I dropped my day pack with a thump and sat down on the smooth, warm, gray ground. I hung my feet over the edge of the United States and looked down to the turquoise water below, then
OK, I know I just made it sound like I finished a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. My hike “all the way to Mexico” was really only about 2.5 miles. But it was beautiful and pretty amazing that my lunch view was of another country.
I unwrapped my sandwich and took in the color that was all around me – deep evergreens, cobalt blue, muted yellows. It was a cool day on this New Year’s Eve hike, but the slate rock reflected the warm sun rays, which soaked into my skin. When I was full, I took advice from my dog and leaned back on my pack for a short nap.
Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site
I was not the first person to find the peace and solitude of this soothing area. Human beings have inhabited the Seminole Canyon region since prehistoric times. Their e
Seminole Canyon State Park is also a Historic Site. Early canyon dwellers left their mark on the land through pictographs, which are still visible today.
To see the pictographs up close, you can take a guided tour into the canyon. Seminole Canyon State Park offers many guided tours; however, I had my dog on this trip and dogs are not allowed on the tours. So I simply viewed them from afar with my zoom lens.
The park hosts guided tours into the canyon that show hikers the rock art. The Fate Bell Shelter Tour, the most popular tour, is offered Wednesdays through Sundays. From Sept. 1 to May 31, the park gives tours at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and from June 1 to August 31, it offers them at only 10 a.m.
The Presa Day Hike explores Seminole Canyon’s tributary Presa Canyon, and the Upper Canyon Hike, explores the upper portion of Seminole Canyon. Hikers can learn of the park’s railroad and military history on the Upper Canyon Hike.
The only access to the inside of the canyon is through a guided tour. I assumed it was to protect the prehistoric and historic artifacts. Costs for the tours range from $8 to $25.
For more information, visit the park’s website. For a map of the park, click here, and for a trail map, click here.
Windmill Nature Trail
If you decide to opt out of the guided tours like I did, there is still plenty to see and do at Seminole Canyon State Park.
The Windmill Nature Trail is 0.75 miles and takes hikers through beautiful scenery and back in time to a spring that has been used by inhabitants of the area since prehistoric times.
It leaves from the Visitor’s Center and drops down into the canyon, just a little bit, before turning and heading back toward the road through a tributary, where the spring resides. Along the hike there are several informative placards telling about the biodiversity of the area.
Being from Arkansas and not the desert, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Landscape of Seminole Canyon
Seminole Canyon State Park flora and fauna is a mixture of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Edwards Plateau
Rio Grande and Canyon Rim Trail Loop
To take in the full aspect of Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site, I chose to hike the Rio Grande Trail and loop it with the Canyon Rim Trail. Seminole Canyon is a tributary to the Rio Grand River, the border between the United States and Mexico. The loop takes you to the confluence of the two rivers.
The total milage for the two trails combined is about 7.5 miles. To trailhead is located at the entrance to the Roadrunner Flat Primitive Camping Area.
The Rio Grande Trail takes hikers through a relatively flat terrain along an old ranching road. It is interesting to see how far you’ve traveled as the campground grows smaller behind you in the flat treeless terrain.
Right around mile 2, the Rio Grande Trail veers to the left, while the end of the Canyon Rim Trail continues strait. I chose to go straight on the Canyon Rim Trail here because it follows the Rio Grande River more.
At mile 2.5 the trail turns to the right and heads toward the west and then to the left toward the cliffs over the Rio Grande. This is where I stopped for lunch.
Follow the trail along the cliffs over the Rio Grande to the confluence of Seminole Canyon. At mile 2.9 there is a short spur trail to an overlook of the Panther Cave Pictograph Site. If you bring binoculars or a telephoto lens, you can zoom in and see the panther pained on the
From there I followed the Rim Trail, which zigzags around the rim of Seminole Canyon. At mile 5.75 there is another short spur trail to the confluence of Presa Canyon. The multicolored cliffs are beautiful and are an amazing reminder of the power of water.
At mile 7.25, you meet back up with the Rio Grande Trail and follow it back to the trailhead.
Camping at Seminole Canyon State Park
There are two great campgrounds at Seminole Canyon State Park – Desert Vista Camping Area and Roadrunner Flat Primitive Camping Area. Both areas are quite nice.
Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site might be a small park, but there is a wealth of exploring to do. It wasn’t until I began looking for a place to go over the New Year’s holiday, that I discovered Seminole Canyon and I’m so glad I found it.
It’s an extremely unique, beautiful and interesting place to explore.
Beautiful. Thanks for bringing this wonderful area to my attention. After reading your article, I’m going to have to make a trip.
Awe, you’re welcome!