Our family like to go camping & hiking, and in Texas, Spring Break is one of the best times to do it. Last year we went to Hill Country, and this year we went to the Panhandle. But that’s not it. This year our son’s buddy came along with us and he had never done hiking before. Interesting, huh?
Camping & Hiking Around Texas Panhandle
Day 1 – Home to Copper Breaks State Park in Quanah.
We planned to leave no later than 8 in the morning but the miscommunication made us leave at 9.30. Fortunately, the traffic wasn’t bad and we arrived in Quanah around 1 p.m.
We grabbed a quick lunch at Sonic before we headed to our first stop: Hardeman County Jail Museum. Wait! What? A museum in Quanah? And where is Quanah again? You might ask.
Quanah is a town between DFW and Amarillo on US-287 N. We have never stopped there until we made this Spring Break trip. If you pass the town and have extra time, do stop at this museum. It is full of interesting local histories that will make you awe. For more stories about this museum, click this link: Captivated by Hardeman County Jail Museum in Quanah, Texas.
An hour and a half later, we continued the trip to Copper Breaks State Park. It was a 20-minute drive to the south of Quanah where we pitched our tent for the first night of our camping & hiking trip. Here we hiked for 1.66 miles on 2 different trails where the boys had fun climbing and exploring the rocks along the trails. Our son’s friend started to have a headache on the second trail but it’s gone whenever he saw something that interests him.
Copper Breaks State Park has been designated an International Dark Sky Park. After supper, my son set up his telescope to get a closer look at the stars, but at the same time, the temperature started to drop, too. We finally went to bed and woke up with frost on the tent the next morning. A Polar Bear Badge for the boys.
Travel time: Joshua-Quanah, approx. 3 h 30 m. Take I-35W N to US-287 N.
Accommodation: Camping at Copper Breaks SP for $10 a night.
Entrance Fee: Adult: $2 daily while children 12 years and under: free. Or free with your Texas State Park Pass.
Day 2 – Copper Breaks State Park to Caprock Canyons State Park in Quitaque (pronounce: kitty-quay).
Today we continued to Caprock Canyons State Park and we made it in time for the boys to join the ranger program called “Pin the Tail on the… err… uhm…bison?!” at 2 p.m. Chock-full information about bison and bison in the area in particular.
Caprock Canyons State Park is the official home of the bison herd descends directly from the Goodnight bison. They are unique because they kept isolated from other bison gene pools. Therefore, these animals are among the last remaining members of the Southern Plains bison herd.
Here we stayed at the Equestrian Campsite because all of the campsites with water and electricity were fully booked. We could stay at the sites with water and organic toilet, but no thank you. I preferred to bring our own toilet and set it up in the pop-up privacy tent. This set up was the first time happened in our camping & hiking trip.
We went to explore the canyon for the rest of the day. At night, our son set up his telescope again. The night sky was so pretty with millions of stars visible compared to our first night at Copper Breaks SP.
Travel time: Copper Breaks SP-Caprock Canyons SP, approx. 2 hours. Back to Quanah and continue on 287 to Childress and make a left to TX-86 W at Estelline. It will take you passed Turkey and Quitaque.
Accommodation: Wild Horse Camping Area in the park. $14 nightly and 50% off for the 2nd night with our Texas State Park Pass.
Entrance Fee: Adult: $4 daily, child 12 years and under: free. Or free with Texas State Park Pass.
Day 3 – Exploring Caprock Canyons State Park.
This morning we hiked the Canyon Rim Trail with a plan to turn to Canyon Rim Spur Trail. I walked with our son’s friend. He told me that he had never done hiking before and he thought he found it enjoyable. “I like the nature. It’s so quiet here,” he said. Good for him.
An hour later we encountered a herd of bison who were grazing on the grass around the hiking trail that we were going to pass. It’s pretty cool to be able to see them right in their native habitat and just about 50 yards away from us. But they made us turn around because we didn’t know how long they would stay there. The good thing was, it’s almost lunch time for us as well.
In the afternoon we hiked to the Natural Bridge and after that, we climbed and explored the rocks around the area.
After supper, we joined another ranger program called Constellations in the Canyon. The park’s volunteers from 3 Rivers Foundation and Amarillo Star Gazing Club put out their huge high-end telescopes for the visitors to enjoy the night sky. Our son decided that he needed to set up his telescope, too, but it’s only us who peeked through his telescope.
For more story of our adventure in this park, read Roaming with the Bison at Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway.
Day 4 – Caprock Canyons SP to Amarillo.
Today we left for Amarillo with main destinations Palo Duro Canyon and Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. Too bad we didn’t get to camp in Palo Duro Canyon SP because they were fully booked. So we stayed at Amarillo RV Ranch Park on I-40, about a block from the Big Texan.
After lunch, we went to Alibates Flint Quarries, the First National Monument in Texas. It’s an interesting park where we got to see different colors of flints, once used as a source of raw materials for weapons and tools by the prehistoric people. Most of the flints on the hill and climbing to the top it’s like climbing a 17-stories building!
Back to the RV Park, the boys and my husband went swimming while I did the laundry. You would think with the guests staying there with their thousands of dollars recreational vehicle it would be safe, huh? Nope! Somebody stole my hoodie jacket from the dryer. Agh…
Travel time: Caprock Canyons SP-Amarillo RV Ranch Park approx. 1 h 45 m. From Caprock, we drove through Silverton on TX-86 W to Tulia, and then took I-27 N passing Happy and Canyon before we turned to I-40 to Amarillo.
Accommodation: Amarillo RV Ranch Park tent camping. $20 nightly. Indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, complimentary donuts in the morning, paid laundry.
Day 5 – Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Slightly less than an hour we arrived at Palo Duro Canyon with the main goal to hike the Lighthouse Trail. Lighthouse is an iconic rock formation in the park and everyone tries to go there. The trail was 2.72 mi one way plus we still had to climb the steep path to go to the bottom of the Lighthouse.
I admitted it’s a long hike. It took an hour and a half for us to get to the end of the trail with all the breaks and the drama along the way. First, our son said he couldn’t make it because it’s too far. After I said he could do it and he could only touch the snacks once we got to end of the trail, he took off and never complained about the rest of the trail. Next was his friend who said he got choke and showed me crocodile tears after it’s his turn to carry the day pack. Oh boy. If you go with your children, you really need to encourage them.
The temperature was 60 when we started hiking, and it went up to 70 in the middle of the trail, and by the times we arrived back at the starting point, it’s already at 83. Man, it was really hot at the canyon. Fortunately, there was a snow cone hut right next to our car. Phew!
We’re glad we finally made the trail.
Back at the RV Park, the boys went swimming again. We went to bed early that night. We were so exhausted from the hiking.
Entrance Fee: Adult: $5 daily. Kids 12 and under: free. Or free with Texas State Park Pass.
Day 6 – Amarillo to Home Sweet Home.
It’s time to go home! Yay! Our camping & hiking trip full with memorable memory that we will keep in our hearts.
Travel time: Amarillo-Home in Joshua, TX approx. 5 h 30 m but with sitting lunch and pit stop we made it around 7 hours.
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