If you’re looking for a camping home where the buffalo roam, look no further than Caprock Canyons State Park. Located in the Texas panhandle, 100 miles southeast of Amarillo, Caprock Canyons is a land of vibrant shale and sandstone cliffs and canyons at the transition between the high, western plains and the sprawling, eastern grasslands. After serving as cattle and ranchland for nearly a century, and a railroad passageway in the mid-1900s, the area was designated as a state park in 1982 to protect the diverse landscape and serve as a wildlife preserve for native bison, pronghorn and white-tailed deer, in addition to almost 200 species of birds.
Whether you favor a developed camp area with plenty of amenities, or a more primitive setting with more seclusion, Caprock Canyons offers seven different campgrounds for parking your RV or pitching your tent. In the southern part of the park, the Honey Flat and Lake Theo campgrounds have 44 sites available; the former provides 30- and 50-amp hookups and shower facilities. In the more rugged western part of the park, the Little Red, South Prong (two locations) and North Prong camp areas offer 80 walk-in and hike-in tent sites. These primitive sites have vault toilets, but no water or trash. The Wild Horse area has 12 sites for equestrian campers. Campsite rates range from $12–$22/night.
With nearly 90 miles of trails inside the park, there is no shortage of wandering options, from casual river walks to strenuous canyon hikes. If that’s not enough, there’s another 64 miles of hiking, biking and riding on the adjacent Caprock Canyons Trailway. This scenic railroad route turned multiuse path crosses numerous bridges and passes through a bat-filled tunnel. Wildlife aficionados can go on the lookout for some of the region’s raptors, songbirds and waterfowl, or observe the resident Texas State Bison Herd. For cooling off in the warm summer season, there’s swimming, fishing and paddling at Lake Theo. You can even take a park tour on an open-air shuttle.
I'd actually like to rate this park a 4.5. It earns a 4 for facilities and a 5 for things to do. Take a trip back in time with a visit to Caprock Canyon State Park. The bison, canyon and red rock formations will remind you of an old western movie. Add in a few prairie dogs for fun. There's lots to do at this park from hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, watching wildlife and exploring old railroad tunnels. The highlight for me was spending an afternoon just watching the bison wander on the open plain. They are such peaceful creatures. We stayed at the South Prong Primitive Campsite #48. There was a fire ring with a grill and a lantern pole. We purchased our own firewood in town and had a nice campfire. We did not have a restroom nearby, but took advantage of the restroom at the ranger station and cafe. We hiked the South Prong trail to the Fern Cave and took the Hayes Ridge Overlook trail back to our campsite. We hiked a little bit of the Eagle Point trail in search of the natural bridge, but were unable to find it. I'll have to go back when I have more time.
I spent a week here in the summer time. It was hot during the day and chilly at night. Many hiking trails and opportunities for nature sightings. Slept in a tent and woke up to buffalo within feet of my tent. They are simply amazing creatures. Take plenty of water and sunscreen.
I went with a couple buddies this past weekend (1/18-1/20) and had an absolute blast. We stayed in the south prong tent campsite (primitive but not hike in). Saturday we hiked the South Prong trailhead and cut across the Haynes Ridge cutout, and it was amazing. It’s a 7 mile loop with an elevation of around 3000 feet. It’s a good 3.5-4.5 hour hike, but the views are amazing. The other fun thing we saw were bison. They roam at this park so they warn you to give way. We only saw one, but it was incredible.
Highly recommend Caprock Canyons State Park if you are considering. As soon as we passed through the entrance gate, we were greeted by a small herd of bison. When we checked in, the ranger notified us that the primitive camping we had reserved did not allow ground camp fires, so we switched over to regular camping at South Prong. She was extremely helpful and gave us her personal favorite site #55 due to its privacy.
The site is indeed very private and allows very easy access to the trail system. We did a 7.5 mile loop in the park, and the next day did a simple day trip over to Palo Duro (entrance fee included in overnight Caprock Canyons pass).
Caprock is a smaller version of palo duro canyon, and very close, without all the “commercial” fanfare. We tent camped here in august, 2018 and had the entire tent campsite lakeside to ourselves. The bathrooms were great, clean, hot water, all good things. The hikes were nice, challenging only due to heat (it was August in Texas so to be expected). There is a nice pier overlooking the lake, we were able to set up our chairs and enjoy a beautiful peaceful evening. The staff was very helpful. This is a Bison ranch, but we didnt see any during our two night stay.
A hidden gem, this park was a real treat! Stop by the visitor's center, there you will pay your entrance fee/camping fees and pick up a map.
Caprock State Park has a sandwich shop, playground, camp sites, bathrooms, look out points and lots of trailheads. Each campsite has a fire pit and plenty of space to spread out and make yourself at home. This is a wonderful place for hiking, camping, primitive camping, r.v. stays, landscape and wildlife photography. Bring water, it does get very hot during the day!
We took the Upper Canyon Trail to Fern Cave and then made our way back on the Canyon Loop Trail. It was a perfect day hike with lots of beautiful views. While the map labels portions of it as extremely rugged and steep, none of it requires technical experience and it is all very well marked. Fern Cave took a little bit of intuitive navigating to get to, as its off the beaten path, but it’s well worth it. I’m an experienced hiker and had a blast.
I’ve camped here by myself for 8 years as a small single female. always felt absolutely safe. the park rangers are really on it. they keep track of everyone on the trail and make sure you’ve got enough water.
some of these trails are particularly difficult in terms of drastic elevation change in a short time. the trails can be a bit tricky to follow and after significant rains parts of the trails can be washed out on the backside of the south prong/canyon rim trail.
I usually camp in the south prong primitive tent camping area. there a “primitive bathroom” which is fine. if you camp up closer to the showers there are a ton more people and children.
best to camp here in the fall and even winter. I try to shoot for day lights savings weekends. then it’s not too hot or cold but it can be brutal in the summer. if you’re prepared for it and you can rent camp during a good storm though, it’s pretty awesome.
dogs welcome. watch out for the buffalo. they are not to be messed with. they will jack you up, especially the pack of single bulls haha for obvious reasons. but give them a wide birth and don’t let your dogs bark at them and you should be ok.
great place to hike, lots of bison and prairie dogs to see and great view while hiking. just be careful on the hikes some rocks are unstable and narrow walk ways.
- Burn Ban in Effect - No firewood or charcoal - Only Propane
- Night sky is awesome
- If you are expecting shade…forget it
- Bison roam free and they are bigger than you
- Horse flies are everywhere and according to my wife they do like gray leggings
- Watch out for critters, large and small
- Watch where you step..land mines (Bison poop is everywhere)
- Fishing at Lake Theo - No license needed
- Really nice park store
- Ranger led Bat Tours in the summer
We went with some friends who also pulled their camper. We picked Sites #22 and #24 because they were connected and the kids could roam between the two sites. The park has a lot of wildlife…in addition to the Bison and the Prairie Dogs we saw Road Runners, Jack Rabbits, Horned Lizards. If you are a first time visitor going hiking in the summer, plan and heed the warnings of the park rangers. The park has very limited cell service (AT&T works better than Verizon) and canyon floor is much warmer than up top. We hiked early in the mornings and the kids were awed by the red rock and the quartz. After sunset it is very comfortable outside and the night sky will leave you breathless. Quitaque is the closest town 3 miles away and has a gas station. Amarillo is a hour away and we went for a day trip taking TX 207 N through Mackenzie Lake. It is a scenic drive. We stopped at the Cadillac Ranch, had lunch at Tyler's BBQ and made a trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park to watch "TEXAS". Next time we pull a camper, I will definitely carry a tent and go primitive for a couple of nights. Also, take a telescope if you own one. You won't regret it.
Caprock Canyons provides an excellent opportunity to see Bison wandering about pretty freely! There are also plenty of prairie dogs to keep you amused. I love the way each campsite is shielded from the others by space and natural trees and scrub.
We only stayed one night, but we are so glad we did! Beautiful canyons, many opportunities to climb, bike and swim.