Commune with nature at Enchanted Rock

During the night, if you listen closely, you might hear the whispers of spirits telling stories of the past. Those whispers, groans and creaks give Enchanted Rock State Natural Area its aura of mystique.Oh, yeah, and there’s that 425-foot, pink batholith jutting out of the ground. Located at 16710 RR 965 between Fredericksburg and Llano, Enchanted Rock casts its spell on modern visitors today just as it did on the Native Americans hundreds of years ago. According to legends surrounding the rock, Tonkawa Indians believed they saw “ghost fires” glowing on top of Enchanted Rock. They revered the massive, creaking mountain of granite as a holy place.

Geologists attribute the noises to the sounds of granite contracting as it cools during the night.

ANCIENT BEAUTY

Enchanted Rock is one of the oldest exposed rocks in North America. Given that it’s more than a billion years old, it’s a good bet the granite has plenty of stories to tell to those who stop to listen.

The 1,643-acre park features plenty of activities, including taking the trek to the top of the rock. If you’re a bit more adventurous, you might even want to try climbing some of the treacherous top-offs among the rock outcroppings.

There are several Enchanted Rock-certified commercial guide services that offer climbing opportunities.

These include:

• Rock-About (rock-about.com)

• Outpost Wilderness Adventures (owa.com)

• Mountain Madness (mtmadness.com)

• John Newcombe Tennis Ranch (newktennis.com)

• Austin Rock Gym (www.austinrockgym.com)

• Camp Eagle (www.campeagle.org)

If you’re not into climbing up the side of a sheer cliff of solid rock, then take a stroll on the seven miles of trails that meander through the wooded park. You’ll find numerous bird species to spy upon along with other wildlife native to the area.

The park grounds include great picnic facilities, so if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a bite under the Texas skies, stop in for a while.

And, of course, the natural area gives you lots of chances to get back to nature through camping, whether you’re into primitive campsites or prefer the ones closer to restrooms and showers.

Because of its popularity (especially during spring and fall months), Enchanted Rock State Natural Area can quickly reach capacity, even sometimes before noon. Park staff reopen the facility as parking spaces become available. It’s a good idea to call ahead and check availability.

Don’t despair if you arrive and it’s full! Spend some time in nearby Llano or Fredericksburg while you wait.

For more information, call (830) 685-3636 or go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us.