Texas is one of those states that is widely unrecognized for its abundance of stunning red rock canyons. In fact, the 2nd largest canyon in the United States, affectionately referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Texas” is located at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. But what the locals know, and don’t want to tell you, is that there is a just as impressive little sibling at nearby Caprock Canyons State Park. Caprock Canyons is a humble state park with amazing hiking that traverses canyon rims, canyon floors, and breathtaking plateaus and panoramas. There are few places in Texas that are more impressive and exciting to visit, and this local state park will become one of your favorites as soon as you’ve experienced it! Get ready to fall in love with the best of Caprock Canyon State Park hiking and camping!
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The Best of Caprock Canyons State Park Hiking and Camping
Get to know what makes this state park so special, and why the locals love it so much!
Know Before You Go
Before heading out to Caprock Canyon, familiarize yourself with a few of the park basics.
Hours: Open daily from 8am – 10pm
Entrance Fees: $5 per person (13 years and older)
Camping Fees: $10-$22 per night per site
Alternative Lodging: There is the Lake Theo Lodge available
Can I Reserve Day Passes and Campsites Online? Yes you can on the Texas State Parks website
Caprock Canyons Weather: Between late spring and early fall, expect a very HOT, DRY climate at Caprock Canyons State Park. Winter can also be harsh, with cold, gusty winds and seasonal snow and ice storms that move through the west Texas plains. Early spring and late fall are the best times to visit Caprock Canyons State Park.
Dogs Permitted? Yes
Recommended Gear for Caprock Canyon Trails: this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but here’s a few basics to start with!
- Trail Runners – like these ultra cushioned HOKA One One Speedgoats with superb grip and traction.
- Gaiters – gaiters like these Salomons will help keep the loose sand, dirt, and gravel out of your shoes.
- Trekking Poles – not mandatory, but there are some steep portions of some of the Caprock Canyon trails, and a pair of trekking poles can help with this! My go to are these Black Diamond trekking poles, which have carried me up and down countless mountain ascents and descents, including almost all 50 of the U.S. state high points!
- Water Hydration System – you have options, just make sure that you bring plenty of water (at least 3 liters in the summer) for Caprock Canyon trails. Here’s a few of my recommendations: a Camelbak running hydration vest with bladder, a Platypus 3 liter water hydration bladder in a daypack, or a running waistbelt with water bottles (only for very short hikes).
- Sweat Proof Sunscreen
- Hat or Visor
Location of Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock Canyons State Park is located in the Panhandle of West Texas, near the small Texas town of Canyon. Other larger towns in the vicinity include Amarillo, Plainview, and Lubbock.
Caprock Canyons State Park and surrounding area
Caprock Canyons State Park Hiking
Caprock Canyon State Park is an outdoor adventurist’s dream! Hiking here is an adventure that can take you meandering along canyon floors, following gentle streams of water, and gazing up at red rock walls piercing the blue west Texas sky. Or hikes that run parallel to the canyon rims, with views looking down over the whole park. Trails with challenging uphill climbs, trails dotted with intriguing gypsum deposits, trails over natural rock bridges, and trails to secret hidden caves! Here are a few of the must hike trails to take on when visiting Caprock Canyons State Park!
The Eagle Point Trail is a local favorite! It is shorter, at only 2 miles roundtrip, and contains some of the most impressive natural landscape in the park. The highlight of this trail is the Natural Bridge, and the secret cave hiding underneath the bridge that can be explored!
For other moderate, shorter trails, check out the Canyon Rim Trail. The highlight of this trail is given away in the name! This 3 mile long trail traverses along the canyon rim, showing off some impressive aerial views!
Want to check out some of the views from inside the canyon? Lower South Prong Trail is a 2.2 mile trail that follows a creek bed with impressive gypsum deposits.
For more challenging hikes, take on the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail. This 2.3 mile roundtrip trail takes you to the highest point in the park, so naturally there are heart pounding uphills involved. But the payoff is worth it from the top, and is the reason this is one of the park favorites!
Or check out Upper North Prong Trail. This challenging 2 mile trail includes intriguing “hoodoo” formations, as well as the secret “Fern Cave”, with its dripping fern adorned walls and gentle spring.
The nice thing about all of these trails is that many of them can be combined to form longer hikes! You can easily spend a day exploring in Caprock Canyons State Park with the almost 100 miles total of trails! AllTrails is a great app to use to see how all the trails connect to each other, or check out this park trail map here.
Caprock Canyons State Park Camping
Rugged Caprock Canyons State Park camping comes with some of the best dark night skies in Texas, peace and solitude, and the occasional passing by of a resident member of the local bison herd! There are multiple campgrounds at Caprock Canyons State Park, each highlighting different characteristics of this park.
There is one developed campground with water and electric hookups: the Honey Flats Campground. There is one campground with water hookup at the Lake Theo Campground. And there are primitive, tent camping only, walk in campsites at the Little Red Camping Area, and at the South Prong Camping Area. There are also hike in campsites available. The North Prong and South Prong Camping Areas have one mile long hike in sites. Primitive camping is also available along the Trailway with a 7 mile minimum hike in! For a complete list of sites and to make a camping reservation visit the park website here!
Other Outdoor Opportunities at Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock is known for its canyons, but it is also a haven for native wildlife, photographers, bikers, horseback riding, and fishing. Visitors can fish or swim at Caprock’s own Lake Theo. Mountain biking is splendid on the nearly 90 miles of trails that can be found in the park. It is even possible to access the long distance Caprock Canyons Trailway from the park, for bikers, equestrians, and hikers. This epic path spans over 3 Texas counties!
Local bison, prairie dogs, and bats are a few favorites of the native wildlife, and there are even Ranger programs focused on wildlife education at Caprock Canyons State Park. Don’t miss the Honey Flats Prairie Dog Town at the entrance to the park! These amusing critters are fun for adults and children alike!
Caprock Canyons State Park may not be a huge name yet in the world of famous canyons, but if you come here, it will grow on you to become a favorite! Texas may not be known for its canyons, but a visit to Caprock Canyons State Park and its reds, golds, and oranges, will change your mind!
Texas may have a unfair reputation for being flat and boring, but there is so much more to this state! Check out the other canyons, mountains, forests, sand dunes, rivers, and prairies that make this state so amazing to explore!
- Mountains in Texas: Fact or Fiction?
- Best El Paso Hiking Trails
- The Absolute Best Hikes in Texas You Can’t Afford to Miss!
- The Best Outdoor Things to Do in Fort Davis
- Top Things to Do in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- The Best of Palo Duro Canyon State Park Hiking
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