Lots and lots of activities, special groups and events, and carloads of visitors is how I would choose to describe last month. We were all so busy, we hardly had time to blink and then before we knew it, June was already in full swing!
The Wheels on the Bus
We saw lots of bus wheels bringing students out for end of the year fieldtrips to the park. Much of the month of May was spent sharing the Caprock experience with school students and teaching them about the park’s many different resources. My favorite thing is to see the awe in children’s faces or to see the familiar face of a student that had brought his family out for a weekend in the park after his or her fieldtrip experience!
Many people know that just by entering through the park gates that you seemingly step into another place in history. But, the experience becomes even more like reality each year for “Frontier Days”. Every year around May we host this event as a way to end the school year by teaching students the unique history of the great state of Texas and by making the experience here at the park for visitors even a little bit more awe inspiring. Living history re-enactors from all over the state join us to share their love of Texas history and their knowledge of historical events and people. Caprock makes for an exceptional setting to that! It’s definitely where history comes to life and with the help of these wonderful living history folks, visitors and students saw a cannon fire, learned about the life of a buffalo solider, got serenaded by some good ole fashioned cowboy music, stepped back in time to visit with a buffalo hunter, learned about the lifeways of the Comanche, witnessed the incredible and ancient art of flintknapping, and so much more! A total of 434 students attended the event from towns all over the Panhandle. This year’s event was a little bit more special as we remembered the life of David Kreig who portrayed a buffalo hunter for Frontier Days every year here at Caprock. David, you will certainly be missed!
Here’s a few pictures from the event that I think really highlights what Frontier Days is all about:
What to See & Do This Month: Join us for the “Bat Tours”
Special programming this summer is our summer “Bat Tours”. Clarity tunnel, an abandoned railway tunnel on the Caprock Canyons Trailway is home to up to half a million Mexican Free-tailed bats each summer. But, it’s not only the bats that make this tour so special… During these guided vehicle tours along the Trailway, you can view the bat emergence flight AND enjoy spectacular views of the rugged and beautiful breaks of the Llano Estacado all while learning about the unique history of the Trailway all at the same time. But hey, the bat emergence flight is definitely worth it on its own! Tours take at least 2 hours to complete, are every Friday from the months of June through August, and cost $10 per seat. Since space is limited, they are by reservation only so please call the park at (806)455-1492 to reserve your spot. Spots fill up quickly!
Ranger Recommendation: Know Your Limits
As summer temperatures are peaking it’s never too late to remind ourselves of summer weather safety because it could save your life and even someone else’s.
- Take plenty of water with you: We recommend that if you are hiking here at Caprock Canyons that you take AT LEAST a gallon of water per person. If hiking for a long duration, take even more!
- Plan ahead: Know your route or trail and plan accordingly for the distance you desire to go. Try not to be out on the trail in the heat of the day when you could deplete your water reserves even quicker than anticipated.
- Don’t hike alone: Take a friend or family member with you whenever you hike or at the very least, tell someone where you are going and when you plan on returning.
- Think about your pet: If you plan on taking the family pet hiking, it’s best to be mindful that the ground temperature is even more hot than the overall outside temperature. That means that your pet is having to endure an even more hot hike than you are. Plan ahead and bring plenty of water for your pet too!
- Know the signs of heat stroke and dehydration: If you feel yourself becoming too hot or notice that you have already drank half of your water, turn back! Never continue on a trail when you feel dehydrated or are feeling some of the symptoms of heat stroke because your mind and body will not be performing at its optimum state. Many hikers have become lost by continuing on a trail in a dehydrated state of confusion. Enjoy the park, but know your limits!
June 15th, 22nd, and 29th
- “Bat Tours”, reservations required, call the park at (806)455-1492 for reservations and more program information.
- “Prairie Safari”, 10:00 a.m., Reservations Required, call the park at (806)455-1492 for reservations and more program information.
- “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
- “Little Habitat on the Prairie”, 9:00 a.m., Meet at the Honey Flat Restrooms
- “Caprock Bingo”, 2:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion
- “The Park after Dark Hike”, 9:00 p.m., Meet at the South Prong Parking Lot
- “Caprock Van Tour”, 10:00 a.m., Reservations Required, call the park at (806)455-1492 for reservations and more program information.
- “Goin’ Batty”, 2:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion
- “The Texas State Bison Herd”, 9:15 p.m., Interpretive Amphitheater
Quote of the Month:
“By day the bat is cousin to the mouse. He likes the attic of an aging house. His fingers make a hat about his head. His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead. He loops in crazy figures half the night among the trees that face the corner light. But when he brushes up against a screen, We are afraid of what our eyes have seen: For something is amiss or out of place when mice with wings can wear a human face.” ~Theodore Roethke
When I talk to kids about bats, I tell them that next to the bison, bats are one of my most favorite animals here at Caprock. They always look at me like I’m crazy but the fact is, bats don’t really deserve the bad reputation that we sometimes give them. In fact, bats serve nothing but good purposes for the human race such as free pest control or even medical studies as the case is for the vampire bat. Up to 80% of a Mexican Free-tailed bat’s diet is made up of the cotton bollworm moth which can do considerable damage to our cotton crops. And for farmers in our area, that means lots of free pest control help considering that each bat eats nearly half its body weight in insects each summer night! That also includes pesky insects like mosquitoes. Not to mention the fact that there are half a million inside Clarity Tunnel equating to a conservative estimate of approximately 2,500 lbs. of insect consumption! We’re talking big savings here folks! So, the next time we encounter a bat, which happens to us all nearly every summer night if we go outside after dusk, let’s take some time to thank it for its services!
Have a happy summer!