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Pictographs: 10K Years of Seminole Canyon State Park’s History in Paintings

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As far back as 10,000 years ago, hunters and gatherers in what’s now considered Southwest Texas took shelter in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands. This area, which was formed by the Rio Grande, Pecos, and Devils rivers, offered shade and a safe haven on the outer limits of the Chihuahuan Desert. And you know as well as we do that once you pick a place to live, the next thing you do is decorate it…so imagine what lies on the rock walls in the shelters among the Canyonlands. That’s right: paintings of a long ago time, featuring symbolism, life stories, and perhaps everyday art.

Pictographs: Ten Thousand Years of Seminole Canyon State Park’s History in Paintings

Photo: Facebook/Texasbooklover

The Lower Pecos River Archeological region, as it’s named, encompasses an area of roughly fifty square miles. Within this area, over 2,000 archeological sites have been monitored and recorded, including approximately 325 pictograph sites in the Lower Pecos that are all within a 90-mile radius of where the Rio Grande and the Pecos Rivers meet. Public sites are available for viewing in this area, where literally hundreds of images remain, which have both bewildered and amazed all modern-day audiences that have laid eyes on them.

Pictographs: Ten Thousand Years of Seminole Canyon State Park’s History in Paintings

Photo: Facebook/Taylor Reilly

Offering rock art enthusiasts one of the most comprehensive locations in the region, Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site features a campground, bookstore, and interpretive center for pictograph viewing and questions. Wednesday through Sunday, two times per day, guided tours are provided to the Fate Bell and Fate Bell Annex pictograph sites. A one-hour hiking tour, it’s considered less remote and less strenuous.

Pictographs: Ten Thousand Years of Seminole Canyon State Park’s History in Paintings
Photo: Facebook/Greg’s Texas

Additional guided tours are available to sites in the farther reaches of the park. However, these are irregular in availability and require an additional fee as well as advance reservations. They consist of eight hours of great exertion, hiking and climbing on the Presa Canyon Tour. The reward, however, is the rare chance to visit many of the park’s pictograph sites that are customarily closed to the public. In addition to the eight-hour hike, there is another intermittently offered tour called the Upper Canyon which takes approximately two hours, is a moderate-to-advanced hike, and includes two stops at pictograph sites as well as various 19th-century railroad locates. If you’re planning a trip to Seminole Canyon, please contact the park in advance for more information, including hike times and reservations that may be required. Call (432) 292-4464 or visit their website for details.

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