Hello adventurers! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to check out my article on Caprock Canyons State Park. My name is Lydia Weigel and I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. My love for travel began when I traveled to new cities on internships as part of my fashion design degree in college.
I had the opportunity to live in London, New York and Dallas for a semester at a time. While living and working in these places, I became passionate about exploring as much as I could in the time I was there. That meant going to broadway shows on weeknights in New York, flying across Europe on the weekends in London and finding adventure whenever I could.
After college, I moved to Dallas, Texas for a job. During my first few years in Dallas, I was flying a lot for short weekend trips. However, the pandemic gave me a chance to travel more of Texas by car. This shift has led to some incredible experiences in Texas state parks including Caprock Canyons!
My Experience at Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock Canyons State Park was on my bucket list for a couple years. I started exploring this area with a visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and knew I needed to return when I learned about another beautiful park nearby. I also have a goal of visiting all of the Texas state parks, so I knew that I needed to come. Caprock is five hours from Dallas by car and totally worth the trip. It turned out to be one of my favorite Texas state parks!
I spent two days and one night camping at Caprock Canyons State Park. I backpacked to a primitive campsite for the night and spent the days hiking and viewing the spectacular wildlife that Caprock has to offer. It was so rewarding to be outdoors hiking, camping and taking in the epic nature.
Caprock is unique in Texas for its wildlife. The state park is home to a free roaming herd of bison and a prairie dog town, along with a variety of other animals like wolves and roadrunners. The park is also full of fascinating orange rock canyons that look like they belong in Utah or Arizona.
It has a similar landscape to the more visited Palo Duro Canyon State Park nearby, but felt so much less crowded and more remote. The hiking trails at Caprock are fantastic and offer a variety of landscapes, from caves to viewpoints. This is a must-visit for anyone who is looking for a beautiful off-the-beaten-path park for hiking or just enjoying the outdoors.
Highlight of the Park: Haynes Ridge Overlook
Caprock Canyons was special because it was my first time backpacking out to a campsite for the night. Experiencing this for the first time made me feel empowered and excited for more adventures in the future.
My favorite place in the park was the view from the Haynes Ridge Overlook, where you can see for miles. Gazing off into the distance made me stand in awe of the natural beauty that was surrounding me. I was utterly amazed that this magical place is located practically in my own backyard in Texas.
Best Adventures at Caprock Canyons State Park
The best adventures that travelers should experience in Caprock Canyons State Park include hiking, taking a scenic drive and camping inside of the park. The first trail that all experienced hikers should complete is the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail, combined with the Upper North Prong Trail.
This is a 6.4 mile loop that climbs to stunning views and stops by a fern cave. There are beautiful views throughout, making it my favorite trail at the park. The next trail that shouldn’t be missed is the Eagle Point Trail. This is a 2 mile trail that crosses the canyon. The trail features a unique natural bridge big enough to climb through, right underneath the trail.
The final hiking trail I recommend is the Canyon Rim Trail. It’s a flat 3 mile trail that has views of a small canyon throughout the journey. Besides hiking, visitors should be sure to take the scenic drive through the park. The road is 5.5 miles long with beautiful views surrounding the entire drive.
During the drive, stop at overlooks along the way: the overlooks at the amphitheater and visitor center are especially beautiful. Also be sure not to miss the prairie dog town at the Honey Flat Camping Area and be on the lookout for bison throughout the drive. Finally, I recommend travelers camp within the park to fully experience the peacefulness at night.
Where to Stay at Caprock Canyons State Park
I recommend that people camp inside the park while visiting Caprock Canyons. I backpacked to the North Prong Campsite where you can camp with canyon walls towering above you. There are also several additional campgrounds within the park, including spots for RV hookups or car camping. For those who don’t want to camp, there are a couple of hotels and cabins located in the nearby towns of Quitaque and Turkey.
More Incredible Places to Visit Texas
Right outside the park, there is a 64-mile trailway along a former railroad line. This trail is fantastic for biking. If you take the trail, be sure to visit the Clarity Tunnel where a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats live.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is another awesome park located an hour and a half away from Caprock. While visiting, be sure to hike to the famous Lighthouse Rock, hike up and down the canyon walls and see the famous Texas musical that takes place on summer evenings. Combining Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons makes for a wonderful Texas panhandle road trip. Both of these rock canyons are full of beautiful orange rocks!
Near Palo Duro Canyon State Park, it’s also worth stopping in the small city of Amarillo to drive a piece of Route 66 and spray paint a car at Cadillac Ranch. There is so much to see in Texas and Caprock is just the beginning.
A Scary Moment Encountering Hikers Injured by Bison
While this memory was scary at the time, everyone was okay in the end. The most memorable part of my trip to Caprock was coming across hikers on the Upper North Prong Trail that had encountered a bison and were injured. As I mentioned, bison roam through the park and can be seen.
Luckily, my partner and I were able to provide first aid and waited with them for help to arrive. This incident served as an important reminder that we humans are entering into the home of powerful and magnificent animals, and need to show the utmost respect and caution when visiting. It was a humbling experience and I am grateful that the hikers were alright.
Tips for your Visit to Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock is a remote park so it’s important to be prepared. Visitors should bring plenty of water and pack essentials like first aid kits, flashlights, sunscreen and snacks when hiking. It’s also important to stay safe by keeping at least 50 years from the bison and not provoke them in any way.
As with visiting any natural place, please leave no trace and respect the wildlife and fragile ecosystem that makes this park so precious. As long as you are prepared, Caprock Canyons State Park in Texas is truly an incredible place to explore and to experience rewarding hiking trails, a wide range of amazing wildlife, starry skies and the peacefulness of the great outdoors.