Side trip from Route 66 in Amarillo to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Route 66 Side Trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Greetings from Amarillo Texas ... Land of Modern Pioneers on Route 66!Greetings from Amarillo Texas ... Land of Modern Pioneers on Route 66!

We've had the opportunity to get out on the road and explore Route 66 numerous times in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California ... and Texas!

Amarillo is the largest city on the 178 mile portion of Route 66 from Oklahoma to Texas and into New Mexico. The city is flush with historic sites, Route 66 memorabilia, hotels and restaurants, and lots of fun places to see.

Interstate Highway I-40 traverses the city east to west, much as Route 66 did in earlier years. I-27 heads south to Lubbock, while U.S. Highway 87 leads north to Dumas, Clayton and Raton.

While some Route 66 travelers enjoy the experience of staying only on the Mother Road itself, others take the opportunity to make a adventuresome short side trip to visit the spectacular Palo Duro Canyon.

Spend a day, or more, and enjoy the excitement of Palo Duro Canyon before returning to Route 66!

Palo Duro Canyon

Located 25 miles south of Amarillo is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the nation's second largest canyon system after the Grand Canyon. It is also 14 miles from the town of Canyon.

Palo Duro Canyon is the most spectacular and scenic landscape feature in the Texas Panhandle. It was formed by millions of years of water erosion by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and the West Texas wind.

There is an 800 foot descent to the canyon floor and more than 16 miles of paved road. Palo Duro Canyon State Park offers fantastic scenic views, historical sites and markers, picnic tables, public restrooms and showers. It also features miles of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, and a souvenir shop with grill. There are a variety of camping and parking areas suitable for day trips, overnight tent camping, or extended stays in the largest of campers and motor homes.

The "Texas" Outdoor Musical runs Tuesdays through Sundays in the summer at the Pioneer Amphitheater in the park. Watch the stories, struggles and triumphs of early settlers. The family-friendly show has singing, dancing, fireworks and lots of Texas humor!

For more information, visit the websites of Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Texas Outdoor Musical

Welcome to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas American flag and Texas flag flying proudly at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas and Historic US Highway 66
Curvy, 15mph road at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas Sunset scene at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas
Dry creek bed at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas Beautiful vista at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas
Red rocks and blue sky at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas Texas Longhorn herd at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, Texas

Interactive Map of Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Lodging Options in Amarillo

We travel through, and to, Amarillo and Palo Duro on a frequent basis. We have stayed there dozens of times over the decades. Today, the city offers more than 100 hotels and places to stay. It is a great stopping point for those traveling Historic Route 66, with not only many lodging options, but dining possibilities as well.

There are three primary clusters of lodging in Amarillo - downtown, on the east side of the city along I-40, and on the west side near Soncy Road (exit 64 from I-40). We prefer the Soncy Road area, near I-40 and the medical district, but that is just a personal preference.

Listed below are some popular lodging options, with reviews from TripAdvisor. NOTE: We have no affiliation with any of these properties, but only list these as a starting point in your lodging selection.

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

Hotels and lodging in Amarillo, Texas

All Hotels in Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo West
Soncy Road Area

Holiday Inn Express Inn & Suites Amarillo West

Home2Suites by Hilton

Drury Inn & Suites

Homewood Suites Amarillo

Downtown & Central

Embassy Suites Downtown

Courtyard by Marriott Downtown

Staybridge Suites Amarillo-Western Crossing

Courtyard Amarillo West/Medical District

I-40 East/Airport

Hampton Inn & Suites Amarillo East

LaQuinta Inn & Suites Amarillo Airport

Fairfield Inn & Suites Amarillo Airport

Big Texan Motel

Cactus Cove Inn & Suites


Other Attractions and Things to Do in the Amarillo Area

The Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District preserves 13 blocks of cafes, antique shops, boutiques, nightspots and restaurants. The district includes commercial development in the San Jacinto Heights Addition west of Amarillo’s central business district. 

It runs along an east-west axis through a grid system of streets between Georgia and Forrest Avenues.  Developed as an early 20th century streetcar suburb, the district was transformed by the establishment of a national transportation artery running through its center. The road was originally paved with gravel in 1921.

The Historic District is Amarillo’s most intact collection of commercial buildings that possess significant associations with Route 66.  Featuring elements of Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and Art Moderne design, these buildings represent the historic development phases of this early 20th century suburb and the evolving tastes and sensibilities of American culture. 

Entering Historic 6th Street in Amarillo
Entering Historic 6th Street in Amarillo, Texas on Route 66
Texas Route 66 Visitor Center in Amarillo
Texas Route 66 Visitor Center in Amarillo, Texas

The Big Texan

Modern-day travelers through the city probably know about "The Big Texan" steak house! It was originally on Route 66, but is located today not far away, on I-40 ... it's a place many tourists to Amarillo want to check out. In 1960 Bob Lee opened the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch on Route 66 in Amarillo. The Big Texan moved to the east side of Amarillo on I-40 in the 1970s.

Shown below is "The Big Texan" as it appears today ... home of the free 72 oz steak (with caveats)

The Big Texan in Amarillo, home of the free 72-oz steak Route 66 Roadside Attraction: The Big Texan in Amarillo, home of the free 72-oz steak

Jack Sisemore RV Museum

The Jack Sisemore RV Museum is located at 4341 Canyon Drive in Amarillo. The Sisemores began restoring and collecting unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago. Their museum houses many of the RVs in their collection including a Flxible Clipper Bus, the first Itasca motor home ever built, the oldest Fleetwood in existence and many other RVs from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Several vintage motorcycles are also on display. The museum is free to the public. Phone 806.358.4891 for information and hours of operation.

Website of the Jack Sisemore RV Museum

Jack Sisemore RV Museum in Amarillo Texas

Popular in Amarillo: The Cadillac Ranch

As one heads westbound out from Amarillo today on I-40 between exits 60 and 62, the Cadillac Ranch comes into view quickly, on the south side of the road, on a privately owned pasture. This "interactive" folk art site of ten Cadillacs is the work of financier Stanley Marsh. Creators included Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group "Ant Farm".

It was created in 1974 and consists of what were old or junked Cadillac automobiles, many sporting those classic tail fins. The cars, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, face west in a straight line.The cars are half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. As the city of Amarillo grew and encroached on the original site, the cars were moved two miles west to its current location in 1997.

Take exit 60 from I-40. Access is from the service road on the south side of the interstate. Park, cross over the fence gate, and walk across the field about 100 yards ... free admission! Graffiti is allowed as you will quickly learn!

It isn't always a sunshine day at the Cadillac Ranch ... from May 1 - June 12 of 2023 parts of the area received over 10 inches of rain!
A muddy, rain soaked Cadillac Ranch on Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo


If you are traveling in a recreational vehicle or trailer, the Cadillac RV Park is located nearby, at the intersection of I-40 and Hope Road. A bit further west is the Oasis RV Resort.

The Cadillac RV Park on I-40 west of Amarillo
The Cadillac Ranch ... classic, half-buried Cadillacs! West of Amarillo Texas on I-40

The 2nd Amendment Cowboy near Amarillo, Texas

The Cadillac RV Park is located just west of Amarillo, at the intersection of I-40 and Hope Road near the Cadillac Ranch. The 2nd Amendment Cowboy stands tall at the RV Park.

The 2nd Amendment Cowboy at the Cadillac RV Park The 2nd Amendment Cowboy at the Cadillac RV Park


More things to See and Do in Amarillo

You are probably going to visit the Cadillac Ranch, and tour the Historic 6th Street District. And maybe eat at The Big Texan. But then what? There is lots more to do in Amarillo!

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo, Texas
American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum celebrates and preserves the history of the American Quarter Horse. Changing, one-of-a-kind exhibits are on display year-round, as is a gallery of western art. It is located at 2601 East I-40, and is open from 9:00 am to 5:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Other popular attractions include ...

  • Amarillo Botanical Gardens
  • Amarillo Zoo
  • Cowgirls and Cowboys of the West
  • Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
  • Amarillo Museum of Art
  • Texas Air & Space Museum
  • The Helium Monument

More Information about Amarillo & Route 66

Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council:

City of Amarillo

Amarillo Chamber of Commerce

Amarillo Economic Development Corporation

TxDOT Amarillo District

Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport - Route 66

Texas Route 66 Visitor Center in Amarillo

Old Route 66 Association of Texas



Route 66 road trips across Texas

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Texas Route 66 Passports

Texas Route 66 Passports

The Amarillo CVB has developed the Texas Route 66 Coin Passport Program in honor of the upcoming Route 66 Centennial. Travelers can collect nine uniquely crafted coins as they explore the various cities and attractions along Route 66 in Texas.

The Route 66 Passport was designed by a local Amarillo artist, Gabrielle Bivins of Fresh Press Designs, and was made to look like a classic vinyl record with a genuine vinyl record with coin slots cut out to place the collected coins in. Visitors will find QR codes for self-guided tours, a curated playlist, festival information, and a custom map to guide them along Texas Route 66.

The annual Texas Route 66 Festival will kick off years of celebrations starting in 2023, leading up to the centennial of Historic Route 66. Next year's festival will be held June 6 - 15, 2024. The festival is packed with events along the Texas route, including classic car shows, Texas Route 66 bus tours, cattle drives, parades, music restivals, and a grand finale festival on Amarillo's Route 66 Historic District

More information about the Texas Route 66 Passport