The dog traveling with us on this trip was "Hunter" our faithful old friend of 11 years This was his last trip. We now have a new faithful friend called "Dolly". She will never take the place of Hunter, but we sure do love her.
We finally got all those vehicles loaded and gassed up and started off on our lengthy drive to the Caprock Canyons State Park in far west Texas. It was after noon when we arrived and since all sites are on a "first come" basis, we were a little nervous about being able to find a good site for the tents. Not to worry! Even though there were a number of people in the park we were able to find two tent sites side by side in the Little Red Tent Camping Area. There are only ten sites in this area, and I think they are the best in the park. The site we really wanted was already taken when we got there, but would you believe by the next evening they had left. So, we just hurried on down to the office and changed our spots and there we were with the best two tent sites in the entire park. They overlooked a beautiful canyon with a shallow river running through it. It was a great place for the kids to meander along the river bed looking for whatever or pretending to be tracking the Commanches. At night we sat on the point in front of the tents laughing and talking and counting the stars. There are so many stars in the Texas sky after the sun goes down! It looks like pave diamonds. Having two sites side by side gave us lots of room for activities such as horseshoes or just kicking back in our big old
canvas chairs and reading or dreaming.
On the way into the park, we had noticed a riding stable advertising trail rides through the park and of course all the kids decided that was what they must do. So, Skip and the older kids went down to check it out and got it all set up for a trail ride the next morning. What fun they had! Now, I'm not into horses and trailriding so I contentedly continued my latest novel. When they returned later in the day all they could talk about was the beautiful scenery and what good horsemen they were. Now, I know for a fact that some of them had never been on a horse, but if they say they are excellent horsemen, I believe them. You know, genes go a long way back and I'm certain we had some really excellent horsemen in our ancestry. Not only can you set up a guided trailride, but if you are the type who travels with a horse trailer behind your pickup, Caprock Canyons has a special camping spot for you....complete with
corral and trails that can be ridden at your leisure. Anyway, the trailride was one of the highlights of the trip for all of the grandchildren. If you go to Caprock Canyons and you're into that sort of thing, then my family has several voices of encouragement. They say, "Do it!"
After the fairly long trailride everyone seemed slightly sore and stiff and ready to just sit around the campfire eating hot dogs and telling tall tales. We sat up until the camp curfew of 10:00 looking at the multitude of stars and telling stories with each person adding their own special version of the story. It was fun and it was great family time. Bed time came, and let me tell you something for which you need to be prepared: the wind! Springtime in west Texas means WIND. Not just a breeze, WIND. Make sure you have plenty of staves and ropes for your tent, make sure they are SECURE, and be ready to spend the night with the wind making strange noises and whistling through your tent. It's not a bad thing, just be ready for it.
Next morning after scrambled eggs, bacon and pork and beans (that's a must for breakfast every day you're camping,) everyone decided they wanted to do some hiking. Again, Skip and I are past the age of serious hiking; however, we do like a leisurely, maybe sometimes brisk stroll. So, it was decided that we would hike down one of the river beds. There were several areas of easy access, and the beds were all dry. This is a smart thing to do if you have small children or you are old like me. It was a great hike. The river beds were smooth with no boulders to climb and no inclines or declines, just straight, easy walking. Now, if there's a storm coming this might not be the trail of choice since these river beds can fill up rather quickly. Heavy rains are not that common in far west Texas, but just be aware. It was awesome to be at the bottom of the river bed and look up at the beautiful red rock formations .
lined with gypsum rising above you. It's a great time for discovery.
If you're really into hiking or mountain biking, Caprock Canyons is a good place to be. The older kids did some heavy duty hiking and related that the trails are beautiful and strenuous.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, there are 13 trails in all including 6 along the trailway. The trailway is an old abandoned railway that was donated by a railroad entrepreneur and turned into a trailway. It is 64 miles long (not necessary to hike it all at once). There are different starting points and destinations. Water is available at some points at the trailheads and developed primitive camping areas. You must carry water with you and use common sense on this trail. It is possible to camp along the trail if you wish, just register with the office. I understand that one of the really neat trails is the Clarity Tunnel trail. Round trip is approximately nine miles. On this trail there is an old abandoned railroad tunnel that is now inhabited by a population of Brazilian Free-tailed bats. They are usually there from April though October. You can contact the park office about good times and instructions before you go. Besides the Trailway, there are a number of trails inside the park that range from very difficult to moderate.
Our week didn't last long enough, but we all decided that it was a wonderful place to be and that we would return. We haven't made it back as of yet, but we will.
SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
There are about 35 very nice, good size, well-manicured sites for camping trailers and RV's. These sites have water and electricity. Tent only sites do not have water or electricty.
Wheelchair accessible restrooms, picnic areas and campsites are available.
The restroom/shower building and a nice playground are convenient to the camping spots.
The restroom is nice and clean and the shower is clean with hot water, but not too much privacy--just a curtain that doesn't close completely. It's almost a certainty that a number of deer will show up around dusk at the play ground area. They're pretty neat to watch. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
There are two developed tent camping areas...The Little Red Tent Camping Area (my favorite), and the South Prong Tent Camping Area. Then there are two primitive camping areas where you need to pack everything in with you. Some people really like this and I'm sure they see beauty that the rest of us don't see.. That's great. I'm just too old. Each of the tent areas has a single chemical toilet (looks like an outhouse). Not too bad actually; however, if you need to take a bath you will have to drive about three miles to the shower. You could walk I guess, but you would need another bath by the time you got back!
Then of course there is the Wild Horse Camping Area that has the equestrian sites. There are about 10 or 11 sites.
If I were you, I wouldn't even consider Caprock Canyons in the summertime. It's hot and the rattlesnakes are out! I'm serious about the rattlesnakes. If you are hiking in the late spring or summertime, I would suggest you wear long jeans and boots, and be careful where you put your hands while climbing. They can be very dangerous. We've not been there in the fall, but I'm sure that it is wonderful starting about mid-October. We were there in March, and I'm thinking March and April are good times to go.
There are a number of animals in the park: Mule and White-tailed deer, Auodad sheep, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats (we saw 2) foxes and opossums. Of course, the state Bison herd is also housed at this park. They have a LARGE acreage just for the Bison at the front of the park. They are not always easily seen, depends upon where they are grazing.
There is also a small lake near the front of the park (Lake Theo) where there is good fishing for bass and catfish.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR. FIND TIME FOR CAPROCK CANYONS STATE PARK.