When you go to Seminole Canyon State Park in Texas the sights are stunning and the campground is awesome. One of the highlights of the area is the Fate Bell Cave Shelter Tour. At Seminole Canyon State Park you can’t go into the Fate Bell Cave Shelter on our own so you’ve got to take a guided tour. Tours are offered most but not every day of the week. You’ll need to check with the park for tour dates and hours but they are usually offered every Wednesday through Sunday. They are generally always offered at 10am and September 1 through May 31st, also offered at 3pm in the afternoon.
The hike down to the Fate Bell cave tour is advertised as “fairly rugged” so you probably won’t want to wear sandals. You’ll need to be in reasonably good shape to walk the entire tour because you’ll be hiking up and down a lot of steps to get in and out. In order to take the tour you’ll need to pay the $5.00 tour fee as well as pay for admission to the park with is $3.00 per person per day (as of April 2010). Bring some water and a camera to get some great photographs of the cave, the pictographs and the stunning views on the trail to and from the cave as well as from in the cave itself.
The tour starts at the Seminole Canon State Park Visitor Center just outside the back entrance to the building. If you don’t have water with you when you get there you can buy a bottle or fill one and also choose from a selection of snacks for sale at the visitor center if you need something to tide you over. Once the tour is ready to start your guide will provide an overview of the area and the cave the rock art and the area you are about to see. Just like caves, caverns and ruins in the national parks you will be informed that you may not touch the rock art or take anything from the area.
Once the hiking part of the tour starts you will walk past a bronze statue of an Indian Shaman and then onto the steps that will take you down to the canyon and the Fate Bell rock shelter. You’ll walk past a number of desert plants on the way down. At some the group will stop and the guide will provide information about the specific plant and how it was and may still be used by native cultures for food, medicine and/or basic tools critical to the people who once lived in the area. As you walk down the steps you will start to get great views of the canyon and pretty soon see the Fate Bell Shelter off to the right of the trail.
Once you get down to the canyon floor you will have a little hike back up to the Fate Bell Cave Shelter. The cave shelter itself is HUGE and you will start to see some rock art from a distance. There are mats in the cave on which you will need to remain so as not to stir up to much dust which can have adverse affects on the rock art in the shelter.
As you walk up into the Fate Bell Cave Shelter you will see more and more pictographs that line the walls of the cave. In order to protect the rock art you will not be able to get really close to the pictographs but you will be able to get close enough to get excellent views of them. As far as photos go it helps to have a camera with some zoom capabilities but you don’t need anything too powerful.
Many of the pictographs will have signs in front of them to provide supplemental information in addition to that provided by the tour guide. As you walk into and along the edge of the Fate Bell shelter be sure to take a few moments to look out from the canyon to take in the stunning views the people who once lived here were able to enjoy on a daily basis.
On clear days the view are absolutely stunning while on overcast or cloudy days they are merely excellent. Once the cave tour is over you will retrace your steps back along the outside edge of the Fate Bell Cave Shelter along the mats in the cave, go back down to the canyon floor and then hike back up to the visitor center where the tour of the Fate Bell Cave Shelter began.
The entire tour will take about an hour and you’ll have the opportunity to see a fair amount of rock art up close. Panther Cave is the other major cave at Seminole Canyon State Park. With a hike along the Rio Grand River Trail you will be able to see Panther Cave. With a good telephoto lens you will be able to take photos of the pictographs inside Panther Cave but if you want to actually go on a tour of Panther Cave you’ll have to take a boat out there at a cost of around $200.00.
When you visit Seminole Canyon State Park for the Fate Bell Cave tour you can stay in Del Rio near the Amistad National Recreation Area about 25 miles away or you can camp right in Seminole Canyon State Park. The campground is excellent and has showers, water and electricity as well as wi-fi (yes wi-fi!) in the campground. For more information on the Seminole Canyon State Park Campground be sure to read the review here on the SkiAnything.com site!