Not far from Interstate-40 as well as Interstate-27 is Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas. It’s been called the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” and for good reason. The canyon is more than 70 miles long, and approaches 1,000 feet deep. Its red rock walls are similar to features you might see in the Grand Canyon, just on a slightly smaller, more Great Plains type scale. Palo Duro Canyon forms part of the eastern escarpment edge of the Llano Estacado, a giant, table flat plain in western Texas and eastern New Mexico.
Historically, the Llano Estacado is where the fabled city of Quivira was said to be. In the 1500s, Spaniard Francisco Vasquez de Coronado went in search of Quivira, which legend had it was a place a vast gold riches. I’m guessing it was just a ruse to get him to go away. There was, of course, no city of gold, just the featureless plains of the Llano Estacado. Three centuries later, the canyon and the plains became one of the last stands of the Comanche nation, and where Quanah Parker honed his skills as a warrior.
Today, at the northern end of Palo Duro Canyon you will find Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Being not far from Amarillo, it’s a well developed park with lots of things to do. There are over 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Most of them are fairly short in length, but you could combine several of them in one day and feel like you had a diverse adventure.
There are campsites, cabins, guided trail rides, and ranger programs. The following link from Texas Parks and Wildlife is the best one to inform you on all there is to do in Palo Duro Canyon: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Although there are no cities of gold, Palo Duro Canyon is a gem on the Great Plains!