Palo Duro Cayon is one of the most amazing hidden gems of Texas. (It only took me ~9 years of living in Texas to find out that it existed.)
It's the second biggest canyon in the United States, 120 miles long, after the Grand Canyon. While Palo Duro might not be quite as "grand" it's still a sight to be in awe of. The red dirt and giant canyon walls practically transport you to the Arizona desert without having to leave Texas.
It's such a unique and epic spot perfect for adventurers' planning to elope! After trekking through the canyon I've picked up a few tips on how to have the best adventurous (ish) elopement in Palo Duro Canyon!
#1. avoid the summer months
Descending into the canyon in the summer feels like descending into hell. As if Texas summers weren't hot enough already, the deeper you go into the canyon, the hotter it gets. Temperatures can get up to 115 degrees at the bottom and there’s not much shade coverage on most of the trails. On top of the scorching heat, there are tons of biting flies that are also straight from hell. They will literally follow you around. (Bring the EXTRA intense bug spray for these assholes and be ready to reapply too).
So maybe camping's not your thing, but you still want to spend the night in the park surrounded by nature. I get it. Trust me. One of the coolest features Palo Duro has to offer is their cabins! It gives you the option to stay in but still be inside the park. Make your getaway a real adventure away from society and fully immerse yourself in the experience the park has to offer. They have 5 cabins with different views so you can wake up and enjoy the canyon from the comfort of a comfy bed.
#3. pricing & permits
Palo Duro Canyon is an easy one! For small adventure elopements, you don't need any permits or need to check in or make plans with the superintendent. As long as your event doesn't have too many guests and won't be blocking the trails you're free to hike around and find a beautiful scenic spot for your vows and your ceremony. All you have to do is pay the entrance fee and you're good to go!
#4. plan ahead - make a reservation
The last thing you want to do is show up in your wedding attire, with a face full of makeup, and find out that the park is at max capacity. Since you don't need to be approved by the superintendent for small adventurous elopements there is no guarantee you'll get into the park. On most weekdays the park is less crowded and getting in isn't too high on the list of concerns but it's always better to be safe than sorry! Plus, it's always nice to check something off your to-do list ahead of time and rest assured that your spot is saved on your wedding day. Call ahead or make a reservation online. Here’s the link to making a reservation for Texas State Parks: Click Here!
#5. the dirt is red!
How is this a tip? If you've never been to West Texas you won't know how red the red dirt is until you get there. A fair share of dresses and shoes have been ruined trekking around this red desert terrain. Your white dress will be a great shade of red by the end of the day. The good news, you can wear it again and no one will recognize that it's your wedding dress because it's a whole new color. I'm all for getting your dress dirty, running through the rain, but if you want those things to come out of the dress afterward, scotchgard it now.