Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Caprock Canyons State Park

Photobucket We have gone camping a few times over the last couple months and it has been really hard to find the kind of information I was seeking about campgrounds.  Specifically, the kids friendliness and practicality of the campgrounds.   This one is a short drive from our house and and beautiful but the website is less than helpful when planning your trip there.  So, things we learned about camping at Caprock Canyons State Park.

First of all, there are 5 campgrounds plus backwoods camping.  The most expensive site is $20 a night and that is with full electric and water hookups.  There is a lot of info left off the website that is nice to know if you are traveling with little kiddos.

1. Lake Theo Campground
These are tent campsites along a small lake.  They have shared water spigots, restrooms, and picnic tables BUT they are walk-in sites.  You have to haul in all your stuff from a near by parking lot, 100 yards or so away.  Not so little kid friendly.  If I were in college, or sans kids these would be a good option.

Photobucket 2. Honea Flat Campground (also listed as Honey Flat Campground)
This is where you want to stay with little kids.  Tent, trailer, pop-up... whatever gear you have.  This the only option for pop-up, rvs and trailers.  Nice large grassy sites, all with electricity (a nice bonus), and their own water spigots.  The sites are all large, relatively private, and have grass.  There are bathhouses with showers and a playground in this campground.  This is where we stayed the first weekend we camped at Caprock Canyons.  Until our kids are way bigger, this is the only one we will stay at again.  You could easily share these sites with another family, maximum campsite occupancy is 8 though.  RESERVE THESE SITES BEFORE YOU GO, ESPECIALLY ON WEEKENDS.  My kids are partial to sites 13 and 15 as they back up to the playground.  And the bathrooms.  There are raccoon a plenty in the park, so pack all food into your car or trailer at night.  Unless you want to see a raccoon ;)  The above photo of Mr. Shock with the wild sunflowers is from Honea Flats.

3. Wild Horse Campground
Uh, you can camp there with your horse.  If you have a horse and would want to do that. I do not have a horse and desire to never have a horse.  I think these sites have stables... but don't quote me on it!

Photobucket 4. Little Red Tent Campground
This is where we stayed on our second trip to Caprock Canyons.  It is farther up in the canyon and the views are great.  This was not ideal for camping with little kids.   First, these are walk in sites.  It was maybe 150 feet from our car to where our site was.  Our older kids were amazing and carried all kinds of stuff back and forth.  With our twins still being little, I was useless for anything other than toddler duty during set-up and tear down.  Second, and this was a big one for me, there is no water in the entire campground.  Not a single spigot.  And the closest water supply is maybe a ten minute drive back through the park.  Third, the campsite was entirely red dirt.  This really isn't a problem other than with no water everything gets really dirty really fast.  The campsites were pretty small and close together although they did each have their own picnic table and shade structure.  The photo of Miss Awe and her sonic cup is in the Little Red Tent Campground.

5. South Prong Tent Campground
Basically the same as Little Red Tent except for farther up the canyon and therefore farther from any source of water.  The sites were closer to the parking lot so less carrying stuff but no picnic tables or shade structures.  There would be very little shade here, I imagine it gets HOT in the afternoons in spring and fall and is unbearable in the summer.

6. Backcountry Camping
Not happening with kids.  Good luck to you if you decide to try it out :)

Other assorted tips:
1. We took the kids on a short hike from behind campsite 56 in the Little Red Tent Campground down to the spring and the river.  It was a tiny, gentle stream and the kids enjoyed walking in it until the girls got muddy and then they went all princess crazy on us.  But we would do it again.  It was doable for us to each carry a one-year old the whole distance in our arms, so not long at all.
2. It was terrifyingly windy the first time we camped there, so windy our tent collapsed several times before we packed up at 3am and came home.  That was a tornado watch night though, definitely not typical.  The second time was still quite windy and cooler than we expected.  Our tent held up fine the second weekend but we didn't sleep very well.
3. There is another playground down in the day use area by the lake.  Our kids really liked that one and it was more toddler friendly than the one in the campground.  It is also right by the dock over the lake. There is also a Children's nature center that Hubs took the older kids too.  They seemed to enjoy it, but I don't think you could spend more than half an hour there.  Pretty tiny.