Bison graze just beyond the main road as we enter Caprock Canyons State Park northeast of Lubbock. They loom large, dark, and shaggy against the tawny open range on a late-September afternoon. It looks like a scene out of the Old West.
Every Texan should experience the primordial mystery of Caddo Lake State Park. With its ghostly, century-old cypress trees draped with gray-green Spanish moss, cozy cabins built in the 1930s, and a history that encompasses pearl hunting and steamboating, a Caddo getaway works efficiently to re-set your perspective. Stay at the park, or find lodging and dining in the nearby towns of Uncertain, Marshall, and Jefferson.
From my shady perch on a high, breezy ridge, I scanned wooded slopes and rocky ledges fading to blue in the distance underneath a cloudless sky. It’s somehow comforting to know that hundreds of years ago, explorers sitting in this spot would have taken in roughly the same view of the rugged Balcones Escarpment landscape, now within the boundaries of Lost Maples State Natural Area.
My boyfriend seems unusually skittish as he peers into the utter blackness beyond our cabin door at Caddo Lake State Park. I’ve prepared two hot cups of ginger tea for us to sip on the porch in the crisp night air. But Marshall, willing only to open the door a crack, suggests that we enjoy our tea in the cozy confines of the cabin’s interior.
In the October 2013 issue of Texas Highways, Babs Rodriguez’s account of a fall fishing getaway shows how so many wrongs can make a right. Here’s the full story.
Standing on the high dive—one of few left these days—I can see the bottom of this 25-foot-deep pool through water almost as clear as the arid desert air that surrounds Balmorhea State Park on the hem of the Davis Mountains. A quintessential oasis.
We camped near a dry creek bed in Davis Mountains State Park, my daughter Ursula tucked into her junior-sized sleeping bag, pressed against my side for warmth in the cool night. Through the tent flap, I kept an eye on the spinning galaxies as she slept, listening to her sweet breath coming and going. Then, under those bright stars, a strange noise suddenly intruded, a snuffling near the picnic table. Good thing I put those rocks on the cooler, I thought, big suckers weighing five to six pounds apiece. Our food would be safe. Wrong.
Somewhere on the first mile of our hike through Bastrop State Park, I quit gawking at the canopy of foliage above and realized our trail had transformed into a fine, beach-like sand. I stopped and scooped up a handful, recalling the park guidebook in my pocket discussing this sandy earth; how it retains moisture from the clay-based soils below; how it’s the reason a dense pine forest is able to grow in the heart of Central Texas. As we lingered among these towering trees, I told my girlfriend, Duvall, that the setting reminded me of the Deep South—perhaps southern Alabama or Georgia, or my home state of Mississippi, for that matter.
As the last swimmers of the day collect their beach balls and a lone angler cleans his catch, a beaver plows a rippling “V” across the small lake at Fort Boggy State Park, near Centerville. Then, with a loud thwack of its tail upon the water’s blue-green surface, it dives below.
Scores of cliff swallows billow out of the canyon, forming a swirling, 100-foot column above the rim. Just beyond the tips of my hiking boots, the blood-red canyon wall, bathed in late-afternoon light, drops 160 feet to the broken string of shallow pools that make up Holmes Creek.