I spend six days in the Park and on the Trailway, and had a fantastic time. After late to the park, I car camped in Little Red Tent Camping area, which has comfortable, level spots to set up your tent.
Next, I went on a 2 night backpack, parking at Monk's Crossing, and hiking to the Clarity campsite, just before the tunnel. In the morning, I hiked through the tunnel, and on to John Farris Station, and then back to my camp at Clarity. The scenery in Quitaque Canyon is great. And the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has done a good job of placing story boards along the trailway, with interesting tidbits of natural and cultural history that add interest to the outing.
For the next two nights, I camped in the park at North Prong Primitive campsite. From there, I did a day hike up Hayne's Ridge Overlook Trail, and then down the Upper Canyon Trail, and back to my campsite at North Prong. Only complaint about these trails is that a few sections are too steep; they could use a few more switchbacks in some spots to increase safety and prevent the trail from eroding.
The next day, I went back to the trailway, parked at Quitaque Depot, and hiked to Mullin's Rise. This section of the trailway travels along the edge of the town of Quitaque, between large cultivated fields, and through some shelterbelts. After I arrived at Mullin's Rise, a storm came through, and I took refuge in the restroom (not a problem because it didn't smell). At Mullin's Rise, there a nice, level spots on both sides of the "tracks" to set up your tent.
The next day, I hiked back to Quitaque, drove back to the park, and showered off. I made final my camp at Lake Theo, as I wanted to be able to get an early start the next morning. Enjoyed spending part of the evening walking around the campsites and picnic areas on the lake. There was no one else there, which was kind of a pity, as they have expended a lot of effort to make a nice campground and picnic area there.
I rose up before the sun the next morning, broke camp, and stopped at Caprock Cafe in Quitaque for breakfast. Had a nice meal there, at a friendly price. Only complaint is that some of the other clients smoked, which I'm just not used to any more (I live in a city where, mercifully, all restaurants are non-smoking).
A couple thoughts from my experience:
o One challenge at Caprock Canyons State Park (and on the trailway) is the wind; it can make cooking difficult. My stove (an MSR Whisperlite) has a foil windscreen, which was difficult to keep from blowing away. If you have considered trying some of the meals with the self-heating magnesium strips, this could be a good place to use them.
o I had a lot of wind at night at North Prong primative campsite, which blew dust into my tent, despite it being covered with a rainfly. My tent is mostly fabric, with a mesh front door and a mesh vent a few inches above the floor around the perimeter. A four season tent could be a good idea here, so you can close up the vent openings most of the way, to prevent the ingress of dust. Ultralight all-mesh tents would have a real problem here with dust during high winds.
I recommend a trip to Caprock Canyons. I had a wonderful time. The staff were friendly and helpful. The parks and wildlife department has done a good job of providing interpretive information that adds interest to a trip. Pick up a copy of 'A Visitor's Guide to Caprock Canyons Trailway State Park' before hiking on the trailway (it's free at the Visitor Center). The Trailway in particular seems to be little used, but it's a real treasure. Hike it before it gets "discovered".
What was not to like. It was early May. The weather was perfect, full moon, cool nights. Great views. We carried our horses and rode for the weekend. Park personel were very informative. Very much worth the 8 hr drive and highly recommend it to horse people. Great horse camp and trails. Primative camping but anything else would interfer with the setting. We will be returning in the spring of 2010.
This is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. If you go down into the creek beds to hike when you look up at the canyon it is like nothing you can imagine. The different colors striped throughout the walls is amazing. Very well worth going to see. If you get lucky enough to see the bison it will almost bring tears to your eyes that these huge animals are almost all gone. It is truly amazing to see them in their natural element. Makes for really neat pictures. And you must go at a time when you can hear the buffalo hunter give his talk, really cool.
We recently spent one night at Caprock Canyons as we passed through Texas on a 6000+ miles camping roadtrip. We felt so fortunate to be there. The scenery was wonderful,the campsites private and spacious, but the most outstanding thing to me was the DARK. It happened to be on a new moon, plus there's little lighting at the campsites. It's true what the song says, "The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas..." I saw more stars than I have seen in years and saw the Milky Way for the first time in about 40 years! When I look back over our trip which included several National Parks, this park stands out in my memory in a special way.
The trial from "Monk's Crossing" to the "Clarity tunnel" is 4.5 miles of easy walking but personaly it is better taken on mountain bikes as the trail is very flat and straight. there are some very interesting sights to see. It is usually a wonderful place for true solitude, as there aren't many who take the trip. Packing in and camping at the tunnel to veiw the bats is also really nice. Go very prepared for anything as it is VERY remote once you are out on the trail and cell phones rarely work, but it is a wonderful place to get away from IT ALL.
We really enjoyed the 5 days we spent camping at the Caprock Canyons State Park. The hiking trails ranged from basic to moderately challenging and the scenery was beautiful. Tomas took us on a great horseback trail ride through the canyons which I highly recommend. The campsites were nice and we didn't have any problems with varmints (namely raccoons) trying to get into our stuff.
The weather in early March was a little cool at night so make sure your sleeping bags can handle temps that get down into the thirties at nite, and the wind can blow pretty hard in N. West Texas so make sure to take plenty of tent stakes and tie downs. The only downside was the distance (at the Lake Theo campsites) from the parking to the campsites. The reservations said 50 yards and it was more like 300 yards...but one of our neighbors at the campgrounds loaned us a wagon which really helped.
When you drive into Caprock Canyons and the road first starts to descend, you'll feel like you're driving into one of the fabled canyons of the American West. The vistas keep opening up all around you, with fantastical rich red earth tones and vegitation in all different shades of green. The wonder continues when you get out and start hiking into the South Prong. You'll feel like you've left civilization far behind, even though the tiny hamlet of Quitaque is barely 3 miles away. You would never expect to see this kind of scenery in Texas, not even in Palo Duro Canyon or the Trans-Pecos.
Caprock canyon state park is a beautiful place to visit. There is alot of wildlife, including bison. For anyone that has never seen bison in its natrual setting, it is a marvelous view. The fishing is also good.
Caprock State Park is a little hard to find, but once you do find it you will hate to leave. It is a peaceful place to be, you can forget your troubles and enjoy the nature.
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