This Old Campsite
This Old Campsite
State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. It is 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, Texas on Ranch Road 965. You can also access the area from the north by taking Highway 16 out of Llano to the south. Then take a right turn onto RR 965 and go 8 miles to the park.
Enchanted Rock is a large pink granite exfoliation dome rock that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States. It is only a small protrusion on a huge grainte mass, the Enchanted Rock Batholith, which solidified deep underground from molten rock about a billion years ago. Uplift of the region, followed by erosion that removed thousands of feet of overlying rock over millions of years, exposed the granite at the surface. Twice buried since by the deposites of inland seas, erosion has again exposed the granite and Enchanted Rock.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area consists of 1643.5 acres on Big Sandy Creek, on the border between Gillespie and Llano Counties. It was acquired by warranty deed in 1978 by the Nature Conservancy of Texas, Inc., from the Moss family. The state acquired it in 1984, added facilities, and reopened the park in March 1984. Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Tonkawa Indians believed ghost fires flickered at the top, and they heard weird creaking and groaning, which geologists now say resulted from the rock's heating by day and contracting in the cool night. A conquistador captured by the Tonkawa described how he escaped by losing himself in the rock area, giving rise to an Indian legend of a "pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own." The Indians believed he wove enchantments on the area, but he explained that the rock wove the spells. "When I was swallowed by the rock, I joined the many spirits who enchant this place." The first well-documented explorations of this area did not begin until 1723 when the Spanish intensified their efforts to colonize Texas. During the mid-1700s, the Spaniards made several trips to the north and northwest of San Antonio, establishing a mission and presidio on the San Saba River and carrying out limited mining on Honey Creek near the Llano River.
Activities include walk-in camping with water (no RVs), primitive camping, group picnic pavilion, picnic areas, 8.4 miles of hiking trails and rock climbing. Rock climbers are not allowed to use bolts, pitons or other rock damaging equipment.
Probably the most popular hike in the park, is the short .6 mile hike up the front of Enchanted Rock. The elevation gain is only 425 feet but it is fairly steep. However, it is worth going to the top for the panoramic views of the surrounding country.
There is a lot of geology and archeology associated with the Enchanted Rock area. It is not in the scope of this article to list those features. If that is what interest you, then you will need to visit the area and see it for yourself.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area makes for a nice day trip. If you are in the area, you will be glad you made the trip whether you hike to the top or not.
Note: Due to limited parking space, the park tends to fill up during busy times, especially on weekends. The park closes when the lot is full. This sometimes occurs as early as 11:30 am but will typically open again around 5 pm. It is a good idea to call ahead during the busy season to make sure there is parking available. The park is open all year.
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