Day Trips: Rock Art

If these walls could talk


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Pictographs left on the walls of rock shelters by prehistoric and historic people are some of the greatest treasures in Texas. The state has a large and diverse collection of rock art scattered around West Texas.

The artwork can be found from Paint Rock near San Angelo to the Rio Grande, but most of it is hidden away on private property. That is why it is such a special treat when the Witte Museum opens to guided tours its White Shaman Preserve outside of Comstock.


In the ancient societies (5,000 to 10,000 years ago) that occupied the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, the shaman was an important deity or medicine man who could possibly influence the weather and hunting. The meaning of the symbols is lost to modern eyes.

While shamans appear in cave drawings at multiple locations, the white, red, black, and yellow White Shaman is one of the more distinctive. It gets its name from the rare use of white paint.

The 30-minute hike to the White Shaman mural climbs over a rough trail. From the vantage point of the rock shelter, the Pecos River winds below and the Highway 90 bridge is in the distance.


White Shaman Preserve tours happen every Saturday, weather permitting, September to May. Tour groups are limited to 20 hikers and are not appropriate for children under 12 years old. Participants must preregister at www.wittemuseum.org/rock-art-tour-calendar. Rangers at Seminole Canyon State Park, also lead tours to their collection of rock art, Wednesdays through Sundays in September. For an overview of the mysterious people who made the rock art, visit the People of the Pecos Gallery at the Witte Museum in San Antonio.


1,466th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Pictographs, rock art, prehistoric art, Paint Rock, Witte Museum, Lower Pecos Canyonlands, White Shaman Preserve, Comstock, Seminole Canyon State Park, People of the Pecos gallery

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