Playing in the Panhandle Weekend Adventure - A Dual Canyon Experience
It doesn't get much better than enjoying Palo Duro Canyon, a round of golf at Comanche Trails Golf Complex, a tasty steak at Big Texan, and a relaxing evening at Starlight Canyon B&B, so grab your hiking shoes, mountain bikes, golf clubs, and head to Amarillo for a fun weekend.
Here's the plan for the weekend:
- bike, ride, or hike some of Palo Duro Canyon's 35 miles of some of the best trails in Texas
- try to eat a 72 ounce steak, or watch someone else try it, at the world famous Big Texan
- play golf at Comanche Trace's Arrowhead course which was rated #5 as the Best Economy Courses in Texas by the Dallas' Morning News
- relax the muscles and sleep soundly at Starlight Canyon B&B
- enjoy some of the other nearby Amarillo attractions
A Fantastic Stary at Starlight Canyon B&B
Starlight Canyon B&B is a small four room B&B located in the perfect place for this weekend adventure - its half way between Amarillo and Palo Duro Canyon. Better yet it has four very comfortable, unique, and well appointed rooms for you get some rest after a fun filled day of activities. Starlight is situated on five well treed acres in the upper Palo Duro Canyon and as we drove into the property, the front yard had 8 deer staring us down and questioning what we were doing on their beautiful grazing grounds.
We stayed in the Aspen room and loved it. It is a very spacious and well done and features a west Texas decor, aspen four poster king bed with soft pillows and fine Egyptian cotton bedding, a large wood burning fireplace, antler chandelier, leather couch, an oversized bathtub, satellite TV with DVD player, mini kitchen with fridge, microwave, and a coffee maker. Best of all was the private patio and hot tub - what can be better than grabbing a bottle of wine or a couple beers and sitting in a hot tub with your best friend, working out the kinks from a full day of biking, hiking, or golfing, and under a majestic sky full of stars!
It might have been better if we had scheduled an in-room Swedish Massage; a Moon Massage where we would have been pampered in the outdoor gazebo with soft music, candles, and the canyons fresh air; or a Couples Massage. Starlight also offers other packages to make your weekend enjoyable, some of which include: romantic add ons like patio candle service, rose petals and room candles, or chilled champagne; a candle-light dinner; or a picnic lunch for your day trip to Palo Duro Canyon.
Before you head our for your first adventure, make sure you partake in a full made to order breakfast by a roaring fire in the historical stone main house at Starlight Canyon - you'll need the energy. Get an early start if you plan on heading to Palo Duro Canyon for a day hiking, biking, or just enjoying the scenery.
Hiking and Biking in Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the United States - you guessed it, the Grand Canyon is deeper - and offers visitors unbelievable scenery, spectacular geologic wonders, and a panorama of colors. Palo Duro is known as the "Grand Canyon of Texas" and is a "Texas must visit" location and a true historic and ecological treasure. The Canyon is over 120 miles long and 800 feet deep with geological formations that are over 250 million years old.
Palo Duro State Park controls access to the Canyon and maintains the trails, campsites (RV, tent, and backpacking sites), visitor center and store, cabins, and Pioneer Amphitheater - read our review of this. Speaking of the Pioneer Amphitheater, you might want to plan your trip around one of the events at this outdoor amphitheater with the majestic canyon walls as the back drop for the play. From June to August, the amphitheater is home to the musical drama "Texas" and several other events and concerts throughout the year.
On your way to Palo Duro you're first "wow" will be the majestic view as you start to descend over 800 feet to the base of the canyon. Now comes the hard part, should we:
- bike - if you want a good cardiac workout and a thrilling ride down, then ride the 16 miles of roadway through the Park and up to the top of the canyon (not for the faint of heart or inexperienced bikers) or choose from several easy to strenuous mountain bike trails to enjoy
- hike - you can hike along any of the easy trials along a meandering creek at the base of the canyon or trek any of the other trails which range from easy to heart pumpers to the top of the canyon
- jog - you've got several choices for pumping the legs
- ride - why not replace the baseball cap with a cowboy hat and enjoy the scenery on a guided horse back trail ride with Old West Stables which is located in the park
We are not aware of anyplace in Texas that offers a better variety of trails for multi-use - Palo Duro Canyon is truly a hiker's and bikers heaven. There are over 10 trails of various lengths and degrees of difficulty and ruggedness - speaking of degrees, it gets hot in the summer and at each trail head there is a thermometer to alert you to the potential heat danger - bring lots of water. Some of the easy trails are along the base and follow a meandering creek. Other tails zig zag their way to the top of the canyon. The signature tail is the Lighthouse Trail which ascends to the Lighthouse Peak and the famous hoodoo. Most of the trails are multi use - hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian. The Park Rangers can provide you with lots of good information on the trails as well as some of the history, historic sites to visit, and geological formations of all shapes and colors.
You'll really enjoy that hot tub after a full day of hiking or biking in the canyon. You can't stay in the hot tub all night, you need to feed your face and add some calories to help you have a good round of golf the next morning. Amarillo has lots of choices for dining, but if you want a steak then you've got to visit the famous Big Texan. The Big Texan is home to the "Free 72 ounce steak" - which is free if you can eat it as well as a salad, roll, and baked potato within an hour. The record is an unbelievable 8 minutes - only 1 on 12 are able to devour that much food within the hour. If you don't make it, you're out $72 but you will most likely have enough steak left over to feed a family of 4! It's worth the visit to "go for it" or to watch and talk to the contestants at the 72 ounce table (set on a platform and center stage) as they give it a try. The other steaks are pretty good, there are roving county singers, a game room, and more in what may be one of the biggest touristy restaurant in Texas.
After soaking the sore muscles in the hot tub, a good nights sleep, and a hearty breakfast you should be rejuvenated and ready to go chase that little white ball! Comanche Trace Golf Complex is home to 36 holes of golf and the Arrowhead Course is consistently ranked in the top 5 of the Dallas Morning New's "Best Economy Courses."
Arrowhead is a links style course that was created by moving a lot of dirt to add contour and berms to what would otherwise be very flat Amarillo terrain. It's a fun and challenging course that is fair and provides an opportunity to score well if you can play the wind. Read ourto learn more about this very affordable must play Amarillo course.
Another course to consider is Ross Roger Golf Course also gets high ratings as one of the best economy courses in Texas. Here is a link to a map with all of the Amarillo Golf Courses included the one's we've played, reveiwed, and rated.
If you have time, here are some other things to see and do in or around Amarillo:
Visit the Amarillo Visitors Bureau Site to find more to see and do.