An open desert landscape provides stunning sunsets and magical moonrises over a historical canyon adorned with pictographs of the native tribes from times ago.

We set off from Austin to Big Bend, a 7 hour drive with no stops. Some advice had wizened us to the idea of staying in a state park along the way. Balmorrhea had already been visited by our fearless driver and so we set our eyes and our GPS on Seminole Canyon State Park.

Settled just near the Mexico-US border, the drive to the park is surrounded by desert and small towns that seem reminiscent of a movie I can't put a name to. From the moment we stepped out of our vehicle the desert was there. Prickly plants poked at my chaco- exposed-toes and black widows perched at the sign where we took the obligatory photos. Arriving just after closing, we stopped at self registration and gazed at the canyon itself. 

Down beneath the visitors center the canyon had been carved out from the desert landscape. From the start of the Windmill trail, we could see where Native Americans would hunt on the side opposite ours, driving buffalo over the edge into the occupied canyon floor below. The trail that takes you into the Fate Bell Pictograph site is only accessible by guided hike on certain days of the week, so call ahead if this is something you want to build your trip around. 

Moving to the campsites we drove through the RV parking area with campgrounds that offer bathrooms, water, and some shelters with picnic benches for a per night charge of $14-$20. As it was just a one night stay for us we decided to opt for one of the drive up primitive sites, with a picnic table, fire ring, and oh-so-rocky tent area. It was quiet, with just one other camper a few sites down in the primitive area. They only have 46 campsites, so call or book ahead of time if your traveling in their busy months--March, April, & May. 

Walking up to catch the sunset, we talked with several retired couples-the majority of the RV demographic that night-who had plans to drive to Big Bend in the morning and had repeated the drive there each year; stopping here in Seminole each time. 

A trail (Rio Grande Trail) began just near our campsite spanning 6 miles, it was more than we had time for before dark and too long a time to spend before hitting the road the next day. A surprisingly expansive trail system winds around the canyon rim, down to the Rio Grande offering (as the map tells me) scenic overlooks. (Trail Map).

For us though, the best sight was seen after the sun had set. Above the mountains nearest our campsite, we started to see a glow form as the stars deepened their shimmers in the sky above. Moonlight spilled out across the desert as the moon rose with an orange hue. 

On your way out of the park be sure to check out the Pecos River Bridge in Langtry, TX. Standing 275' high over the water, you can pull over catch some beautiful views. 

Pack List

  • Tent- Aside from the occasional lantern post or shelter in the campsite, theres not much to hang a hammock on. Speaking as a usual hammock camper, I'd bring along your tent for this one. 
  • Sleeping pad- Even with the primitive camping areas being cleared, the ground is pretty rocky and theres some spiky plants growing across the ground. Your body will thank you for this one! 
  • Warm sleeping bag- We were there in Mid-october and ended up sleeping outside of the tent in a truck bed. I was plenty warm and really only had to deal with a few mosquitos. 
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Activities Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Easy Parking


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