Historic Route 66 runs right through the heart of this Panhandle city, and the buildings that once housed theaters, roadside cafes, and drugstores are now chock full of shops, diners, and buildings that hark back to the region’s heyday. Amarillo is also the cultural and commercial capital of the Texas Panhandle. From a humble beginning as a staging area for the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad in the 1880s, today it’s a popular getaway and the gateway to the nation’s second largest canyon. Here you can and your dog can get a taste of the Old West at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a Texas-sized wonder that stretches 120 miles.
Dog-Friendly Amarillo Attractions
Amarillo Botanical Gardens. An outgrowth of Amarillo’s first gardening club, the Botanical Gardens are an oasis of natural beauty in the city’s Medical Center Park. Stroll with your (leashed) dog through four acres of gardens include both native and exotic species with special exhibits devoted to butterfly, Japanese, fragrance and xeriscape plantings. Info: 1400 Streit St.; www.amarillobotanicalgardens.org. Fee.
Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Located about 30 miles southeast of Amarillo, this refuge consists of over 7,000 acres of native grassland and marsh areas which are home to a host of wildlife species including deer, prairie dogs, bobcats, coyotes, rabbits and over 300 species of birds. Driving tours of the refuge and hiking trails give visitors a chance to spot wildlife. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park but must not disturb wildlife. Info: US 60 to Umbarger, then RR 168 to the entrance; www.fws.gov. Fee.
Cadillac Ranch Cadillacs and cattle come together in one of the state’s most unusual attractions. A great place for a photo stop with your dog! 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd. Free.
Ellwood Park. This fenced, small dog park is located near Ellwood Senior Park. Info: 1100 S. Jackson St. at Washington; www.amarilloparks.org. Free.
John Stiff Memorial Dog Park. Spanning two acres, this park features some fun play equipment, benches, and drinking fountains (as well as biodegradable poop bags). Info: Southwest 48th & Bell; www.amarilloparks.org. Free.
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. This man-made reservoir on the Canadian River covers 10,000 acres and is a popular boating and fishing destination in the Amarillo area. There are also several camping and picnic areas around the lake and most of these allow leashed dogs. Some of the campsites are improved while others are primitive sites with no amenities. Info: TX 136 to the town of Fritch; www.nps.gov/lamr/. Free.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We still talk about our visit to this amazing destination known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” Palo Duro Canyon winds for 120 miles through the Llano Estacado (“staked plains”) region of the Texas Panhandle south of Amarillo. Eroded for over a million years by a fork of the Red River, the canyon is the second largest in the U.S. and presents some of the most scenic vistas in the Southwest. The 20-mile-wide canyon is 800 feet deep at its deepest point. You and your dog will find plenty of fun among Palo Duro Canyon State Park’s 25,000 acres of rugged landscape with opportunities for driving tours, hiking, camping, picnicking and nature study. Dogs are allowed in the outdoor areas of the park but cannot be in any of the park buildings. Although the park is well-known for its summer outdoor TEXAS musical drama, dogs are not permitted at the production. Info: 11450 Park Rd. 5, Canyon; tpwd.texas.gov. Fee.
Rock Island Rail Trail. Part of a national non-profit initiative, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, this four-mile hike and bike trail follows the path of a former railroad line from near downtown to the west side of Amarillo. Most of the route is asphalt surface and leads through urban areas (with cross traffic) and eventually through more natural areas with some shade and rest stops with picnic tables where you and Fido can take a break. Info: trailhead at Seventh Ave. and Crockett St.; www.traillink.com. Free.
Southeast Dog Park. Especially popular for its small dog section (which includes benches as well as a dog drinking fountain), the large pups have a less-developed area to run and romp as well. Info: S.E. 46th & Osage; www.amarilloparks.org. Free.
Thompson Dog Park. If your dog wants to take a dip on a hot Amarillo day, our dogs give this park a big paws up thanks to its pond (as well as agility equipment and benches). Info: N.E. 24th and Fillmore; www.amarilloparks.org. Free.
Don Harrington Discovery Center. A monument at this science museum recognizes Amarillo’s role as “the helium capital of the world.”
American Quarter Horse Heritage Center and Museum. This interesting museum takes a look at the history of the American Quarter Horse.
Historic Route 66 This formerly famous coast to coast highway is now a favorite with shoppers.
Big Texan Steak House. Amarillo’s most famous restaurant is no doubt the Big Texan Steak House. A tourist attraction as well as a fine steak house, this restaurant offers a free 72-ounce steak to anyone who can eat it in one hour. Along with good ol’ Texas beef, they also serve exotic dishes such as rattlesnake and buffalo. Currently Big Texan is working on a special pet membership to permit dogs and their people to enjoy a beer garden. Located at 7701 I-40 East.
For More Information:
- visit the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council