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Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Welcome

Enchanted Rock (16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg TX) is an enormous pink granite pluton rock formation located in the Llano Uplift approximately 15 miles north of Fredericksburg, Texas, USA and 15 miles south of Llano, Texas. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, which includes Enchanted Rock and surrounding land, spans the border between Gillespie County and Llano County, south of the Llano River.

Enchanted Rock covers approximately 640 acres and rises approximately 425 feet above the surrounding terrain to elevation of 1,825 feet above sea level. It is the largest such pink granite monadnock in the United States.  Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a part of the Texas state park system, includes 1,644 acres. Designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1936.


16710 Ranch Rd 965
Fredericksburg TX 78624

Phone: 830/685-3636

Elevation: 1,825 feet.


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History:
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area consists of 1643.5 acres on Big Sandy Creek, north of Fredericksburg, 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, but humans have visited here for over 11,000 years.

Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The Rock is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, 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.

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.

NONOTE: The park reaches capacity (in terms of parking) and frequently closes on weekends (sometimes as early as 11 a.m.) Reopening usually occurs at 5 p.m. Call ahead or have alternate plans if you arrive at the park and find it closed.

Activities:
Visitors can enjoy primitive backpacking, camping, hiking, technical and rock climbing, picnicking, geological study, bird watching, and star gazing (minimal light pollution). Remember, at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, do not disturb plant or animal life, geological features, or Indian or historical artifacts.  These park resources are protected by law!  Bring your own firewood.  Rock climbers must check in at headquarters; route maps and climbing rules available.

Area Attraction
Other nearby parks in this scenic area include Pedernales Falls State Park, Blanco State Park, Guadalupe River State Park, Kerrville-Schreiner Park, Inks Lake State Park, and Longhorn Cavern State Park; Lyndon B. Johnson State Historic Site, with the Sauer-Beckmann living history farmstead, and the adjacent LBJ National Park; the Johnson Birthplace; and the family cemetery, where the former President is buried; and the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site - National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. You may want to refer to nearby Lower Colorado River Authority parks.

Facilities
Facilities include restrooms with showers; walk-in water sites (25 to 100 yards) with tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, and water and restrooms with showers nearby; hike-in primitive sites, located in three unique areas with composting toilets (backpack camping in designated areas only); picnic sites for day-use with tables and grills; a group picnic area with a pavilion and restrooms; a 4-mile trail for backpacking/day hiking that winds around the granite formations; a short, steep trail leading up to the top of Enchanted Rock (foot traffic only); an interpretive center; and a Texas State Park Store. No facilities are available for vehicular camping of any type.

Natural Features:
The four major plant communities of Enchanted Rock are open oak woodland, mesquite grassland, floodplain, and granite rock community. Live oak, post oak, and blackjack oak dominate the oak woodland, with black hickory in moister areas. Common shrubs are Texas persimmon, agarita, white brush, and prickly pear. Bluestem, three-awn, and grama grass often are found in the shade of the oaks, while American tripogon is more common on gravely slopes which are seasonally wet. The mesquite grassland, once an area of bluestem, is now covered with three-awn, grama, Texas wintergrass, panicum, and sand bur, along with invading mesquite.

Elm, pecan, hackberry, black hickory, soapberry, and oak characterize the floodplains. Common shrubs are white buckeye, agarita, Texas persimmon, Roosevelt weed, and buttonbush. Grasses and sedges, as well as annual and perennial herbs, form the ground cover. Some of these are water bentgrass, late eupatorium, Indiangrass, bushybeard bluestem, frost weed, and switchgrass. In the spring bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, yellow coreopsis, bladderpod, and basin bellflower bloom.

Both rock and fox squirrels are common, as are armadillos, rabbits, and other small animals. Lizards and turkey vultures are conspicuous on and above the rock year-round. White-tailed deer are frequently observed, and the park's bird life is varied and abundant. A bird checklist for the park is available upon request.

Directions:
The park is 18 miles north of Fredericksburg on Ranch Road 965, or from Llano, take State Highway 16 for 14 miles south and then go west on Ranch Road 965.

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