Texas Pecos Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Pecos Trail Rock Artists

The Pecos Trail Region’s namesake, the Pecos River, weaves its way through a region known better for its rugged badlands and dry, isolated canyons than for any evidence of a wet, green oasis. But the Pecos River provides just that, a source of life where hidden springs and riparian shores sustained a lively, vibrant ecosystem. But plants and wildlife haven’t been the only beneficiaries. Humans also occupied the canyons and cliffs that comprise the Pecos River corridor, spending thousands of years hunting, farming, and surviving. These early residents also created a catalogue of symbols describing their inner world as well, leaving a visual archive of pictographs across the walls of their rock shelters and inhabited sites.

The Pecos Trail Region is rich in rock art and many of the best sites are open to heritage travelers including Seminole Canyon State Park, perhaps the most well-known pictograph site in the state. The park’s Fate Bell Shelter, a short but steep hike down the side of the canyon, provides an up-close view of paintings, including remarkable shaman-like figures, across a large shelter above the canyon floor. Special tours also include Presa Canyon and Upper Seminole (prepare for a strenuous hike) where visitors may see pictographs in places normally closed to the public. Across Highway 90 from the park entrance, the Rock Art Foundation provides tours of the White Shaman Preserve, a pictograph site featuring a stunning figure composed of white pigment inhabiting a small shelter in the face of a cliff far above the Pecos River. The Foundation, steward of some of the finest Lower Pecos style rock art in the country, also sponsors hiking tours to rock art sites like Meyers Springs and Mystic Shelter. In Comstock, the Shumla School offers classes and field trips to schools who want to provide students with an on-site study of the Lower Pecos archeology. Nearby, a surprising amount of rock art was submerged with the construction of Amistad Reservoir. Tours, courtesy of private guides, are available at the National Recreation Area for viewing some of the remaining exposed rock art sites now accessible only by boat. Elsewhere in the region, places like the Crockett County Museum in Ozona and the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio offer an in-depth exploration of the region’s rock art legacy and the people who created it.

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