Near the rim of Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the U.S., lies the appropriately named town of Canyon. It’s a community with just the right mix of Panhandle beauty, culture, and adventure to make the area well worth a day trip.
There is no better place to fuel up for a full day of tripping than this old-school diner specializing in traditional cowboy breakfasts. My favorite is the “Biscuit and Gravy Slopper,” a biscuit topped with your choice of meat, hash browns, cheese, and eggs, all smothered in sausage gravy or pork green chile stew. You might need a nap after consuming it, but once you wake up, you’ll be ready to go.
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Set on the West Texas A&M University campus, this is the largest history museum in the state. The art deco building contains exhibits covering every era of life on the plains dating to prehistoric times. Dinosaur fossils stand in the same building as Wild West weaponry, cars that cruised Route 66, trucks that carried black gold, and buggies that settled the frontier. You’ll need at least a couple of hours to see it all.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
The state park protects a stunning canyon that stretches 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and up to 800 feet deep. The visitor center lookout provides one of the state’s most awe-inspiring views. Visitors can explore more than 30 miles of trails like the Lighthouse Trail, which marks a 2.8-mile journey to a giant 300-foot spire known as the symbol of Palo Duro Canyon. Visit in the summer months to catch TEXAS, an outdoor musical recounting the frontier history of the Texas Panhandle with actors, dancers, and fireworks.
Palo Duro Canyon Adventure Park
If you’re not content experiencing the canyon from the ground, you can enjoy it from the air. This park has zip lines, towers, and bridges to get your heart racing. The thrilling “Canyon Crossing” zip line takes visitors over the canyon on a quarter-mile ride.
Texas Rose Steakhouse
This cowboy steakhouse seasons its steaks to perfection and sizzles them over a flame grill. The restaurant also serves classics like chicken-fried steak and fried jalapeños. Visit on a Friday or Saturday for a slice of smoked prime rib, and save room for a fresh-baked cinnamon roll.
So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS. To view the Canyon episode visit thedaytripper.com. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.