Caprock Canyons State Park is located in the panhandle country of Texas, about 100 miles southeast of Amarillo. The primary attraction is undoubtedly the colorful and rugged geography. The state park is 15,300 acres of erosional canyons and exposed ancient sedimentary deposits on the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado. The Llano Estacado is one of the flattest places on earth, but the escarpment edge rises dramatically hundreds of feet up from the lower plains and canyon bottoms.
In addition to the geology and geography, the state park also features a bison herd, a prairie dog colony, campgrounds, a fishing lake, important historic and prehistoric archaeological sites, and over 90 miles of trails.
My time at the Caprock Canyons State Park was brief, but I did manage two short 2-mile hikes plus a visit to the natural bridge. I absolutely plan on visiting the park again to hike the longer trails and see more of the backcountry.
The free hiking trail map available at the visitor center should be sufficient for hiking within the park. The trails are generally well-maintained and easy to follow.
The trails are well-marked and the odds of getting lost are slim, but if a section is labeled “steep and rugged” on the map, it’s no exaggeration.
Some good advice:
The “steep and rugged” Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail climbs over 400′ from the trailhead.
The Upper Canyon Trail passes many colorful formations. There was a bit of water in the creek during this February visit but I wouldn’t count on it during hot or dry seasons.
The sedimentary deposits of the Llano Estacado are over 200 million years old. Within these ancient deposits, bands of gypsum crystals have formed over time. These bands create some interesting geologic features within the park, including collapsed domes and a natural bridge.
Caprock Canyons State Park also includes the Trailway, a 64-mile-long abandoned railroad line that runs from Estelline to South Plains, Texas. The Trailway is open to backpackers, day hikers, bicyclers, and horsemen.
Travelers should be prepared and relatively self-sufficient when touring this very rural region of Texas. Driving through the nearby town of Turkey, for example, there was a gas station / convenience store but no restaurants, supermarket, or other obviously open businesses. This is the Turkey, Texas business district during a holiday weekend when the state park was quite busy with visitors:
Lodging could be a logistical hurdle when visiting Caprock Canyons State Park. There are no open public lands for wilderness camping or overnight parking. An online search indicates there is a hotel in Turkey but I did not notice it while driving through town. The obvious alternatives are the state park campgrounds or ‘commuting’ from motels in larger towns 50-60 miles away along Interstate 27 and US Route 287.