Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
If you live in Central Texas and like outdoor recreation, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is an absolute must see. The park covers over 1600 acres and is home to a huge granite dome called Enchanted Rock. There are other granite formations, but Enchanted Rock is the big attraction.
Covering 640 acres and rising over 400 feet, Enchanted Rock is quite a site. It is also quite a hike. The trail to the top goes over granite and through boulders. Once hikers get by a row of huge granite slabs, the trail takes people up the dome. The trail is gentle at times and at other times the rise is like climbing stairs.
Toward the top and at the top of the dome are small vernal pools that catch water. Some of these areas have vegetation including prickly pear cactus and oak trees. It is amazing to see the oaks growing out of what appears to be solid rock with a little sand mixed in.
Just over the top of Enchanted Rock is an area in which slabs of granite that have exfoliated off the dome over time. The slabs and boulders have stacked up on part of the dome and they have formed a series of caves. The entrance to the caves is surrounded by huge boulders and oak trees. The path through the caves has been marked by a series of arrows painted on the rock.
Caving at Enchanted Rock is not very technical, but it certainly is a challenge. There are points at which cavers can stand and there are points that get so narrow people have to belly crawl or slide down on their backsides. It can be very damp in the caves so prepare to get wet and muddy if you go through the cave. It gets very dark in the caves so cavers need flashlights or a headlamp. Headlamps are a good idea so people can work with both hands.
Enchanted Rock is a formation known as a batholith. A batholith is a underground rock formation uncovered by erosion. The formation extends very far underground. As the granite has been exposed to weather over time, slabs of granite and boulders have slid off the dome. In some areas this makes for good bouldering for those who are inclined to climb.
Speaking of climbing, there are areas on the dome and on other formations that provide technical climbers a good opportunity to break out the helmets and ropes. Most of the technical climbing is on the west and northwest side of Enchanted Rock. Other area that provide challenging climbing are on the formations known as Turkey Hooks, Buzzard’s Roost and Little Rock, the other granite dome in the park.
The giant granite dome was named Enchanted Rock because the Tonkawa Indians believed there were ghost fires at the top of the dome. They thought this because they frequently heard cracking and groaning noises from the top of the dome. These sounds were actually caused by the heating and cooling of the dome.
To get to Enchanted, take Ranch Road 96518 miles north of Fredericksburg or 965 south from Llano. The drive is around 2 hours hours from downtown San Antonio and 90 minutes from Austin and makes for an excellent day trip. Visitors should get to the park before 10:00 am as the area can fill up fast. When the parking areas is full, the park is closed until later in the day when people start to leave. Summers can be brutally hot so go during the cooler months and make sure to take water.
Photos will tell readers much more than I can in words so check out some of my Enchanted Rock photos.
See the person on the huge rock in the center? That gives readers a perspective of how large Little Rock is.
Little Rock with exfoliated granite slabs.
Looking toward Little Rock from Enchanted Rock.
My brother between 2 huge Enchanted Rock boulders.
The cave is beneath this pile of exfoliated granite.
It is amazing to see what grows in the cracks of granite.
Check out the view to the northwest.
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