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The Thundering Herd- May 2019

Another month has come and gone and we are wondering where it went!  Fast and furious is how we would describe things around here.  Every weekend the campgrounds are full and there is a steady flow of day users to the park.  Sometimes its even hard for us to tell the week from the weekend.  But, what a great problem to have.  We love sharing Caprock with others so I’ll share a run down of some of the things that took place in the month of April…

While many of us were anticipating those sometimes agonizing jokes of April fools day, none of us received any from park visitors.  However, we’ve been experiencing April Fools all month long!  It’s been threatening to rain for many days now, but unfortunately, the weather has just been teasing us.  It’s rained in other parts of the Panhandle, but it seems to just skirt around us.  Nevertheless, we are hopeful for some big rains to help quench the thirst of the park landscape and help fill the waters in Lake Theo.

There have been lots of school fieldtrips this past month as students learned about the natural and cultural history of the park.  From nature hikes to dart throwing with the atlatl, students from all over the local area had a great experience in the park.

The Wild Canyon Ultra was a great success although the weather turned off cold and drizzly.  Nevertheless, runners from all over the country (even some from other countries) came to run the rugged and beautiful, wild canyon country of the park.  Participants ran in 5K, 10K, 25K, 50K, and even 100K races on the trails within the park.  We are always looking forward to the next Wild Canyon Ultra race facilitated by the good folks of Ultra Expeditions who do such a fantastic job with the race every year.  Here’s a look at a picture from the race this year:

 

Also in April, we finally saw the first prairie dog pup pop up out of its burrow.  You can see the childish antics of this comical crew as you drive down the park roads by the Honey Flat Restrooms or take a short hike down the Canyon Rim trail to spot some prairie dogs who are a little less outgoing.

April 17th was “Bat Appreciation Day”.  We are very appreciative of the large colony of Mexican Free-tailed bats that roost in historic Clarity Tunnel during the summer months and provide a beautiful emergence flight for visitors.  Not to mention the enormous amount of crop pests and insects they consume every night.  The month of April is when we began to notice these creatures of the night returning from their winter respite in Mexico.  Currently, a group of Texas Tech researchers are conducting a research project on the bats of Clarity Tunnel with the goal of analyzing the small amount of these bats that choose to overwinter inside Clarity Tunnel.  These intrepid researchers are studying the body temperatures of these bats and how they have been regulating their body temperatures to endure the colder weather during winter.  Don’t forget that “Bat Tours” will be starting soon.  The first ones are scheduled in June and they will continue through August.  We are ready to sign you up for a tour so give us a call to confirm your spot!  Here’s a picture from some of Texas Tech’s research:

Photo courtesy of Texas Tech University

Easter Weekend saw many families enjoying time spent together and of course all of the campgrounds were full!  Easter Sunrise Services were held in the park this year by the Quitaque Methodist Church.

What to See & Do this Month:  Wildflower Watch!

This year, May seems to be the best month to enjoy gazing at the mixture of color from wildflowers in the prairie and in the canyons.  Currently, there are a multitude of different varieties of wildflowers.  You can also join us for our “Wildflower Walk” on May 11th at 2:00 p.m.!

Ranger Recommendation:

Take a walk down the Canyon Rim trail for a view of prairie wildflowers and then make your way down the trail even further to view those hardy ones that grow along the canyon slopes!  The Upper Canyon Trail at South Prong has some good ones too that you don’t want to miss!

Programs & Events:

May 11:

  • Beginning Birding, 8:30 a.m., Meet at the Wildlife Viewing Blind.  Please bring binoculars if you have them!
  • Wildflower Walk, 2:00 p.m., Meet at the Honey Flat Restrooms
  • The Dirt Storm Drifters Band, 7:30 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion.  Program is FREE with your paid park entrance fee!

May 18:

  • Caprock Open House, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center.  Enjoy talking with natural resource experts and interacting with living history demonstrators in a special event relating to all things Caprock!  You don’t want to miss this event that is FREE with your paid park entrance fee!

May 25:

  • Trailway Tour, 10:00 a.m., Reservations Required.  Please call the park at (806)455-1492 to reserve your spot!
  • Goin’ Batty, 2:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion.  Program is designed for children 12 and under.
  • Music Under the Stars, 7:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion.  Program is FREE with your paid park entrance fee.
  • Constellations in the Canyons, 9:30 p.m., North Prong Parking Lot.  Please bring a comfortable lawn chair with you!

May 26:

  • Caprock Van Tour, 9:00 a.m., Reservations Required.  Please call the park at (806)455-1492 to reserve your spot!

Quote of the Month:

“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”  ~Anonymous

Interpreter’s Corner:

If you love the park or if you simply want to learn more about it and experience more of the unique natural and cultural history of Caprock Canyons State Park, please join us for our special event this month, Caprock Open House.  Many dedicated volunteers have graciously devoted their time and energy to make this event possible.  Here’s some of the different natural resource stations and living history encampments you can expect to see at this one of a kind event:  living history blacksmithing, Archeology of the Caprock Canyonlands, 7th calvary and frontier scouts, Bison and their uses, Pioneer women and a taste of Texas history, Tipi Storytelling, Falconry, Artillery cannon firing, information on Charles Goodnight by the Charles Goodnight Center, Comanche lifeways, flintknapping, live Black-tailed prairie dogs, 1850’s topographical engineering, rangeland plants and management, live Mexican Free-tailed bats, Panhandle Wildlife Tracks and Sign, Skins and Skulls, and much more!  It’s all things Caprock and it’s FREE with your paid park entrance fee!

Happy May!

Le’Ann