My 9-year-old camping buddy and I headed Northwest into the sparsely populated part of Texas two weekends ago. Every town we came to is a landmark of some sort.
As we drove through Stamford, home of the largest amateur rodeo in Texas, the temperature dropped to 25, which is a tad cold for tent camping. In Aspermont, we stopped for breakfast—Dairy Queen hamburgers and coffee.
After Aspermont, we entered King County, population 286. King is the second least populated county in Texas, and the third in the U.S. We drove for miles and miles through the famous 6666 Ranch. Due to the current drought in that area, the tanks were dry. The only water we saw came from windmills. The big city in King County is Guthrie, which is simply the headquarters for the Four Sixes. Ben wanted to stop at the ranch storehouse, but it was closed.
Thirty miles north to Paducah. 30 miles west to Matador. There, we stopped for another meal at Mainstreet Café. Matador looks no different from when I left there eleven years ago. And then, it looked no different than it did in the Roy Rogers movie that was filmed there in the 70’s. Ah, West Texas.
Thirty miles north to Turkey, home of Bob Wills, 10 miles west to Quitaque, and 3 miles north to Caprock Canyons State Park. As soon as we crossed the cattle guards, we were among one of the few genetically pure Bison herds in the U.S. still grazing on their native lands.
Our campsite was in the tent only campgrounds at Lake Theo. Out of 9 campsites, there was one other tent. This is a benefit of the state parks in the Northwest part of the state—they aren’t crowded.
As we hiked a section of the many miles of trails in the park, the temperature rose to where we took off our jackets and kept an eye out for rattlers, which are more abundant than people. Twice in two days did we pass other hikers.
That night, the temperature dropped back to 30, but because of the dry air it was comfortable. The park was dark and, other than animal sounds, very quiet.
Early in the morning, we drove into Quitaque to buy a coffee at Allsups. Because of the above-mentioned drought, there was a burn ban, so my campfire coffee pot was useless. But a trip to Quitaque doesn’t ruin the camping experience. We saw a group of six Mule deer just a mile out-of-town.
There’s a lot to say about Caprock Canyons, but I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the story telling. As we often say, you could vacation a lifetime without ever leaving Texas. If you want a great road trip, make Caprock Canyons your destination. Ben and I both agree it is our favorite state park.