When my three sons were young, my husband and I would pack them into the car for trips around Texas and surrounding states, hauling a small pop-up-tent trailer behind. These were perfect vacations for little boys who loved to wade in rivers and tromp through forests singing “Be Kind to Your Web-footed Friends” at full volume. One of our favorite trips was to see TEXAS, the outdoor musical extravaganza in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
TEXAS has a feel of pageantry to it, dramatizing big themes around the settling of the West in general and the Panhandle in particular, played against the stark backdrop of Palo Duro Canyon itself. The way that the seating is carved out of the side of the Canyon, there is a gigantic stage spread out before the audience, filled with settlers, cowboys, Indians, horses, sound and fury.
I understand that the show is sophisticated enough now that they produce wind and lightning on cue, but when we visited back in the 1960s, production depended on Mother Nature’s cooperation. She did not disappoint. Sheet lightning filled the sky that night and dust swirled from the wind and the pounding hooves of Longhorns and horses. The show is also timed to the evening’s sunset, just one more treat for the senses.
This summer TEXAS is set to run Tuesdays through Sundays, June 2 – August 19. Go to the TEXAS website to get ticket information, details about the chuck wagon dinner, and driving instructions to the Pioneer Ampitheater in Palo Duro Canyon State Park (14 miles south of Amarillo).
Once you have trekked as far as the Panhandle, might as well take in the beauty of the Canyon itself and the State Park — available for camping, hiking, horseback riding and various Ranger programs. More information at the PARK site. A unique experience all in all, whether or not you are also riding herd on three rambunctious boys.
— Jonnie Martin