Pole Canyon Ranch (PCR) is an outstanding equine destination. Located Southeast of Amarillo, about 100 miles, and just 12 miles from Caprock Canyon State Park, which includes the Caprock Canyon Trailway, you’ll have a number of riding choices. PCR has water, 30 & 50-amp electricity, pens, 3 room shower house (cleaned daily), and a dump station. There’s also the old ranch house that sleeps 8, with a fully equipped kitchen, so all you’ll need is food.
PCR is 6,000 acres with one boundary fence and one cross fence, which divides the ranch in about 1/3 and 2/3, the latter being the west side. There are numerous trails on the east side, which are all close to camp; if you prefer short rides in easy terrain, this includes the major portion of Pole Creek. However, if you like to ride for 8-10 hours, the west side is for you! Pack lunch and plenty of water.
Have your horse in good shape because there are plenty of long climbs and descents - many being quite steep. There are numerous high-elevation locations where you can see for miles and miles! March, April, and May are the best times to ride the west side due to the lack of water in summer and fall. There are tanks (Texan for ponds) located here and there on the west side. Back on May 25th, we rode by one that was dry.
If you bring a compass, you can’t get lost with their map. There’s no marking on the trails, but at almost every trail intersection, there’s a signpost with a number, and the map has the corresponding number. So if you see the large windmills, they’re west of the ranch, and if you see a large powerline, it’s north of the ranch, running east and west. All the trails are side by side wide, so it’s not single file only.
Pole Creek is a major attraction. It starts on the west side of the ranch with two forks, North Pole Creek and South Pole Creek, and the confluence is a short ride from camp. You’ll get great photos if you start at the east fence in the morning and ride upstream in the morning.
When you reach the confluence, you can ride upstream of either North Pole Creek or South Pole Creek. On North Pole, you’ll encounter a fence a ways up, but it can be accessed again by going to the gate a short way south.
South Pole Creek can be ridden for a long way up before you have to get out, although there are a few waterfalls along the way which can be ridden around if you go to an upstream location and ride downstream in the afternoon. Again, the light will be great for photographs in the canyon.
There are three points of access in the cross fence, which are always open. This is a working cattle ranch, so you’ll encounter mama cows, calves, and bulls. Many interesting rock formations can be found, such as Pig’s Head, Steamboat, and Mt. Rushmore. Do not ride into Los Lingos Creek, which is at the northwest corner of the ranch.
There is a mailbox with the check-in paperwork at the north end of the trailer sites with a map included. When you’re ready to depart, deposit your paperwork with your check in your envelope into the check out the mailbox. WiFi is available; the password is in the paperwork.
Here are the coordinates for the driveway on FM 689:
Lat: 34.299 Long: -101.130
You’ll have to manually enter these due to a glitch in both Google and Apple Maps. Directions from Quitaque are 4 miles south on FM 1065 and 4 miles west on FM 689. There are some solar lights at the gate for arrival after dark. If you have a long trailer, it’s best to swing very wide left before turning right into the cattle guard gate, which is open.
Most folks have shoes on all four, but if you’re comfortable with boots, put them on. There’s lots of rock. We put plastic shoes on this trip and will never go with steel anywhere again. They performed awesome, and there’s no need for pads with these shoes.
There’s a rich history to this ranch, which you may read on their website, www.polecanyon.com, along with other information.
You’ll encounter wildlife such as ravens, coyotes, deer, hundreds of cliff-dwelling swallows, and hawks. Since our first trip there in 2014, we’ve seen very few snakes, but they are there. They probably feel the vibrations of the horses and depart the area, but we keep an eye out.
In the town of Quitaque (KITTY QUAY), you’ll find a convenience store with gas and diesel, a post office, a feed store, a grocery store, two cafés, an automotive repair shop, and a church.
Phil and Lynnette Barefield are great hosts! PCR has been in Lynnette’s family since 1911. We thank them for sharing it with us. They’re in and out a couple of times a day, checking on and visiting with folks.