Unless you're in Quitaque, it's quite a haul to the state park, but at least you'll be in a car and not in stage
coach. From
Childress, take US 287 west to TX 86 west. Keep following TX 86 past Turkey to Quitaque, which
sits at the southern entrance to the park.

Plainview, go east on US 70 to Floydada, then north on TX 207, then east on TX 256 to the northern park

Amarillo, take US 287 southwest to TX 70. Drive south on TX 70, turn southwest onto TX 256, and follow it
to the northern entrance of Caprock Canyon State Park.
Caprock Canyon: History in Red
Texas has many outstanding state parks, some better than others. Of course, your tastes may depend on your reasons for visiting the
parks: you might find the parks around lakes the best because you've got a boat, or you might like the parks inside the forests because
hiking's your thing.

Well, you're wrong! No, not really. But seriously, the BEST state park I've ever visited has got to be
Caprock Canyon. And here are the

1. History (of course)
Situated just to the north of really nothing and west of Childress along the Little Red River, the canyon walls and wide prairies have
served the
Comanches, Kiowas, and other nomadic tribes in their hunt for bison. Even prior to that, evidence shows that prehistoric
tribes sought shelter and hunted small game in the rocks. Coronado apparently visited the canyon and its environs in 1541 or
thereabouts, commenting that the area that would become Texas was eerie, with seas of grass that could swallow one whole, and
punctuated with violent weather. The Comancheros held sway here, trading with the Comanches not only in weapons, pots, and other
modern accoutrements, but in captured American women as well. During the
Red River Wars of the 1870s, Ranald McKenzie trailed
Quanah Parker along the caprock on his way to the showdown at
Palo Duro Canyon, and it was at Caprock Canyon where McKenzie's
troops slaughtered over 1,000 of the Comanche's horses.

2. Bison
The official state of Texas bison herd lives on about 700 acres in the canyon. Although hunted to extinction by 19th century men hell-bent
on exploiting any and all resources (and sparking an environmental movement at the turn of the 20th century), Mary Goodnight, wife
of the legendary Charles Goodnight, urged her husband and his ranching partner, John Adair, to save a handful during the last slaughter
of the 1880s. Goodnight later came to regret his role in the "loss of the West," and worked hard to preserve what authenticity he could.
His lasting legacy, and the one for which he wanted to be best remembered, was saving the bison. The JA Ranch, which housed the
remnants of the ancient bison herd within their million-acre holding, donated the animals to Texas Parks and Wildlife in the 1990s, thus
creating living history within the Caprock Canyon walls.

3. Geography
Without prejudice (okay, maybe a little), I believe that the caprock is truly a one-of -a-kind, very Texas landscape. After all, this is the place
that separates the flat, staked plains to the west and north (aka the Great Plains) from the hilly, gentle plains in the east (
Cross Timbers,
Grand Prairie, and Blackland Prairie region).  The red brittle earth, punctuated with seams of hard white rock, salt deposits and carpeted
by native grasses with roots that reach hundreds of feet to find the nearest water table, frames deep blue skies that at times produce
random thunderstorms and often reveal arid winds and desert-like heat.

4. The Biking Trail
The state of Texas converted 64 miles (!) of the Fort Worth Denver City railroad, chartered in the 1880s, into hiking, biking, and horse
trails. Some parts of the trail are a little bumpy, but you don't have to ride the entire trail to have a good time and see some awesome
things. My son and I took our bikes to Quitaque and rode about eleven miles west to the Clarity Tunnel, the last remaining railroad tunnel
in the state. Bats roost inside, so beware of the smell and the creepiness, but it's also a spectacular sight at sunset and in the summer
months, when they flit around during the day to stay cool.

5. Unpronounceable Names
Quitaque is pronounced Kitty-kway. Whod'a thunk?
Meet some new friends at Caprock Canyon State Park.
The entrance to the Clarity Tunnel, one of two along the Fort worth
Denver City Railway that is now the Caprock Canyon Trail.
Mileage markers line the hike & bike trail that was once the Fort
Worth Denver City Railroad right-of-way.
Prairie and caprock along the dry river bed of the Little Red River in Caprock Canyon State Park, Texas.
Following the route of steam locomotives.
The bike trail is surrounded by ranch land, much of it unfenced. We shared the majority of the trail with a longhorn family and helped the local
rancher (he was on a four wheeler) herd them back to pasture.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com