Know Before You Go
Enchanted Rock stays busy all year, but I enjoy Fall through Spring, especially January and February as the best times to visit. The rock gets HOT!
One of the busiest state parks, day use reservations are almost mandatory.
Wear closed toed shoes with a good grip, and long pants are suggested.
Take plenty of water!
As of 2016, dogs are not allowed on the Summit Trail, or any elevated surfaces.
A hiking pole can be very helpful, if you have one. I really appreciate my trekking poles at Enchanted Rock.
It’s easy to let time get away from you while exploring all the little rock caves, pack a flashlight just in case.
This past weekend my youngest son’s boy scout troop visited Enchanted Rock to hike to the Summit. Enchanted Rock is no stranger to us, and I wasn’t concerned as I watched them ascend up the heavily populated trail to the top of Texas’ largest batholith, and only second in the United States to the Sierra Nevada Batholith in California. A batholith is a very large, and old granite rock, formed by magma beneath the earth’s crust. Enchanted Rock is believed to be 1.1 billion years old, and encompasses some 62 square miles, with much of the base still underground.
It takes about 30 minutes, at the most, to reach the summit, and there are plenty of interesting formations at the top to explore once there. The troop also packed a lunch for a picnic at the top, something it’s much too hot to do most of the year!
One of the busiest state parks, day passes are required and sell out well ahead of time. Texas State Parks allows you to reserve your day pass 30 days in advance.
The best way to be assured of getting into ER is to spend the night! With it rated an International Dark Sky Park, the campgrounds are usually filled on weekends, so you’ll need to make plans to visit ahead of time. All camping at the park is primitive, with no electricity, RV or car camping. The park also offers primitive backpack camping at two sites. Campsites are available for reservations up to six months in advance. The park often host Star Parties, check their events page for upcoming dates.
Today, as in the past, people are drawn to the giant dome. Humans have inhabited Enchanted Rock and the surrounding area for 11,000 years. The rock’s name comes from the legends of these native Americans. Stories are told of a young maiden, who after watching an attack on her village, threw herself from the top. The groans on summer evenings are supposedly hers. Scientists say the groans is actually the sounds of the rock cooling after a hot day. Try as we have, we are yet to hear the groans, or the “Ghost Lights”, lights that can sometimes be seen coming from the top at night. Experts believe these to be moonlight reflecting off the small pools of water.
I feel that some of the real magic of Enchanted Rock is these amazing pools, which hold incredible ecosystems! Remember Sea Monkeys? These little Fairy Shrimp lie in small, dry depressions in the rock, awaiting rainfall to bring them to life! These huecos are an important food and water source for the animals living on the rock during times of drought, and the park ask that you not walk through them, and doesn’t allow dogs on the Summit Trail to protect them. In West Texas’ Chihuahuan Desert, where water is rare and precious, these huecos often mean the difference in life and death. El Paso’s Hueco Tanks State Park requires all visitors to the park to watch an informative video on the importance of huecos, and how to protect them.
The area surrounding Enchanted Rock was quarried away for use on buildings such as the Texas State Capital and the Gulf Coast jetties. Enchanted Rock was saved in 1978, when Ladybird Johnson asked the Nature Conservancy to purchase the land that was going to be sold for a quarry. The next year the land was deeded to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Thank You again, Ladybird!
My daughter and I stayed at the base of the rock, with our two dogs. Dogs aren’t allowed on any of the elevated trails, as the rocks are rough on their feet and very, very hot, even on cooler days. We hiked the Loop Trail, which I love almost as much as the summit, and my knees appreciate much more. It gives you an incredible view of Enchanted Rock. Without dogs, I also enjoy the base trail and cutting across Turkey Pass, which separates Enchanted Rock from Freshman Mountain. Freshman Mountain is a rock-climbing destination, also.
Here’s a few more pictures from previous visits.
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Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg
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