Palo Duro Canyon State Park is one most Texan’s know about. But have you ever heard of Caprock Canyon State Park? Its almost like Palo Duro’s little brother. And it is such a cool park to visit!!!!
It has been years since I visited but I wanted to write about it because it is one of my favorite state parks and I don’t think it gets enough attention.
I went in March and the weather was perfect. Very Goldilocks style. Not too hot during the day and not too cold at night. We got in very late on a Friday night, which made for the perfect morning. I had never been out that way so I had zero expectations about what views I would awaken to. I was blown away. I unzipped the tent and just had the most amazing view like nothing I had ever seen in Texas. Our campsite was at the bottom of the canyon and we were surrounded by towering red rock all around. The sun had was hitting it just right and made the canyon walls just glow. I was so pumped to explore the rest of the park!
I believe we stayed at the South Prong tent camping area. Forgive me because it has been over 5 years so I may not remember the exact details. Guess that means I should go back….! Anyway, this camping area was at the bottom of the canyon and was really nice and secluded. No running water and vaulted toilet, so definitely for true campers. The campsites were tucked away into their own area surrounded by vegetation, which really gave each site a secluded feel. Although people camped all around us, you couldn’t see or here anyone and could only tell they were there because of the glow from their campfire. I really enjoyed this campsite because of the canyon walls surrounding it!
Our time was short and sweet there, but we did hike the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail to the overlook itself. For that trail you start on the North Prong Spur Trail and you’ll look for the signs for the Haynes Ridge trail on your right. The map says, ‘extremely steep and rugged’. Fact. Yes. Correct. It certainly was. It was so fun though!!! It was just short of actually needing gear to climb and was the steepest trail I had ever come across. So much fun though, trying to scramble all over the trail. I remember having to use hands and feet to get to the top. But we made it!!! Felt so accomplished and the views just added the extra bonus! I HIGHLY recommend that if you have the ability to do a challenging and strenuous trail, let’s all remember you do have to come back down too, that you choose this one. I distinctly remember running into this poor fellow with a giant pack on his back as we were coming back down and at the one of the flatter parts of the trail. Poor thing was dripping in sweat and looked like he might pass out. He asked which so much hope in his eyes ‘does it get steeper? Is it much further?’. I broke his tired little heart. Yep, much steeper and you are basically at the bottom dude. I still wonder if he made it…
I really don’t remember how far of a hike we did. We scrambled to the top for the view and then came back down, walked a bit up the North Prong trail before turning around and heading back. There are miles and miles of trails out there and some can really take you far back into the park, but we didn’t have the gear or time for it unfortunately. We spent most of the afternoon out there though. Bring lots of water! It does get quite warm out there and there is little to no shade to take a break in. So, pack your water, sunscreen, hat, and some snacks!
Now I know seeing wildlife is never guaranteed, disclaimer there, but I saw probably the most wildlife I have ever seen in one weekend at that park. There were turkeys just gobblin it up all over, and if you know me you know I love turkeys. There were bison just hanging out in the middle of the road. Prairie dogs, or sod poodles as some would call them, scurrying around. I could literally watch them for hours if anyone let me. So very cute.
Between the views, the fun hike and all the wildlife, I still consider it one of the best trips I have experienced to a state park. It is about 4 ½ hours from DFW and it is so worth the drive out there. I recommend, if you can, making it a three-day weekend to explore more of the park than I had a chance for. If you want an adventure in a not so typical Texas setting, check this place out!