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Two stops in quaint Canyon tell story of Texas Panhandle

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In Canyon, Texas, the state’s largest history museum and the country’s second-largest canyon team up to tell the story of the Panhandle region. 


The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, 16 miles south of Amarillo in Canyon, has been called one of the state’s “best-kept secrets;” 10 minutes east of it, the TEXAS Outdoor Musical entertains under the stars each summer in an amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon. 

The museum and musical now work together to tailor full-day itineraries for groups, according to Stephanie Price, marketing and communications director for the Cultural Foundation of the Texas Panhandle. “One call is all that’s required,” she said.

With nearly 3 million artifacts, the museum covers everything from art and archeology to oil rigs and Native peoples. As it tells the story of a harsh land that made life difficult for the people who settled there, it’s not surprising that perseverance is a frequent theme. “The museum is a true reflection of the community,” said Price. “Texans are known for having grit, especially in the Panhandle.”

The musical, on the other hand, mixes the hardships with humor as it explores the lives of settlers in the 1800s.

 “It’s a romantic telling of the history of the Texas Panhandle, so it fits in nicely,” said Price. 

Groups typically spend three to four hours at the museum, with lunch before or after on Canyon’s historic square or catered in and enjoyed in one of the museum’s event spaces.  

Guided tours are always led by curatorial staff and can be customized. “They’ll be led by someone incredibly knowledgeable in that area,” said Price. A women’s tour might focus on women who were leaders in the Panhandle or women artists. History, archeology, cowboys, Native Americans and the oil industry are just a few other possible themes. 

The Texas Outdoor Musical

From June to August yearly, groups can also see the Texas Outdoor Musical. Pre-show add-ons include a backstage tour and a barbecue dinner. The show starts at 8:15, when a rider on horseback carrying a Texas flag dashes along the canyon rim and 60 singers and dancers pour onto the stage. 

Of course, the canyon is worth the short drive at other times of the year. The museum can arrange for a step-on guide to talk about the its geology and history on the drive out, with stops at the visitors center, museum and gift shop and the amphitheater. Groups might stretch their legs on short trails or snap photos. Since vehicles are allowed into Palo Duro, visitors get views from the rim as well as from the canyon floor. 

All in all, a day spent in Canyon is the taste of the West that many groups seek, said Price. “People are looking for a true Western experience, and we give them that here.”


For a tour that includes the museum and the musical, contact: 

Mark Sellers


For museum tours, contact:

Stephanie Price