RV Trip 10.11 – Kickapoo Cavern SP, Seminole Canyon SP – Feb 10-18, 2023

In order to go on the Cavern tour (which is guided) you need to go to Kickapoo Cavern SP for the weekend, the tour is only done on Saturday. We checked in on Friday and on Saturday morning did a short 3 km hike on the Seargeant Major trail and around the campground. It was called Seargeant as that was the ranch family that had owned the property from the 1920’s through to the 1980’s. It was donated to the state for a park in 1986 but didn’t actually open until 2010 so it is the newest of the Texas state Parks. The Seargeant family raised sheep and goats and built a network of piping and windmills to have water for the animals. They also removed the cedar trees to raise the water level (cedar trees use lots of water) so grasses could grow. There are some Pinyon Pines now growing and this is one of the most southerly locations where they grow. The one photo also shows a dipping vat which was used to treat the animals for ticks and parasites.

The cavern tour started at 1 pm and there were 9 people on it (max is 10). Ashley the ranger had us get a caving helmet, which we attached our headlamp to, and then drove us in a van back to the park entrance where we took a very bumpy rock road to get to the cavern. The cactus and brush along the road kept scratching the van and it sounded like someone scratching their nails on a chalkboard. Ashley went through the safety aspects before entering the cavern since the hike inside was basically boulder scrambling with a flashlight in your hands.  She warned us animals can get in the cave and if there was one certain animal in the cave the tour would be cancelled.  There were lots of guesses…the answer, a skunk!!  Luckily no skunks. We first climbed up a fairly steep hill to get to the entrance to the cave. The park had replaced the gate that the Seargeant’s had used to control access so the bars had wider openings so animals could go in and out of the cave. The overall opening was too small for bats as they need to circle to fly out of a larger opening but in the park they have Stuart Cave which does have bats from the spring through the fall. As we climbed down through the entrance you could immediately start feeling the humidity in the cave. The temperature is a constant 78F with high humidity which I was glad they had pre told us so we could wear lighter clothes. Our heads were sweating with the helmets on as we proceeded into the cave. This cave is what they call a dead cave, in other words there isn’t any moisture dripping, so the formations will not change over time. The formations we saw dated back 4 million years! Since it was a dead cave we were allowed to touch formations, which was a good thing as you needed 3 point balance as you climbed over the boulders. There were also some connected caverns that were live but they don’t allow people to go into those so they can continue to form. The 2 main features in the cave are the massive columns (1 was 8 stories tall!) and the Helictite’s which formed when the cave was alive, and wind blew the formations as they were dripping. We explored for about 2 hours inside the cave and there were even small vent tubes you could climb in and out of. The tour was awesome but we were blown away that they didn’t require us to sign some sort of liability waiver to do this exploring. Just when we left the cave Ashley spotted a Black Scorpion (they live in the cave) and they have an iridescence when you shine the light on them. This tour was really worthwhile😉

The next day was Superbowl Sunday and the park cleared out and for awhile we were the only ones there.  We did some Mountain Bike riding on the Pine Canyon Loop and Vireo Vista trail.  At one point it got pretty rocky so Sharon took the easy route back and I continued on The Long Way Home Trail.  Good thing I did as I saw a coyote on the trail and some of the old farm equipment and buildings.  In the afternoon we decided to ride the road to Stuart Bat Cave.  There are no bats at this time of year, but we could check out the cave opening, and unfortunately you could really smell there had been bats there! The bats will return in the spring to have their babies.  We took the Long Way Home Trail back past an old water tank and through creeks beds.  By the end of the day I had done 26.4 kms and Sharon 14 kms.

Seminole Canyon SP was a repeat Texas State Park for us as it was one of our favourite parks.  We read our blog from 2017 (2017 Seminole Canyon SP Blog) and realized we’d be doing some of the same things. 

I did spend a few hours the first day working with Telus to get my phone to stop roaming to Mexico.  We were very close and I kept randomly picking up Telcel.  Sharon’s phone was only getting T-Mobile.  It was important to get this resolved as they charge you $15/day if you hit the Mexico tower.

Last time we biked and hiked the canyon, this time we hiked first and biked the second day.  The biggest change was the water level where the Rio Grande meets Seminole Canyon, the lack of rain certainly shows.  Also, a huge amount of vegetation was growing along the Rio Grande looking like it could choke off the river at some stage! They used to be able to take boats down the canyon and stop to see the Panther Cave Pictographs, today the ranger said you can hardly do it in a canoe.  The trees had grown and were covering most of the 9 ft Panther so all we could see was the tail. Last time we were later in the season, so the flowers were blooming, unfortunately this event hasn’t started yet.  Even though it was hot, we wore pants both days to avoid the sharp cactus that were close to the trails.  Both days the trip was just over 13 kms and both days we came back to the RV and enjoyed some warm weather and a beverage😊.

On our third day we were booked for the Fate Bell Pictograph tour at 10 am.  We had a small group of 18 (normally 25), one was a family with 4 kids and the kids asked the greatest questions that entertained the group.  Our first stop was the Maker of Peace sculpture created by Bill Worrell as a tribute to the Desert Archaic people.  You then walk down into the canyon on uneven steps to get to the shelters.  Unfortunately, the stairs were a bit much for one person as she passed out during the talk in the first shelter.  Luckily the mother of the kids was an EMT so she was in good hands.  We all waited in the canyon and once the park medical staff arrived to escort her back out, we continued on our tour. The pictographs date from 4200 years old to the youngest at 1500 years old. The ranger had a laser pointer and described what the researchers believed the paintings meant.

After the tour we did the short Windmill Nature Trail before heading back to the RV.  Since we had several days we took some time for R&R and did the museum the next day.  Nothing has changed in the museum which had the history of the pictographs, railway, and ranching in the area.

We had noticed a pamphlet on a Van-tastic tour of railroad history so opted to add a day (had to move sites for the one night) and stay so we could check out the tour.  We had no camping reservations past Seminole so didn’t have to be anywhere.   We were on the inaugural tour, they were trying out something new.   In 1883 they built the Southern Railroad through what is now Seminole Canyon SP.  This historic railway connected the east and the west. Once completed, the railway was only used for 10 years when the engineering technology for train bridges improved, and they decided to move the tracks further north.  They basically took all the material and used it in the new location.  All that remained of the tracks were the raised rail beds. We drove to the park entrance, and they pointed out where the old train tracks were, you could certainly see it. Our first stop was the Black Horse Shelter.  This was an area where they stored their blasting powder behind a wall of rock, taking advantage of the flat wall and overhang.  There were some pictographs in the shelter, but they were very faded, they also had historic graffiti, the black horse being the largest of them.  In this area and all around the park you also find “historic” artifacts like rusty tins, broken glass and pottery shards.  They leave these as part of the history.  We passed the drainage tunnel under the railbed before stopping at the old rock oven.  We had seen both of these while walking to the visitors center but now got the history of the oven.  The oven was moved from its original location when a new highway was built near the park.  They labelled each stone and then attempted to put it back together.  They said the park builders weren’t as good as the original stone masons since they had to reinforce it with some steal and wood.  They built the oven in the camps of the rail workers and used them to make bread.  Since they were asking for our input on this tour, we suggested it would be nice to have some fresh made bread at this point😉 Our last stop was down the Rio Grande trail.  We parked the van and headed inland a bit to an old blacksmith forge.  We enjoyed getting all the extra history and hope they continue the tour.

I’ll finish this blog with my next beer selection. I bought a sampler pack from Saint Arnold but really only 1 of the 4 beers was any good the IPA, the rest were too light with little flavour, not all craft beers are winners.  

IPA was good

Seminole Canyon was one of our longest stays at a State Park on this trip at 6 nights.  We did take some time to do some research and plan our next few stops as we had amazing internet access, surprising for such a remote location. If you like hiking, biking, history, and scenery this is a great park to visit, that’s why it surprised us that many people make this just a 1-night stop location on the way to Big Bend, they are really missing out!


  • Finally! I’ve caught up in 3 readings!!!!! I’ve never seen a toilet cactus before……and I couldn’t watch the video of you driving on the highway to Garner. It started a dizzy spell! 😵

    Here’s some running commentary through reading all your blogs (which I REALLY enjoyed!) Ugh to the mosquitoes, double ugh to wasps in the fan, beer at over 11% alcohol? 😵‍💫 blasted duck hunters, loved the leaf cutter ants! Joel – did you really eat a drum fish? And that bag of food from Smittys Market looked like it had 6 meals inside of it. Loved that Flintstones rib Joel! 👀 Did Sharon buy the Sell Husband for Chocolate sign? 😁.

    Now I’m caught up and stay caught up! Lots of hugs to you both and safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for all your comments Ella. It must have taken a big chunk of time to catch up but it sounds like you enjoyed it. We’ve been offline for 4 days in the back country of Big Bend Ranch SP. Very scenic and amazing night skies. That will be in the next blog.


    • Ok good catch Danny, I will correct next time I get a chance. We’ve been offline for 4 days in the back country of Big Bend Ranch SP.


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