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Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs

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Offline Gary K

  • Kangaroo Rat
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Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« on: February 29, 2016, 03:41:03 PM »
I got great help last year for my tent-camping trip to Big Bend last Thanksgiving.  Now I'm looking at Palo Duro and Caprock for Spring Break (week of March 14).  PDSP shows on the TPWD website as full, and the hold time on the reservation phone line says 1.5+ hours, and PDSP direct line is a recording that sends into a blind canyon. 

First question is whether there are a number of first-come, first-served spots at Palo Duro like there are at Big Bend NP.  Next question is whether people will stay at the less-popular Caprock Canyon SP and do daytrips to Palo Duro.  I know it's about 1.5 hours each way. 

Second question is how much time is enough time at either or both.  At Big Bend, four nights at National Park and two at State Park were enough for that dose.  I'm assuming that, on that scale, PD and CC would be around four days total, or less. 

Third question, related to that, is for someone re coming from Houston, is there anything else in that area that is worth the extra miles while we're in the neighborhood?  There are not a lot of green blotches on the Panhandle map.  I recently read Empire of the Summer Moon and also Blood and Thunder (more West of there) and have some sense of the history of that region, which is why I want to go there.   I've also ordered Caprock Canyonlands by Flores. 

Finally, any recommendations on campgrounds or tent campsites at the two parks?  I did as much of a word search on the forum as I could, and didn't really find that. 

Thanks.

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Offline mbender

  • Coyote
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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2016, 03:44:49 PM »
I did the Caprock/Palo Duro thing  the third week of March last year, so I guess it was the week after spring break. Anyway, we stayed three nights in Caprock and did a daytrip to Palo Duro. Our group had no problem getting three campsites in Caprock... but we reserved early. Caprock would be your best bet for camping, because Palo Duro is way more popular. The daytrip to PD was easy... no traffic and high speed limits. Get to PD early to avoid the long line to get into the park. The Caprock campsite had heated bathrooms with showers, and was peaceful.

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Offline dprather

  • Mountain Lion
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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2016, 04:29:24 PM »
I did the Caprock/Palo Duro thing  the third week of March last year, so I guess it was the week after spring break. Anyway, we stayed three nights in Caprock and did a daytrip to Palo Duro. Our group had no problem getting three campsites in Caprock... but we reserved early. Caprock would be your best bet for camping, because Palo Duro is way more popular. The daytrip to PD was easy... no traffic and high speed limits. Get to PD early to avoid the long line to get into the park. The Caprock campsite had heated bathrooms with showers, and was peaceful.

Do you know anything about the "Rails to trails" backpacking trail along Caprock Canyons?
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline raptor()

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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2016, 04:32:59 PM »
Never been to PD, but I went to Caprock last fall - it's a great park.  I don't think there are any first come/first serve campsites so if they're full, you're out of luck.  But they have primitive/backpacking sites if you're willing to hike in to camp.  As for how much time you need, that's up to you.  We stayed 3 nights which was plenty of time for the trails in the park. 

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Offline Jalco

  • Mountain Lion
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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2016, 09:04:40 PM »

Do you know anything about the "Rails to trails" backpacking trail along Caprock Canyons?

DP,

Everything I've ever read about the trail is from bicycle forums/blogs.  Apparently, it's not very well maintained and chock full of stickers and thorns.

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Offline qkh178

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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2016, 07:01:12 AM »
About 10 years ago I rode  the last 17 miles (Caprock to South Plains) and back.  It was the only part that was open at that time.  That part of the trail was in good shape at that time.

There's a few pictures of the ride at the link below.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/qkh178/albums/72157601612097590


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Offline Jalco

  • Mountain Lion
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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2016, 07:57:30 AM »
About 10 years ago I rode  the last 17 miles (Caprock to South Plains) and back.  It was the only part that was open at that time.  That part of the trail was in good shape at that time.

There's a few pictures of the ride at the link below.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/qkh178/albums/72157601612097590

nice photos!

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Offline mbender

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  • 223
Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2016, 04:36:46 PM »
Do you know anything about the "Rails to trails" backpacking trail along Caprock Canyons?

Hoo boy. I think I read something about those trails a while back. If I recall the interesting stuff (the tunnels) were all caved in. The trails themselves looked long, flat, and very straight... not very exciting.

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Offline Puertacitas

  • Kangaroo Rat
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Re: Palo Duro, Caprock Canyon, and environs
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2016, 10:58:39 PM »
Do you know anything about the "Rails to trails" backpacking trail along Caprock Canyons?

Hoo boy. I think I read something about those trails a while back. If I recall the interesting stuff (the tunnels) were all caved in. The trails themselves looked long, flat, and very straight... not very exciting.
A few months late, but if anyone's still curious...

I'd have to agree this would be a fairly uninteresting hike. Some of the tunnels do remain intact (and stink like guano), and there are some neat trestle bridges, but pretty uneventful. 

There is some interesting history in the park, though. I do not know if this is true, but for anyone who's read Empire of the Summer Moon, I've heard that a section of the rail to trail hike passes over the canyon in which the Comancheros brought slaves and captives. Can't remember what it was called as I never read it. You can also find fossils of the ancient Bison that roamed the area in the cutoffs the trail passes through, if you know where to look. I couldn't provide specific instructions, but worth inquiring about with locals and park staff on both counts.

 


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