Friday, March 21, 2014

Seminole Canyon, Texas

We stopped here a few years ago, only to find out that the Canyon itself was not open to the public unless you took a 'guided' tour, which was only offered on certain days.  This was reasonable, as so many in the past have left graffiti that often destroyed the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs........along with the natural beauty of the area.
However for us, this meant we drove a long way to get to this State Park and then had nothing to view, so moral of this is not to arrive on the wrong day.  This time however, I called ahead.. Lucky for me they were offering tours daily for the next 2 weeks due to Spring Break campers.

Seminole Canyon is noted for natural caves along a drainage basin of huge proportions, where nomadic people and later Indian tribes left evidence of their lives and thoughts in primitive art.

The word Seminole actually is attributable to the black soldiers that fought some Indians here in the 1800's.  The black troops were called Seminole or Buffalo soldiers.
 The 'canyon' is actually a drainage basin for water running off the rocky land after showers.  We were told, that while this basin is dry most of the time, when a thunderstorm does occur, this basin will fill with 20' of water running down to the Rio Grand.
 Looking South.
This archaeological site is up in the cliffs side, under a large overhang.  Evidence seems to show this site was used for temporary shelter and probably religious ceremonies, but not permanent settlement as was Mesa Verde.

 The art spanned thousands of years and many different tribes or indigenous populations.

The campground itself, was on a hill near a section of the long abandoned Southern Pacific Railway.  This structure was a baking oven used during it's construction in the 1880's was a hundred feet or less from the old rail bed, so assume this was a major camp during construction days and probably because the rail road had to build a wooden bridge over a tributary to the canyon-a time consuming chore.
 I spent several days in Seminole Canyon hiking it's trails.  This one was an 8 mile loop.  A bit over my planned attempts for daily hikes, but I decided to go for it.  At times, the rocky trail and careful footing necessary slowed me down but all and all it was a great day.
 Nature fought its way to sunlight here and there.  Stunted growth but surviving.

 On the trail there were droppings from grey foxes.  They seem to like marking trails for some reason.  All of it was full of javelina hair.  Javelinas, normally nocturnal, seem to be the grey foxes primary food source, although I often saw plenty of cotton tail and mule rabbits.
 Evidence of Petroglyph etchings were found along the hiking trail if you keep your eyes open.  The square is believed to be a representation of their 'world' North, East, South and West.
Also, I noted fossils of sea creatures in rocks in and near the trails. (CLICK TO ENLARGE ANY OF THESE PHOTOS) 
 Sadly, later on I talked with other hikers who took this trail and none of them noticed these..  They seemed hell bent to just 'hike' and talk as if on a treadmill at their local health club.
They really missed a lot!

Viewed here about 3 miles into the hike....the Seminole Canyon, south of the caves leads down towards Mexico and the Rio Grand.

Finally at the Rio Grand looking east.  The river was normally not this full, but a dam was built in the early 70's I believe, down near Del Rio, Texas, creating a reservoirs that now holds the water back.
 Looking west on the Rio Grande.   Native Americans ate the red flowers and when the flowers turned to seeds, as these are now,  they were crushed and used as flour.
 The cliff here is about 60' above the river.  Off on a ledge, I noticed a large cactus, not seen on this hike growing from a crack.  Reddish purple.

 Our rangers or Border Patrol use horses on occasion to check on things.  Out far from the road, was this water troth...I presume for them.
At times, there was a small spot that must hold moisture and here things grew and life seemed to do well.

Seminole Canyon State Park, Texas.


Karen and Tony said...

Beautiful photographs Ron. We've passed by this park but never stopped. Thanks for all the details and descriptions. I would not be able to get down into the canyon but you've given me a nice peek at it!

Ron Sheridan said...

call me(ron sheridan)
not sure where you are, but if you are still in Florida, my condo on St. Pete Beach is vacant as of March 31.and I do not expect to be back for a month or if you wish to chill out in a wonderful place, I am offering it to you totally as a freeO. there is a place to park if you are not longer than 24-25'. I can see if I can help you beyond that. so do not drop the thought.
2 bedroom condo, a block from Gulf, and bay is 20' away. Lot's of good stuff to see in St. Pete.

727-543-7613 ron