Wolf Bite! Wolf Caves Off Road Park Review

Wolf Caves Off Road Park
  • Wolf Caves Off Road Park is located in Mason, Texas
  • Among most technical rock crawling trails in Texas
  • Lexus GX460 drove Wolf Caves Off Road Park

Deep in the Texas Hill Country exists a giant granite outcropping strewn with massive boulders, walls and rocks. Wolf Caves Off Road Park saw an opportunity to create one of the most technical rock crawling spots in the entire state and created the infamous facility of the same name. We recently visited Wolf Caves in the Lexus GX460 and were taught a very important lesson.

Wolf Caves Off Road Park
Extreme Trails at Wolf Caves Off Road Park

Wolf Caves offers some of Texas’ most gnarly, massive, technical rock crawling that will challenge even the most capable rigs. While they offer trails ranging from easy to extreme, most of their trails definitely favor the difficult moniker. “Rear steering capable” is recommended for their most extreme trails – seriously!? Some of the trails at Wolf Caves literally go up vertical walls while others traverse couch sized boulders 3 feet apart from one another. On our visit, we personally witnessed a massive, dedicated rock crawler struggle to make it up a trail that wasn’t even rated extreme.

As you would expect, Wolf Caves offers off road trails but also provides simple spots for overnight camping with some setups for RVs with electric, cabins, a pavilion and onsite shop for merch. You pay by the weekend instead of by the day – $60 if arriving Friday and $40 if arriving Saturday. Road legal and trailered full size vehicles are allowed but ATVs, UTVs, SXSs, and motorcycles are not.

What was the lesson we learned? There’s an important concept in life that states the foolhardy and overly brazen are often humbled. Such was our experience as we blazed down our first trail at Wolf Caves. We thought we were on the easiest trail and therefore wasn’t worried about spotting each other or necessary wheel placement. What looked like a simple granite ledge on an easy trail was actually an intermediate trail and soon high centered the Lexus GX460 when the front wheels dropped off a foot tall ledge on the other side. The GX was perfectly centered such that traction on one axle simply teetered the vehicle’s weight to the other axle. We tried traction boards at several wheels, even stacking them for more height.

Lexus GX460 Stuck Using Traction Board for Recovery
Lexus GX460 Stuck Using Traction Board for Recovery
Lexus GX460 Jerk Strap Recovery
Lexus GX460 Jerk Strap Recovery

After realizing the traction boards were not going to work we determined our options were to winch ourselves off the rock, jack up the vehicle to get enough height to travel over the rock, or simply have James in his Xterra pull me off the rock with a jerk strap. We opted for the simplest option – a jerk strap was soon attached to both cars and the GX was unceremoniously snatched from its perch. It’s a good lesson that traveling with a buddy is always better than doing it solo.

Wolf Caves Off Road park is an incredibly difficult off road facility and I would only recommend it for rigs with significant clearance, tire size, and appropriate armor. We did, however have a tremendously fun time there and remembered it fondly upon returning to our campsite at Dos Rios RV Park on the Llano River. Should you go? Only you can determine that… and if you have the necessary guts to try it!

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Video Transcript: (taken directly from the video)

Kelly: So wow this is  impressive so far. I’ve managed to get myself high centered here.

James: yeah, that didn’t take long did it all.

Voiceover: right let’s pause it right there for just a second. I think I need to explain first how we got here. 

Movie Guy Voice: in the expansive and rugged Texas hill country giant boulders extend from the ground and…

Voiceover: okay let’s just get into it. 

Kelly: all right James… where are we today? 

James: we’re at Wolf Caves out in the hill country of Texas.

Kelly: and we’re out here today in the Lexus GX and then James what are you driving?

James: I’m driving my Nissan Xterra as always.

Kelly: awesome. So this is our first time out here at wolf caves and  we’re gonna go drive the trails today see what kind of trouble we can get into. So one thing I was noticing is  you know whereas most trails, like the greens are the easy trails and then it kind of goes green blue red.

James: every place I’ve ever been.

Kelly: out here a little different… so white is the main trail, blue is the easy, green is the moderate, and I guess this is like kind of an amber color is difficult, and then red is extreme. So it’s kind of color spaghetti out here. Anyway we’re gonna see what we can get into. I know it’s really rocky out here so wolf caves you know it’s known for being really rocky. They’ve got these giant boulders out here  that you’ll see today. The hill country is known for having a lot of rocks right, we just know that. But then Wolf Caves in particular along, with Katemcy Rocks, they’re both known for having just giant rocks. massive! and so I mean our cars… you know they’re set up for overlanding, some mild rock crawling, so we’re not gonna get crazy today because we gotta drive it home. so we’re gonna take it a little bit easy – we wanna make sure we drive home. we’re gonna go try the trails – see what we can get into and we’ll take you along.

Voiceover: we looked at the map and charted a course to some of the easier trails to start off the day. it wasn’t long before we were reminded of why wolf cage is considered to be some of the most technical rock crawling in the state. from here we approached our first trail of the day and it brings us back to the beginning of this video when things went south. in the video we described this as being the easiest level of trail but after looking at the map more closely we realized we were, in fact, on a moderate level trail. let’s take a look here and see what I did.

Kelly: I mean honestly, we’re on the white trail at this point. 

James: this is the highway!

Kelly: you can see that I am high sided right there so I am thinking that the best solution here is gonna be to get the traction mats off the roof. Concern is going forward going forward it’s nothing but rocks here and this is supposed to be the easiest part of the trail here. Hey James! What do we get ourselves into?

James: we got ourselves into a mess, a big mess!

Kelly: now as long as I can get some traction on that traction board I should be okay. If I can’t get traction James may have to pull me off this rock.

All right so I’m still stuck. what I’ve got to figure out is a way to get a little bit more traction on this other side so that I can either pull myself up or back off. and so I’ve taken another traction board and I’ve shoved it up underneath the tire there. the hope is I will get enough traction that I can back myself up and not be high centered anymore and then we can figure out how to proceed down this hellacious trail that we’re on. this is the easiest kind of trail by the way! got to reiterate that it! it’s going gonna be a long day… all right let’s give it a try.

James: you want me to get my jerk strap out and just slowly pull you from the back?

Kelly: yeah

All right we’ve tried the traction boards are they’re not going to get it so we can either winch ourselves out or we can have James just give me a pull with a jerk strap. So now we’re just going to have James give me a pull.

James: I think we got a little cocky. I think we got a little high and mighty and said, “no, we’ll be fine, we’ve seen other vehicles of about our caliber come out and do this.” 

Kelly: yep and this is the first obstacle we’ve hit.

James: we already high sided a vehicle. There doesn’t appear to be any major damage as we were inspecting the underside so we got off lucky there.

Kelly: yeah I agree. I think we got a little cocky on this one. I think we probably should have  been spotting each other and it’s a good lesson for people to learn that when you come out here. you have to be humble on these trails because they’ll jump up and bite you. the traction board didn’t work. we tried it on both sides. we tried stuffing rocks in there. we tried rocking it front and back. nothing worked! the only other option we really had at that point was either to winch ourselves out or have you pull me out – but having you pull me out depends on me having a partner here with me on the trail. So good lesson to always drive with a buddy.

James: you’re at the rock, give her some gas… there you go.

Voiceover: licking our wounds from the very first trail of the day we regrouped and plotted a course for some other trails at the park. It wasn’t long until we reached our next obstacle… or at least so we thought.

Kelly: what’s the matter big boy?

James: I’m scared. I’m really scared!

Voiceover: to be fair James recently sank his Xterra in a mud hole out at Northwest OHV that looked completely fine but ended up swallowing his entire car. A couple thousand dollars later and a whole lot of time spent cleaning out every body panel and interior carpet, James is much more careful now when wading through water of unknown depth.

Kelly: so James here is contemplating the meaning of life and by that I mean whether he wants to cross this water crossing. I think it’s gonna be a little bit muddy. 

James: I think it’ll be muddy too. All this rain that we’ve been having and as wet as this already looks off on the left here.

Kelly: I’m gonna do the old toss a rock into the pool trick here just get a sense for how deep it is. So let’s see what it sounds like. That looks about six to eight inches to me.

James: I think it’s doable.

Kelly: so James here is doing something pretty smart. He’s going to take his jerk strap and hook up to the back of his car so that if he gets stuck it’ll be easier for him to just toss that jerk strap back to me and then I can pull him out of the depth.

Voiceover: all right so clearly we over thought this. I mean the water wasn’t that deep and we ended up going off to the side anyway to avoid the deepest part of the water but you know what… better safe than sorry!

Having learned from our experience earlier in the day we resorted to spotting each other like responsible human beings.

Kelly: okay you’re gonna feel a rock but don’t worry about it.  And slowly you’re gonna hit the rock on your back right but you’re clear up here.

James: so turn hard and stop and I’m thinking you just follow that lineup all day. Swing wide. There you go.

Voiceover: the symbolism of the Texas flag stuck in the rock was not lost on us. It was like we were planting our flag just by making it down one single trail. We enjoyed a few moments discussing the day… getting stuck, the challenging nature of Wolf Caves… but our time here was closing and it was time to head for the gate.

Nothing washes down a hard day on the trail like a cold beer so James and I returned to camp at Dos Rios on the Llano River to reminisce on our adventures of the day at Wolf Caves.

Kelly: Wolf Caves today – that was intense!

James: usually there’s a lot of like very beginners level stuff and then very high-end level stuff and I feel like that one just kind of throws you straight into what I would call like the mediums of most parks.

Kelly: we’ve been to several of the parks now and I was surprised at how extreme a lot of the trails were. so we got stuck today and  that sucks… but you know it’s just part of wheeling. we managed to recover. we got out it was  you know we didn’t wreck any vehicles. we’re still able to drive everything. you know, compared to other parks in Texas  you know their easy trails are harder than other parks and their hard trails are way harder. the way I would describe Wolf Caves… it’s a rock crawling park versus an off-road park like Hidden Falls or Northwest OHV. I mean there were trails out there that like you said it was literally a vertical wall. I think you know for anybody that’s thinking about going out to Wolf Caves, I mean I would say first and foremost it’s a rock crawling park. you know for people like us that are in SUVs… like you’re gonna have a tough time out there. you know it’s aggressive… 

James: you need to have some kind of really aggressive vehicle to tackle most of the trails. 

Kelly: right it’s very technical. And you know you just need to be ready for that. You definitely need a spotter and I would definitely recommend that you bring some recovery gear. I had a great time!

James: I had a fantastic time it was just difficult!

Kelly: yeah it was it was in butt puckering and tense and fun and exciting all-in-one. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve worked up an appetite. We need to get this fire burning because we got some big old steaks that we need to cook tonight. And it’s getting down to 28 degrees tonight.

James: it gonna be cold!

Kelly: it’s gonna be chilly! Cheers! Good day on the trail