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Seminole Canyon is one cool Texas State Park

February 16, 2011

I have Bill and Lil Eubanks to thank for telling me about Seminole Canyon State Park here in Texas.  At first glance it is looks quite dry, prickly, and inhospitable, which it is, with nothing much to offer, which its not, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here.  I arrived yesterday afternoon, set up my site in the campground located atop a small hill with views all around including the 3-4 miles to Mexico.  Misty was extremely hot, poor girl, so I did the best I could to cool her down and make her comfortable, but even still, she was not the least impressed with the gorgeous sunset seen from our site.

This morning I took the tour of Seminole Canyon which included Fate Bell Shelter and the pictographs therein and I’m pleased to report that I found the tour most interesting and the pictographs impressive though they have been severely damaged by both the elements and man.  In a nutshell, the Fate Bell Shelter was used for 8,000 years by the hunters and gatherers of the area dating back to 7,000 bc to 1,500 ad.  Cool, huh?  For anyone interested in learning more, click here http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bbf01

Down canyon near its mouth at the Rio Grande, there is another shelter called the Panther Shelter with quite stunning pictographs which are some of the best in North America, or so I read.  Tours are not offered to this shelter, but I was able to spy the drawings through my binocs when I was down at the confluence of Seminole Canyon and The Rio Grand River.

Here are some shots from the guided tour.

This sculpture greeted us as we began our descent into the Canyon and was influenced by the people and the drawings of the Canyon.

Seminole Canyon is dry except during flash floods.   The long tan opening in the wall is the Fate Bell Shelter.  The darker opening to its right is referred to as the Annex.

Here are some of the pictographs.

Looking up canyon from Fate Bell.

Once back up toward the top, I took a side trail over to the Springs with a couple of folks from the tour.  I had just asked about poisonous snakes and was told that there are 4 types of rattlesnakes in the park when I both stepped and looked down just in time to see a snake slithering away from my foot.  I couldn’t help it, but I jumped and screamed like a girl.  How lame.  Anyway, please take a look at the mild mannered garter snake that had me in a tizzy.  Thanks goodness it wasn’t a rattler.  Oh my.  After living in Alaska for so many years, I am not accustomed to having to think about snakes and spiders and scorpions etc.

After lunch I rode my bike out to the confluence of Seminole Canyon and the Rio Grande River.  Very cool.  You’ll notice the water is a pretty blue/green and that there is lots of it.  This is NOT naturally occurring, but a byproduct of the dam which created the nearby Amistad Reservoir.  What you are seeing is actually backed up lake water.  The canyon walls here are 160ft tall and the water is about 100 ft deep.  It is my understanding that the Rio Grande is really quite brown and muddy and sluggish due to lack of rain over the past 20 years.  I’ll get to see for myself when I get to Big Bend, but for now, this was quite pretty.

Here is a google map of the area.
View Seminole Canyon, Texas in a larger map

This is looking up Seminole Canyon just up from the confluence.  Look back up at the photo just after the sculpture and you’ll see the same canyon in its natural state.  Remember this water is lake water and is only here due to the dam.

And here is the mouth of Seminole Canyon meeting the Rio Grande River with Mexico in the background.  Don’t you like this picture?  I do.  It’s so arty looking through the pricker bush, don’t you think?  The Panther Shelter I referred to earlier is just outside the frame to the left.

And here’s the Rio Grande River looking upriver.

And here we have prickly pear cactus, yucca, and whatever that spiney-thorney thing is.  Pretty standard fare as far as the eye can see.

And on a completely different note and in a different part of the Park, the Southern Pacific Railroad was built through this area before being abandoned in 1892.  Here are the remains of a stone bake oven used by the construction workers during 1882.  The top of the arch is about chest high.

That’s it for Seminole Canyon State Park.

Stay tuned for Big Bend National Park, which I’m told has three main regions:  River, Desert, and Mountain.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lil Eubanks permalink
    February 17, 2011 10:50 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as we did!

  2. Devin permalink
    February 18, 2011 12:22 pm

    Wow! This is a pretty awesome place. I wouldn’t have even known about it if not for you. Thanks for sharing and as always, love the photos.

  3. Suzanne permalink
    February 19, 2011 11:16 am

    Very cool stuff! Really puts things in perspective when you see pictographs from long, long ago…..

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