We had a great time on our quick little getaway this weekend in the RV to Caprock Canyons State Park. After delaying our weekend away three times, it was extra special for us to finally get away for a couple of days. Despite the horrible dust storm on Thursday evening that delayed us leaving until Friday morning, thankfully, the weather was beautiful the entire weekend.
Before going any further, I would like to encourage you to watch this wonderful six-minute video. I truly hope you will watch it, as it is so special to me for many reasons, and it will save me time in sharing some of the information that is so beautifully presented in the video. You will see some gorgeous photos and videos that accurately depict a typical visit to the Caprock Canyons State Park, as well as a bit of interesting history, too. The photographer is Wyman Meinzer, the Texas State Photographer.
One of the main reasons for this trip, along with needing to get away for a little sanity and exercise break, was to see how Little Red would do on his first camping trip in the RV. He did just great, and he basically did what Girly Girl did the whole trip. If she slept, he slept. If she ate, he ate. If she looked out the window above the sofa, he looked out the window. And best of all, when she crashed for the night, so did he. We didn’t hear a peep out of him overnight, which was a nice surprise, for sure. He is slowly learning to walk a bit better on the leash, but he is still very much a happy, energetic puppy and very curious about every new thing he encounters.
Caprock Canyons was the perfect place for us to take Little Red on his first trip. We are very familiar with the park and good sites to park the RV for a little more privacy for us, since we really did not know how he would react. He was a good boy and seldom barked at anything, except Girly Girl and us when we played with him.
Happily, the “official park greeter” was out to welcome us on this trip, and he was a big ol’ boy indeed! The Southern Plains Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park is designated as the official bison herd of the state of Texas, and they have a historic and unique bloodline that was saved by the wife of Charles Goodnight, Mary Ann, who actually saved this herd from a likely extinction from hunters.
Since visitors are to always maintain a distance of at least fifty feet from one of these magnificent animals, I should probably explain that he was actually behind a big steel fence when I took this photo. Otherwise, there is no way this ol’ gal would even consider getting so close to this guy who could run me down in a heartbeat if he wanted to do so. In many areas of the park, however, including the main entrance area and the Lake Theo area, you can easily have a close encounter with a bison, including many in the herd when the feed truck comes around. In fact, some of the tent sites around the lake are easily accessed by the herd. However, they cannot gain access to the RV campground at this time.
I think we saw more of the herd on this trip than on any other previous trip to the park, and it is always exciting for me to see them, especially when we can see a couple of little calves like we saw on this trip. No, I did not have a camera with me at the time, and I am so sad that I missed that great photo op. Trust me, those little bison were cute, cute, cute, and if you watched the video above, you saw some calves that we saw a couple of years ago on a visit to the park. On Friday evening, just before sunset, I think most of the herd (probably about thirty or forty animals) actually blocked traffic on the road for a while near Lake Theo. No one was upset either, as we all got to watch them coming in to grab a drink of water before settling down for the night. It was magnificent to see.
We spent quite a bit of time riding our new Diamondback hybrid bicycles and ended up riding about 20 miles in all during the weekend. On Saturday morning, we actually rode out of the park to the nearby tiny town of Quitaque and back, making that round trip a total of ten miles from our campsite. I felt great the entire time and could have done it all over again, especially since the road is level most of the way.
We also checked out a couple of the “rail to trail” areas for the first time, as we are hoping to actually ride part of the trail next month for the first time with some friends, depending on the weather. This section at the Quitaque Depot, which is actually in town, seems to be pretty inviting at first glance. However, as I took my bike for a quick ride on the trail ahead, we discovered that it is pretty rough going for our hybrid bikes. I think this section would require a trail bike for that reason. Fortunately, the section about five miles ahead at the Clarity Tunnel Depot (no picture) looks to be much smoother and should work well with our hybrids. That section will be a ten-mile round trip to the bat tunnel and back, and it should be a lot of fun to ride.
I never, ever grow tired of the beautiful views and amazing sunsets at this park, and I feel blessed that it is within a reasonable drive for us to visit pretty often for a quick getaway. The view above is within an easy walk of the RV campground, just next to the amphitheater which sits on the canyon rim and overlooks the main part of the state park canyons ahead. RV’s are not permitted down in the canyon, unlike Palo Duro Canyon State Park, so we just take the motorcycle for a couple of rides each day into the canyon to view the scenery and do a little hiking. It is a fabulous ride on the motorcycle, but perhaps not for the faint of heart, as there are several very steep hills to be traversed each direction. We think nothing of them now after driving them for a couple of years, but I will admit that I held my breath the first few times, too.
Sadly for us, we discovered that the state park folks cleared an entire area of all the trees and brush near the RV campground over the winter months, which also happened to border the east side of one of our favorite walking and biking trails along the canyon rim. Now, instead of a nice, sheltered trail for most of the way, it is a wide open area. Because we live in an area where trees are few and far between, this was honestly a big disappointment for us, at least right now. They are attempting to restore native buffalo grass in that huge meadow, and I’m sure it will be nice if they are able to get it to grow and thrive again. I also know that quite a number of the mesquite trees had died due to the drought of the past few years and were likely a fire hazard. So while I understand why they did it, I will always miss that sheltered trail. The wind is pretty much a constant anywhere in this part of the state, and it is always nice to find an area where you get a little break from it.
I have many pictures and stories of this beautiful, remote, unique and often overlooked state park, and over time, I will share more about it and the historic South Plains Bison Herd that now call it home. It almost feels a bit like a “home away from home” for me now.