Amarillo offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, in the form of in-city golf courses, pools, and parks, as well as several lakes, reservoirs, and state parks in the surrounding area. The best recreation spot is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, about 27 miles southeast of the city.
The Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (tel. 806/857-3151; www.nps.gov/lamr), located 38 miles northeast of Amarillo via Tex. 136, is another outdoor hot spot, featuring opportunities for boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, camping, hiking, swimming, scuba diving, wildlife and bird viewing, and four-wheeling. The site is also home to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument (www.nps.gov/alfl), the point of origin for a significant percentage of arrowhead points and flint tools found throughout the Great Plains. While the monument is closed to most recreational activity, guided tours are offered at 10am and 2pm during the summer and at other times of the year by reservation. Aside from boat-launching fees, access to Lake Meredith is free to the public.
Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, 2301 N. Soncy Rd. (tel. 806/352-6007; www.wildcatbluff.org), is the best spot for hiking and wildlife viewing in the city itself, offering over 2 miles of moderate trails on its 600 acres of cottonwood-shaded hills. The center's wildlife population includes mule deer, horned toads, coyotes, and turkey vultures. Admission is $3 adults and $2 for kids and seniors.
The major city parks in Amarillo include Thompson Memorial Park, at Dumas Drive and 24th Avenue, home to Wonderland Amusement Park and the Amarillo Zoo, as well as a 36-hole golf course, 1 mile of jogging/walking trails, a heated outdoor pool (open seasonally), ball fields, picnic sites with grills, and fishing ponds; John S. Stiff Memorial Park, at SW 48th Avenue and Bell Street, with ball fields, three indoor and eight outdoor tennis courts, an outdoor heated pool, and picnic sites; and Southeast Regional Park, at SE 46th Avenue and Osage Street, with an outdoor heated pool, ball fields, fishing ponds, and picnic areas. For more information on Amarillo's city parks, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at tel. 806/378-3036 or visit www.amarilloparks.org.
Boating -- Lake Meredith National Recreation Area is the Panhandle's top watersports destination. When full, the main lake occupies 12,000 of the area's 46,000 acres and draws in boaters, windsurfers, water-skiers, and even scuba divers. Boat rentals (from personal watercraft to houseboats) are available from Forever Resorts (tel. 806/865-3391; www.marinaatlakemeredith.com) at the marina at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. To launch a boat of any size into Lake Meredith, a $4 day-use fee is required ($10 for 3 days).
Fishing -- Catfish and bass are the fish of choice for anglers in the Texas Panhandle, and several spots in and around Amarillo are quite popular. For no fee outside of the cost of a Texas state fishing license, visitors can fish in several ponds in Amarillo's city park system, including Thompson Memorial Park at Dumas Drive and 24th Avenue, Martin Road Park at NE 15th Avenue and Mirror Street, Southeast Regional Park at SE 46th Avenue and Osage Street, and Harrington Regional Medical Center Park at SW 9th Avenue and Wallace Street. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area is another popular fishing spot for the Panhandle. At the lake's marina (tel. 806/865-3391; www.marinaatlakemeredith.com), patrons find basic fishing supplies, concessions, and a heated and cooled fishing house ($4 for 12 hr.). Fishing licenses can be obtained at local Wal-Marts and sporting-good stores, including Big 5 Sporting Goods, 8004 I-40 W. (tel. 806/356-8115).
Golf -- The City of Amarillo Parks and Recreation Department manages four golf courses: two at Comanche Trail, 4200 S. Grand St. (tel. 806/378-4281; www.comanchetrail.com), with greens fees for 18 holes of $11 to $15; and two at Ross Rogers Golf Course, 722 NE 24th Ave. in Thompson Memorial Park (tel. 806/378-3086), with greens fees of $15 to $21. At both courses, carts are $24 for 18 holes.
Hiking -- Aside from the hiking opportunities at Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, there are two hiking trails at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. The Devil's Canyon Trail is a moderate one-way trail that leaves from Plum Creek on the north side of the lake and continues into the canyon for 1.5 miles. In city limits, the Rock Island Rail Trail runs from Coulter Street on the west side to 7th and Crockett streets near downtown, 4 miles of jogging/biking/walking terrain in all. Numerous foot trails also traverse Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Horseback Riding -- There are several horse-friendly trails in Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, in McBride Canyon and alongside Plum Creek on the lake's north side. The National Park Service provides corrals at the Plum Creek and Mullinaw campgrounds, but riders need to bring their own horses. Palo Duro Canyon State Park also has horse trails and stables.
Mountain Biking -- The closest mountain biking trails to Amarillo are 27 miles away in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The 3-mile Devil's Canyon Trail at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area is also accessible to mountain bikers.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.