West Park District

Circle 10 Council

Caprock Canyons

Caprock Canyons State Park is situated about 80 miles southeast of Amarillo. The park is located along the Caprock Escarpment, a long, narrow rocky formation that forms a natural transition between the flat, high plains of the Llano Estacado to the west and the lower Rolling Plains to the east. The down cutting action of the Little Red River has exposed geologic layers in the park down to the Permian age Quartermaster formation, formed approximately 280-250 million years ago. The park’s steep and colorful canyons and bluffs are the breathtaking result of this natural process. It is almost like visiting the Grand Canyon. The park is also home to the Texas State Bison Herd, the largest herd of buffalo in the state park system and the Honey Flat prairie dog town.

 

The park is 309 miles from Dallas (about 5 hours) but it is definitely worth the trip. Best is if you go an a long weekend but even if you drive out and get in Friday evening you can have a great day of hiking on Saturday and still watch the buffalo or prairie dogs on Sunday morning.

 

Caprock Canyons

P.O. Box 204

Quitaque, TX 79255

(806) 455-1492

 

From Quitaque; Farm road 1065 leads three miles north to the park entrance and a small visitor center.

Admission (2014) is $4 per person, while camping is available from $10 to $20 depending on the level of comfort. The South Prong and Little Red Camping Areas are closest to the Upper Canyon Trail entrance, but you need to supply your own water. Camping around Lake Theo is really nice and water and restrooms are nearby but you need to walk into the sites.

 

Link to all the information about campsites, fees, history, biking, and other amenities in the park:

http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/caprock-canyons

 

This site has an excellent description of the hiking trails in the park

http://www.americansouthwest.net/texas/caprock-canyons/state-park.html

 

 

Hiking

 

Hiking is the best way to appreciate the red rock scenery of the Caprock Canyons State Park and the main trails are as follows:

  • Canyon Rim Trail; starting from the Honey Flat campsite and ending at the Wild Horse campsite, this relatively easy 6 mile path follows the rims of several small canyons and encounters badlands, washes and low hills as it crosses the grassy land towards the east of the park, beneath the main escarpment.
  • Eagle Point Trail; a 2 mile path over the badlands between the park road near Lake Theo, and the road shortly before the crossing of the Little Red River. The path is also used by horses and cycles. If you camp at Lake Theo you can use this trail to connect to the Upper Canyon Trail. The natural bridge is along this path and is an amazing sight and easy to miss (hint- stop at bench and go down).
  • Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail; this climbs rather steeply up the cliffs then heads along a grassy ridge, offering excellent views in all directions. At the end it intersects the Upper Canyon Trail. See full trail description.
  • Lower Canyon Trail; a 7 mile circular route that follows the shallow canyons of the lower and upper forks of the Little Red River, starting either at the penultimate spur road along the park scenic drive (north side) or at the Wild Horse camping area.
  • Mesa Trail; a short loop branching off the Canyon Rim Trail which climbs to the top of a low mesa then circles around its edge.
  • Upper Canyon Trail; the best and (in parts) the most strenuous trail in the park, this 6.3 mile route follows a canyon, climbs steeply up to a high ridge, then returns via another canyon. There are 2 primitive camping sites along this trail and if combined with the lower trail makes a good practice hike for the high adventure camps.

See full trail description: http://www.americansouthwest.net/texas/caprock-canyons/hiking.html

 

The Trailway

 

The trailway is adjacent to the main park. Created from an abandoned railroad right of way the 64 mile hiking/cycling/horse riding trail runs from South Plains and Estelline, Texas. There are access points every 5 to 10 miles and 6 overnight campsites along the trail. The best sections are through the caprock escarpment via Quitaque Creek, including the 742 foot Clarity Tunnel which is home to a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats, and east of Tampico, where the trailway crosses an area of canyons and mesas.

 

Horse Rentals

 

Rentals are available through Quitaque Riding Stables, (806) 455-1208.

Reservations should be made at least one day in advance.

Group discount rates available.

http://quitaqueridingstables.com/home

Contact the Webmaster at activities@westparkdistrict.org