Located at 16710 Ranch Road is one of Fredericksburg, Texas's attractions called Enchanted Rock State Park. The park has 1643 acres of land running along Big Sandy Creek in the northern section of town. It borders Gillespie and Llano Counties. The deed to create it as a natural park came in 1978 by the Nature Conservancy of Texas Inc., when they received the land from the Moss Family. Eventually the state took over the running of the park in 1984. They closed the park for a few months in order to add facilities.
The history of the land predates the park by 11,000 years. Humans used the land, most likely early Native Americans as a place to live, find food, and just survive. In 1970 the Enchanted Rock that is on the land was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark and adopted in the National Register in 1984. The rock is pink granite that creates a dome rising over 425 feet, placing it at 1825 feet above sea level and over 640 acres large. It is considered batholiths because it was an underground rock formation that eventually became uncovered by erosion.
The Tonkawa Indians believed that ghost fires would flicker on top of the rocks because they heard creaking and groaning noises. Geologists, however, consider this to be the noises of the rock cooling and contracting after a hot day in the sun.
Park popularity typically means the parking capacity is reached frequently on the weekends. A lot of the time the park has to close around 11am and reopen at 5pm due to the over population of the park. It is best to call ahead before visiting the landmark to ensure the park is actually open.
As a natural reserve there are plenty of activities for the visitors to Enchanted Rock. Backpacking, camping, hiking, rock climbing, and bird watching are just a few options. There are also areas for picnics, geological studies, and star gazing. There is a minimal amount of pollution in the air from the surrounding town, but this does not usually affect the star gazing options.
Visitors are asked not to disturb the wildlife or plant life that is within the park. The geological features, Indian and historical artifacts should also remain undisturbed. The park is under state law, meaning visitors can be prosecuted for damaging the land and anything found on or in the land.
The facilities built at the park include restrooms with showers, walk in water sites, tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, and hiking trails to various sites. There are grills at the camping areas for use during the day. One short steep trail leads to the top of the Enchanted Rock, but foot traffic is only allowed. It is harder for wheelchairs to get to the top based on the trail. There is an interpretive center on site and a Texas State Park Store for souvenirs. Camping is by tent only as there are no facilities for RV's. Entrance fees are $6 per day.
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