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By June 2020, I had spent nearly three months at home. For someone who travels for a living—sometimes on the road three weeks out of a month—that was a major change. I wanted to get outside my four walls, but I also wanted a safe escape. I didn't expect to find that escape—an oasis filled with wow moments—in the Texas Panhandle. But, that's exactly what I found when my husband and I were guests of Doves Rest Cabins sitting on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. I can recommend a visit to Doves Rest Cabins when you want to “disconnect to reconnect” as owner Jeff Means likes to say.
I have only been in Texas for about three years and there is so much I haven't yet explored. Friends recommended that we check out some of the Texas state parks, but we had no idea what to expect. When we booked the cabin at Doves Rest, we knew it was fairly isolated and on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. I honestly couldn't even visualize what a canyon could look like in Texas. I was in for a thrill.
Getting to Doves Rest Cabins
Palo Duro Canyon is only about 30 miles south of Amarillo. It is about six hours from our location in the Dallas area, and about the same distance (within 30-45 minutes difference) from El Paso, Tulsa, Wichita, and Denver. It's only four hours from Oklahoma City or Albuquerque.
We had a lovely drive across Texas, changing from the rolling hills just west of Dallas and into the wide-open plains as moved toward the Panhandle.
Doves Rest Cabins are about 15 miles east of the cute, historic town of Canyon, Texas. Canyon is home to West Texas A&M University, so it has a blend of college-town feel and the old west. Although we didn't visit any of the shops or museums because we were there during the pandemic while most everything was still closed, we did meander through the town square. We stopped by Palace Coffee Company for a to-go cup of coffee.
There are a number of great restaurants in Canyon, but we chose to use the full kitchen in the cabin and prepared our meals there. Part of the charm was to get out, disconnect, and spend time in nature.
Experiencing Doves Rest Cabins
As we drove off the paved road, we turned onto a really well-maintained dirt drive—Longhorn Drive—and spotted a small sign for Doves Rest Cabins. We had received all of the directions before we ever left home. There are no big signs, no check-in desk. Instead, we drove slowly down the driveway and past a bigger sign showing two buffalo with the Doves Rest Cabins.
Our cabin was easy to spot, one of five off of Longhorn Drive. We pulled up in front of Chisholm Cabin, one of the smaller cabins at 850 square feet. It was absolutely perfect.
Because we were visiting in the midst of COVID-19, we did go in and do our obligatory wipedown of surfaces with antibacterial. However, I realized that the cabin had been thoroughly cleaned and it felt safe and comfortable from the outset.
I adored the bright kitchen with a dining room table for four, all of which opened onto the living area. There was a full bathroom off the main room, and a small half-bath opened off the bedroom. From the first moment I stepped inside the cabin, it was obvious that the big draw were the two picture windows with sweeping views out over Palo Duro Canyon.
When I exited the cabin's backdoor, the canyon spread out before me. Simply a wow moment I hadn't expected in the Texas Panhandle.
Chisholm Cabin Amenities
I have stayed in a lot of different types of accommodations around the world. I can say that this one really went above and beyond. Because they seemed to anticipate my every need. It was comfortable and I honestly didn't want to leave. For those who love to travel with your furry friends, Chisholm is a pet-friendly cabin. Don't worry if you have allergies—some cabins are designated for no pets.
Chisholm Cabin offered a lovely four-poster bed in the bedroom. We were able to lay in bed and look at the starry sky and awake to the canyon each morning. Big fluffy towels, nice linens, and excellent WiFi topped the charts for me.
The main room boasted a large 70″ TV with satellite and a fireplace. Of course, we were there in June, so we also took advantage of the central AC. It also has central heat for the chilly months. The queen sofa doubles as a sleeper if you bring along the kids.
The kitchen welcomed us with bright tiles, colorful dishes, and great appliances. The fully-stocked kitchen was great, complete with a drip coffee maker, Keurig coffee maker, and hot water kettle. We took our own food with us, but if you prefer, you can use the Doves Rest Cabins concierge service. For the cost of your groceries and a small fee, you can order your food, along with liquor, beer, and wine, up to 48 hours prior to your arrival and they will deliver it to your cabin.
We arrived later in the day on the first day, which happened to be my birthday, so we simply grilled hotdogs on the back patio. The propane grill even had extra propane just in case. I loved the big rocking chairs on the patio. I can still feel frustrated sitting in my office, and simply close my eyes and I'm back there on that patio, slowly rocking, letting the world drift away.
I enjoyed being able to sit outside on the patio each morning with my coffee and yogurt to watch the wildlife.
Our second night, in celebration of my birthday, we grilled steaks outside and found everything in the kitchen easily accessible for preparing a meal.
Other Cabins at Doves Rest Cabins
Doves Rest sits along the canyon's rim, with small groupings of a total of 12 cabins. As I mentioned, along Longhorn Ranch road, there are five cabins including the one where we stayed. I couldn't hear those in any of the other cabins. There are, of course, common areas where I'm sure children enjoy playing. However, on our visit, there were no kids and the other couples I did spot were either walking dogs, enjoying the sunset, or sitting on their porches.
Along Longhorn Ranch, you can rent a cabin starting at $250 per night. Prices do tend to be higher on weekends. The Maverick and Laredo cabins are both 2-bedroom/2-bath cabins. All five of these are pet-friendly cabins. The newest cabin in this area, Laredo, is accessibility friendly.
The cabins along Longhorn Ranch also give you easy access to the stunning Tres Vientos Patio and the Cliffside Garden. Walk down past the cabins to the patio and step right to the rim of the canyon—don't worry, there are railings and it is secure, even for your children and pets.
Tres Vientos is Spanish for three winds. On this beautiful overlook, open on three sides to the canyon, you get a feel for the history of this place.
There are chairs for sitting, benches, and I found it a great spot for meditating at sunset. It's a perfect early-morning yoga locale. It also happens to be a popular spot for weddings.
The next little enclave of cabins offers some of the most impressive views. There are five cabins off of Indian Camp Trail. Four of them are on the rim and one is set back just a bit. They range from $350 to $675 per night and sleep from 4 to 5 people. Three of the cabins—Goodnight Trail, El Coronado, and Skyhouse—have outdoor hot tubs. Goodnight Trail only sleeps two and is the most secluded cabin out of all the Doves Rest Cabins. None of these three cabins is pet friendly, making this ideal if you prefer not to have pets nearby.
Finally, a bit south off of Lighthouse Trail are two more cabins—Fortress and Comanche. These two cabins range from $450 to $525 per night, depending on the season. The Fortress is 1400 square feet with two bedrooms and can accommodate five guests. Comanche is three bedrooms at 1440 square feet, with a capacity for seven guests. Both have private outdoor hot tubs. Comanche is accessibility friendly. Both of these cabins are pet-friendly.
If you want something special, you only have to ask. The Doves Rest concierge service can deliver your groceries, set up an in-cabin massage, book a private chef to cook for you, arrange for flowers, even arrange an airport pickup if you fly into the area.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Of course, the big draw to the area is Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We were tired our first night and, having arrived late in the day, didn't venture out past Doves Rest. But, we discovered that sitting on that back patio was simply amazing. I discovered the area has an intriguing history. If you're interested in reading more about the area, you can find some interesting titles online here.
The canyon is home to an abundance of wildlife, including deer, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, raccoons, turkeys, quail, a host of birds, and the unique Aoudad sheep. I had never heard of the Aoudad Sheep, so was hoping to spot them. They are also known as Barbary Sheep and were introduced into Texas from North Africa.
As we sat rocking, happily breathing in the dry Western air, we had a chance to watch an entire herd of the Aoudad sheep grazing on the far side of the canyon. I took the picture below while sitting on our back patio. And, in true Doves Rest fashion, I was able to use the binoculars in the cabin to watch the herd as it moved along the canyon rim. I realized that, while they look similar to the mountain goats I routinely saw in Colorado, the Aoudad sheep are massive animals.
About Palo Duro Canyon
After a relaxing night, we were definitely eager to get out and explore the canyon. I wasn't really sure, even then, what to expect. Palo Duro is in the middle of the very flat, wind-blown Texas Pandhandle. But the canyon is breathtaking and it is another world once you descend into the canyon.
Palo Duro Canyon is part of the 30,000-acre Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It is the second-largest canyon in the U.S.—behind the Grand Canyon. The canyon runs for 120 miles long and varies from 6 miles wide to 21 miles wide. The elevation is about 3,800 feet above sea level at the cabin-level.
Exploring Palo Duro Canyon State Park
The park entrance was less than 3 miles from our cabin. As is required now because of COVID-19, we went online ahead of time to purchase our day passes to enter the park. I also suggest downloading the park map before you go so you can see the entire route.
Once inside the state park, there are 16 miles of paved roads that take you on a descent of about 800 feet into the canyon bottom. Be sure to stop at the top and look out over the canyon before you descend.
The state park includes hiking trails, biking trails, and equestrian trails. You can find out which ones are allowed on each trail, along with details of the difficulty of each trail, using the trail map available at the gate or by downloading your own trail map before you leave home.
We were there in June, so it was getting hot, but the canyon floor has a variety of trails over different terrain. We chose one that was shady and meandered under the cottonwoods alongside a stream. The park limits the number of visitors so the trails don't get over-crowded. During the week, we were mostly alone on the trails, only meeting one other couple on the walk.
Other Attractions Near Doves Rest Cabins
We were at Doves Rest Cabins to get out into nature, so we did just that. We slept late, fixed a picnic lunch, and hiked in the park. It was great fun to grill on our patio in the evening, gulping in deep breaths of fresh air. However, if you have a desire to get out and do some other activities, there are plenty of opportunities at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
You can go horseback riding on 1500 acres set aside just for equestrians. You can bring your own horse, or book a ride with Old West Stables. Located in the bottom of the canyon inside the state park, Old West Stables can take you on a one-hour public ride, or you can arrange for a private ride. Prices start at about $70.
If you have an adventurous streak, check out Zip Line & Adventure Park. Once you harness up, you take a 15-minute ride to the zipline, walk across a suspension bridge, and then zip across the canyon, at 469 feet above the floor.
I've also been told that I must return next summer for the Texas Outdoor Musical. Although it canceled during Sumer 2020, it is back on schedule for 2021. It runs each summer evening (Tuesday through Sunday), from Memorial Day Weekend until mid-August. The outdoor event, which takes place in the evening, includes music, dance, entertainment, concessions, and Texas BBQ. There are fireworks at night, which you can see off the back patio of your cabin.
When You Visit Doves Rest Cabins
I really did find an unexpected “wow moment” at Doves Rest Cabins. It was so much more than I had imagined. The wide-open spaces and the call of that canyon healed me. It revived a piece of me that needed to get close with nature, yet feel safe. I was able to disconnect from the world around me and relax. I could definitely use a couple more days to rest.
You should visit the Doves Rest website and use the interactive map to figure out which cabin might be best for your visit. They have a great comparison of all the features and keep in mind that no two cabins have the same decorations. Once you've booked your cabin, the management reaches out with everything you need to know for a fun and safe stay in the wide-open Texas Panhandle. You receive your door code ahead of time, and they are great about answering questions. Remember to pack your sunscreen and walking shoes!
Doves Rest Cabins is ideal for a pet-friendly family getaway, a romantic escape for two, or a nice break on a road trip, with plenty of room to roam. Be sure to check out more great Wander content for other things to do when you visit Texas.