From my description of Caprock Canyons State Park in the last entry you
can already guess at some of the things visitors can do there, from relatively
sedentary sightseeing, wildlife viewing, fishing, boating, and nature
photography to more active hiking, running, mountain biking, and horseback
The park is a great place to take kids camping and to learn about the
geological and cultural history of the area, too.
In this entry I'll describe the park's facilities, including
campgrounds and day-use areas, popular activities, and fees. You
can find lots more information at various links on the park's
Here's the park
The park entrance is at the southern border of the park (bottom
center on map above) off Farm Road 1065 through the little town
of Quitaque, Texas.
PARK HQ AND VISITOR CENTER
The attractive park headquarters/visitor center is about half a
mile from the entrance. It was recently built at a cost of about
$1 million and contains many informative exhibits:
To the left in that picture is a large covered shelter/meeting
A walkway leads to the bison viewing area a short distance
away. The covered overlook has information about the Texas State
Bison herd and telescopes to view the critters down in the
About a quarter mile beyond the visitor center is the fist of
several covered waysides with interpretive exhibits and benches.
The park does a great job of educating visitors in a fun and
WAYSIDE (ONE OF SEVERAL)
At this wayside there's a metal cut-out of a mama bison heading
toward the road and a baby bison running away on the other side:
Park staff has mounted a bunch of these metal bison throughout
the park; it's fun to find them. One grouping is far
enough from the road that it almost looks real!
NATURE CENTER / CHILDREN'S DISCOVERY CENTER
Just past this exhibit is the Children's Discovery and
Nature Center, which is housed in a small building that wasn't
open while we were there:
Like other Texas state parks, Caprock Canyons has periodic ranger talks
but the only ones we saw posted were on Saturdays, not
the week days we were there.
The next landmark along the park road is Lake Theo, an inviting
place to fish, boat, and swim:
On one side of the lake is a parking area, fishing piers, several covered
lodge (?), and Folsom Historical Site.
Neither of us went back to the lodge or historical site but in
retrospect I wish I had. They are back a dirt road that just
didn't look like it was "public." Even though there were no
signs at the entrance and they are both still printed on the
park maps, I turned
around because the building looks like someone's residence. The lodge
isn't mentioned on the park website
fee page so I'm guessing it
isn't used for overnight lodging any more.
didn't realize the historical site was even back there until I
was writing this entry!
Another road on the other side of the lake leads to a children's
playground, several shaded picnic tables, some covered picnic
pavilions, and a larger group picnic shelter that can be
reserved. The fee page mentions campsites for $14/night with no
hook-ups in this area but I didn't see them.
INTERPRETIVE CENTER & AMPHITHEATER
Another half mile along the park road is the interpretive
center. This is where the largest concentration of metal bison
cut-outs is located:
It's also the site of the archeological replica of ancient bison bones
that I showed in the last entry.
open-ended building is plenty of room for folks to enjoy the
exhibits, get out of the hot sun, or have a group meeting:
There are also expansive views of the canyons from the building
and the small open-air amphitheater behind it:
Amphitheater with a view
More of the *metal* bison herd
HONEY FLAT CAMPING AREA
Next is the Honey Flat Campground area, which accommodates up to
thirty-five RVs. (On the map the name is misspelled as "Honea"
Flat.) The campground sits at about 2,500 feet in elevation.
This is a pretty campground with spacious, flat sites and lots
of mesquite trees and other vegetation:
Sites 1-25 have water and 30-amp electrical service for
$15/night. We reserved one of those because we didn't think we'd
need 50-amp service this week.
When we checked in on Sunday the ranger offered us the empty
campground host site with a sewer hook-up but we found it taken
when we drove out to the campground. Those folks stayed on while
we were there, so we picked another site that suited us fine
for three nights:
We enjoyed the large, grassy site and covered picnic area.
Sites 26-35 have 50-amp service and cost $20/night. There were
only a couple RVs in those, while the 30-amp sites were about
one-third filled this week. There is a dump station just before
the campground entrance and a centrally-located rest room with
YOU SILLY BIRD!
A bonus at our site was the entertainment that wildlife
One morning I could hear grunting in the woods behind the camper
but never did see the source. It sounded like wild pigs. I could
also hear coyotes late in the afternoons and saw several mule
deer wander past.
One afternoon I was alone in the camper when I could hear a
strange banging noise in the middle of the camper. It wasn't the
vent cover in the kitchen or bathroom blowing in the wind but it
was a rather steady, periodic THUMP. I finally saw the source of
the noise: a bright red cardinal was repeatedly flying
into the hallway window!
Here he comes again!
Next he began perching in one of the trees just outside the
windows from my computer desk, only about three feet away. He also
repeatedly flew into the windows on that side and back of the
camper. Dumb bird!
Don't look at ME like that, you silly bird.
It's hard to see inside the windows from the outside
during the day, so I think he must have seen his reflection and
was defending "his" territory from the interloping birds he saw
in the windows!
I nominate him for this week's Darwin Award.
ON DOWN THE PARK ROAD . . .
The first couple miles of the five-mile long park road
the canyon rim through High Plains prairie land with views down
into the canyons from
several vantage points:
A little past Honey Flat Campground the road takes it first
serious dive, a 10% grade descending to the equestrian
campground AKA Wild Horse Camping Area. I didn't nose around back there and don't have any
pictures of it. There is water for horses and people but no
utility hook-ups. There is also a group picnic pavilion that can be
rented. Check the
fee page for costs and
amenities in this campground.
Equestrians may either bring their own horses into the park for
the day or overnight, or rent horses at a nearby stable or
within the park ("seasonal concession"). Several
trails within the park and the entire 64-mile Trailway are open
Just past the equestrian campground is a scenic overlook with a
covered pavilion (below) that offers more information about the
geological history of the park.
This overlook is in an area where rangers did a controlled burn
fairly recently but it is not ugly or smelly . . .
. . . and there are some more great views into the canyon
Then the road takes a real dive with a 16% dip down to a
tributary of the Little Red River and a 16% rise back up the
other side. I took this picture at the top of the hill when Jim
was driving but you can't see down to the bottom:
You do not want to take a horse trailer or long RV
there! It's simply too steep. As much as I love to bomb down
hills with my road bike, I was hesitant to ride it there. Nor
would I be able to pedal back up the other side.
Near the top of the rise is another good panoramic overlook:
TENT CAMPING AREAS & BACKCOUNTRY TRAILHEADS
The park road continues on for another couple of miles past the
Little Red Tent Camping Area (10 tent sites), a large parking
area for the trailhead to several backcountry trails and the
North Prong Primitive Camping Area, and dead ends at another
large parking area for the South Prong Tent Camping Area (20
sites), South Prong Primitive Camping Area, and trailhead for
one end of the Upper Canyon Trail.
Overnight visitors can drive to the two tent camping areas and
park fairly near their campsites. The sites cost $12/night.
Chemical toilets are available. I don't know about water.
The two primitive camping areas
may each be reserved by up to four backpackers. Each site is about a mile into either end
of the canyon loop trail. They also have chemical toilets and
cost $8/night. Backpackers may also camp along the Trailway.
The large parking area at the end of the park road has yet
another nice covered pavilion with interpretive signs and great
views of the canyons in that area:
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME AT CAPROCK
To summarize, more sedentary activities at Caprock include:
- scenic drives through the park
- guided tours
- watching bison from the bison overlook
- nature/wildlife photography
- browsing interpretive exhibits at roadside pavilions and the
visitor center, interpretive center, and nature center
More active pursuits include:
- mountain biking
- horseback riding
- watching the bats at Clarity Tunnel on the Trailway (requires
getting there on foot, two wheels, or a horse)
Next entry: the trails at Caprock Canyons, including the
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil