Comanche Trail

Posted on August 13th, 2014

Every few years I make a point of scheduling a travel article for the Panhandle region. It ranks pretty low on the list of top travel destinations in Texas, but that’s not entirely fair. Although the climate is harsh and the “attractions” widespread, there’s genuine appeal in a remote getaway to the ruggedly picturesque Caprock Canyon landscape.

My themed itinerary focused on the Quanah Parker Trail, a collection of Panhandle communities with sites related to the last Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. Parker thrived in the region as a warrior and eventually an “assimilist,” who adopted the White Man’s Ways (and found some success as a businessman and rancher). Though many of the small communities on this trail are desolate, there are others that offer a time warp to decades past, before downtowns were homogenized with Starbucks and Wi-Fi hotspots on every corner. In the Panhandle, you’re more likely to encounter a 25-foot tall metal arrow sculpture “pinpointing” a significant spot on the Quanah Parker Trail.
While traversing the trail, I stumbled upon a previously undiscovered gem: Caprock Canyons State Park, home of the official State of Texas buffalo herd. It’s worth making a half-day’s drive just to see these magnificent creatures and learn about their story—the several dozen buffalo at the park are the only remnants of the once-great (as in 5 million strong) Great Plains Herd, decimated by settlers more than a century ago. Plans are in the works to bolster this herd and (somewhat) return them to their former glory.

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