers, Canyon Towhees and Red-tailed Hawks
are a few of the many interesting birds living in the canyon.
“Palo Duro” is Spanish for “hard wood” in reference to the
Rocky Mountain Juniper trees still seen in places in the
canyon. Other common tree species seen in the canyon
include mesquite, red berry juniper, one seed juniper,
cottonwood, willow, western soapberry and hackberry.
Wildflowers and grasses also dot the canyon walls and
floor. Most commonly seen are Tansy aster, Engleman
daisy, Indian blanket, paperflower, Blackfoot daisy,
common sunflower, sideoats gramma (official state grass),
buffalo grass, sand sage, yucca, and prickly pear cactus.
THE BATTLE OF
PALO DURO CANYON
Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie
The decisive battle of
the Red River War,
1874-1875, was the
final campaign against
the Southern Plains
Led by Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie, the 4th U.S.
Cavalry descended a narrow zigzag trail down the south
wall into the canyon and attacked the first of five
encampments of Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyenne at
dawn, September 24, 1874.
As the warriors attempted to set
up a defense, the people fled up
the canyon taking only what they
could carry. The Cavalry pursued
them for a distance then returned
to the encampments and burned
the teepees and winter food stores.
The horse herd of approximately
1,400 head was captured and
driven to Tule Canyon where
“Lone Wolf ” was the
Mackenzie had his supplies.
Kiowa leader whose
Keeping enough horses for his
camp was the first that
troops and rewarding the Tonkawa
4th Cavalry attacked
scouts, Colonel Mackenzie
in the early morning of
ordered the remaining 1,100 shot
September 28, 1874.
the next day. Facing the coming
winter without food or horses meant starvation. This
forced the Indians to return on foot to the reservation in
Fort Sill. Their traditional way of life was gone forever.
The Red River War forced the
Southern Plains tribes to surrender and return to reservations in
Oklahoma. This opened the land
to settlement. In 1876, Charles
Goodnight and John Adair
established the JA Ranch in the
canyon. It provided grass, water
and shelter for cattle as it had for
the Southern Plains Bison herds
that still roamed the area.
Goodnight allowed the shooting of the bison to make
room for his cattle but his wife, Mary Ann, became
concerned that the bison would become extinct. Through
their efforts the bison were saved and for many years the
descendants of that bison herd remained on the JA
Ranch. The ranch reached its peak in 1885 with a total
land area of over 1,325,000 acres of land and 100,000
head of cattle.
COURTESY PANHANDLE-PLAINS HISTORICAL MUSEUM
P A L O
Palo Duro Canyon is approximately 120 miles long, 600 to
800 feet deep, and is the second largest canyon in the
United States. The canyon was formed less than 1 million
years ago when an ancient river first carved its way through
the Southern High Plains. The rocks expose a geologic story
which began approximately 250 million years ago, layer by
layer revealing a panoramic view of magnificent color. The
canyon’s archeological and ethnological treasures suggest
about 12,000 years of human habitation, rising and waning
as climate varied among periods of abundant moisture,
aridity, and sometimes fearfully severe drought.