Information on:

Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

850 Caprock Canyon Park Road
806-455-1492

Caprock Canyons State Park, 100 miles southeast of Amarillo in Briscoe County, was opened in 1982. It consists of 15,313.6 acres (including the Trailway, a 64.25-mile Rail-to-Trail conversion, acquired by donation in 1992 from a railroad entrepreneur). This acquisition added recreational adventure, stretching from the western terminus at South Plains up on top of the caprock escarpment to the eastern terminus of Estelline in the Red River Valley. This multiuse trail (hike, bike, and equestrian), opened in 1993, stretches the park through Floyd, Briscoe, and Hall counties crossing 46 bridges and running through Clarity Tunnel, one of the last active railroad tunnels in Texas. The 64.25 miles of the Trailway are open to the public from Estelline to South Plains.

The escarpment's scenic canyons were home for Indians of several cultures, including the Folsom culture of more than 10,000 years ago. A decrease or disappearance of some species, from Folsom times to present, indicates a gradual drying and perhaps warming of the climate. Later paleolithic hunters, associated with the Plainview culture, also occupied the area from 8,000 to 9,000 years ago. Only slight traces of these people have been found at Caprock Canyons. As the climate became increasingly drier, the period of hunting and gathering cultures began. Smaller animals, as well as plant materials, made up the diet of the people. The Archaic period lasted from 8,000 to 2,000 years ago. Artifacts from this period include boiling pebbles for heating food, grinding stones for processing seeds, oval knives, and corner-notched or indented dart points. The Neo-Indian state was characterized by the appearance of arrow points and pottery. During the latter part of this period, 800 years ago until the Spanish exploration, permanent settlements were established, and agriculture was being practiced to some extent. These people traded Alibates flint for pottery, turquoise, and obsidian from the Puebloan groups to the west.

The region's historic era began when Spanish explorer Coronado traveled across the plains in 1541. After Spanish colonies were established in New Mexico around 1600, two-way trade between Plains Indians and New Mexicans began and gradually increased. The Plains Apache, present when Coronado arrived, acquired horses and became proficient buffalo hunters. They were displaced by the Comanche, who arrived in the early 1700s and dominated northwestern Texas, until they were finally subdued in the 1870s. During the Comanche reign, trade prospered and New Mexican buffalo hunters, known as ciboleros, and traders, known as Comancheros, were frequent visitors to this area. Las Lenguas Creek, a few miles south of the park, was a major trade area, and a site excavated on Quitaque Creek has produced artifacts indicating that it may have been a cibolero camp.

After 1874, Anglo settlement began, counties were organized, and ranches were established. Famed cattleman Charles Goodnight moved cattle into Palo Duro Canyon in 1876. In 1882, he bought vast areas of land for John G. Adair, who became owner of the noted J. A. Ranch. The land on which the park is located was included in the purchase. A railroad was built into this area in 1887, and by 1890, the town of Quitaque, with a population of 30, was a regular stage stop. The use of suitable lands for farming increased as more settlers arrived in the early 1900s, but most of the broken country is still ranch land. After passing through the hands of several owners, most of the land that now lies within park boundaries was acquired in 1936 by Theo Geisler, who died on August 15, 1969. The state purchased the land in 1975, and the park's Lake Theo was named after Geisler.



Reviews

Gail Bianco

Rating:
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Loved this park! Buffalo and prairie dogs are everywhere. The sights are remarkable. The sunsets were spectacular. Most sites have some shade, but they also have nice little backyards with a sheltered picnic table. Good biking tho I got a flat running over a spike from a tree. I saw a tarantula. And buffalo. . .. everywhere including our campsite.

Mike Gardner

Rating:
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Camped the night there and had multiple encounters with the local buffalo herd including the first steps of a calf. Had an old bull come through the campsites. The buffalo are NOT tame,just used to people. A must visit for camping whether tent (me) or RV. Even have area for horses. New little sandwich shop and mini store for typical camping food and stuff like propane bottles, even fishing poles and worms

Kody

Rating:
Monday, July 9, 2018
Camped here 4 nights, overall a great experience! The Buffalo were definitely the highlight of the trip, with multiple encounters, including 30+ head coming right through our campsite and hanging out in the prairie dog town all day. We enjoyed taking our kayak and fishing on the lake, and even got to have some rainy cool weather during our stay. There was a staff member in the visitor’s center that was rather rude, and seemed annoyed and put out to be doing her job during a trip up there for ice and some other things. The grass burrs around the buildings were a nuisance, and there were areas with quite a bit of trash that needed cleaned up around the park. Overall a great trip, will come back. Pros: Buffalo, the views, level paved rv sites Cons: Rude staff member, trash, stickers

Elizabeth Quate

Rating:
Monday, June 25, 2018
Very fun experience with my family! I would suggest starting early and get out of there before 2pm during the summer months, and also no matter what, plan on 1 gallon of water per person, we came across a family that didn’t take water at all.... it is super dangerous and not smart.

Jennifer Medaris

Rating:
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
We rented the cabin for the weekend for a family event. Would be nice if it had a 2nd bathroom, but was decent enough. Can't say the mattresses are comfortable. A few of us got ticks. My youngest, the explorer got a total of 5 and after we got home developed symptoms of Lyme disease. Had to take him to the Dr to get antibiotics. Definitely protect yourself well with insect repellent and pants for hiking, so hopefully you won't have to deal with ticks. Overall, a wonderful park. We all had a lot of fun!

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