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Lighthouse Trail

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

High Great Plains, Texas

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Lighthouse Trail

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  • Capitol Peak greets hikers at the very start of the trail.- Lighthouse Trail
  • Summer flowers below Capitol Peak.- Lighthouse Trail
  • These red rocks are reminiscent of canyon country in Southern Utah.- Lighthouse Trail
  • First view of the Lighthouse formation from the trail.- Lighthouse Trail
  • This is an exposed desert hiking trail. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection.- Lighthouse Trail
  • Sandy trail leading to the Lighthouse.- Lighthouse Trail
  • Water can flow over parts of the trail after rainfall.- Lighthouse Trail
  • Bench in prime view of the Lighthouse.- Lighthouse Trail
  • Stone platform at the base of the Lighthouse.- Lighthouse Trail
  • Looking down on the Lighthouse from an upper vantage point. Getting here requires some scrambling.- Lighthouse Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Scenic trail. Unique geology. Close to interstate and Amarillo.
Cons: 
Hot in summer. Little shade. No water.
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Region:
High Great Plains, TX
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Highest point: 
3,120.00 ft (950.98 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Park entrance fee
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall, Summer
Suitable for:
Biking, Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
5.44 mi (8.75 km)
Total elevation gain: 
300.00 ft (91.44 m)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,840.00 ft (865.63 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The Texas Panhandle is not widely known for outdoor destinations, but the seemingly endless flat plains here actually give way to one of the largest canyon systems in the country, Palo Duro Canyon. Part of its upper reaches are within Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which offers many opportunities to explore unique geology and nature that you might not expect to find in this part of Texas. Even residents of nearby cities like Amarillo may be surprised to find redrock formations among tall canyon walls that are reminiscent of patterns in Utah and Arizona. One of the most photogenic features is the Lighthouse, a stone tower jutting out from beneath the canyon rim. A moderate hike through beautiful desert terrain leads to views of the Lighthouse, and a short but steep scramble earns access to a scenic stone platform at its base.

This multi-use trail begins from a parking area along the main park road. The scenery gets good immediately, with the steep red slopes of Capitol Peak appearing as soon as you round the first corner. The views are good the whole way, and soon the Lighthouse comes into view in the distance. Keep going with your eyes on the prize, and soon you will reach a shady resting place at the end of the trail where you can return to your car or keep climbing higher to reach better views from the base of the tower.

This is an open desert trail with little shade and no drinking water. Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection, and prepare appropriately for weather.

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