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Old 02-09-2016, 06:25 PM   #1
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Best boondocking around Palo Duro?

Does anyone have any recommendations for boondocking locations in or around Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas? 29,000 acres - there must be options somewhere.

We are limited to traveling during Spring Break (March 14-18) as we are not retired and we still have a minor child in school. Spring Break is the worst possible time of year to go there, crowd-wise, but we take what we can get. I have a State Park Pass, I am well-versed in the reservation process, and I've already checked that option. Of course as I expected, there is nada-zippo-zilch in the way of reservable sites that week. But that is of no consequence to us because we just got done with our DIY solar system (blog series here) and we no longer need hookups, yayyy!

I've noticed from recent travels that some Texas state parks have what appear to be unofficial non-hookup "overflow" areas that are not necessarily advertised as such, but if you show up and are obviously self-sufficient, they may let you in. Anyone have experience with that at Palo Duro? Or areas outside of it? Thanks!
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:59 PM   #2
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I've been to Palo Duro about half a dozen times and I can't think of anywhere they could put you. Maybe in the parking area for the outdoor theater? I would call them direct and ask, what have you got to lose?

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Old 02-09-2016, 07:04 PM   #3
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The short answer, no.

But the state park is a small part of Palo Duro Canyon. I believe a lot of the canyon is private land. Just before you get to the park gate there is an outfit that offers off road tours.They might have some info.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:54 PM   #4
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There is a pretty highly rated campground in Amarillo, 20 or so miles away-Ft. Amarillo RV park.
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Old 02-10-2016, 12:14 PM   #5
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There is a pretty highly rated campground in Amarillo, 20 or so miles away-Ft. Amarillo RV park.
The last time we stopped in Amarillo, the wind was blowing (as usual) and the stench from the feed lots was overwhelming.
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Old 02-10-2016, 12:33 PM   #6
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Try Buffalo Lake Wildlife Refuge just west of Canyon. It is run by the U.S. Fish & Game department & only has dry camping.
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:00 AM   #7
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Try Buffalo Lake Wildlife Refuge just west of Canyon. It is run by the U.S. Fish & Game department & only has dry camping.
Thanks for this - that's a good fallback position. I wasn't aware of that place.
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:21 AM   #8
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I can supply additional details to my original question.

We are a Class B and so "boondocking" is subject to a bit more interpretation than it might be if, say, we were hauling a trailer. What I perhaps should have asked, more to the point, is about back country accessibility in Palo Duro.

If you are hauling a trailer and you tell the front gate that you want a back country permit, there could be an issue with that. Many state and federal back country trail heads have parking areas designed solely for passenger vehicles. With a trailer, you might not fit. Plus the gate personnel might be suspicious about your intentions.

If you are driving an Airstream Interstate and you tell the front gate that you want a back country permit, they probably won't bat an eyelash (I've done it before). It's a passenger vehicle, albeit a rather large one. It goes in the service-less trail head parking area with all the other passenger vehicles. Maybe you actually do pile your camping gear on your back and maybe you do exit your vehicle and trek out across the land to find a remote campsite. Or maybe you just hole up in your vehicle, boondocking. Nobody really quibbles at that point unless you cause some kind of disturbance or draw attention to yourself.

^^ That right there is a huge part of the reason why we got an Interstate (I originally wanted an Airstream trailer and my husband overruled me). That added flexibility is golden in a state like Texas where our population has risen by 10 million people since 1990 but park capacity hasn't really increased at all. It is impossible to get reservations in many of our parks; wait times are up to a year.

So I perhaps should have asked if anyone has back country experience in Palo Duro. There are few details on the TPWD website; it just says "call" for information. I wouldn't mind hearing some user experience. Thanks!
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