A Guide to Visiting Enchanted Rock State Park, TX: A Magical Texas Hill Country Park
April 11, 2021
Hiking to the top of Enchanted Rock is one of the most popular things to do in the park. The rock covers 640 acres and is 1,825 feet above sea level at its tallest! Whether you hike to the top or see it from below, the monolithic rock is fascinating to see and explore.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is also one of the most visited state parks in Texas, seeing 250,000 visitors a year. As a result, reservations are required for entry and often fill up quickly. Day passes go on sale a month in advance with specific time of entry. Mark your calendar 30 days in advance to book your spot!
In addition to day access for hiking in Enchanted Rock, the park also offers camping, rock climbing and stargazing, it is an International Dark Sky Park!
Please make it a priority to Leave No Trace when exploring the outdoors. This includes leaving nothing behind, respecting wildlife, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting those around you, planning ahead and traveling on durable surfaces. For more details, read about the seven principles at lnt.org.
The land surrounding Enchanted Rock has been inhabited by humans for 12,000 years. The Apache, Tonkawa and Comanche Native Americans saw the rock as a spiritual place. As early as the 16th century, Tonkawa people heard the creaking and groaning in the granite as the rock expanded and contracted due to changes in heat and cold. They began to believe spirits haunted the area.
The park opened as a state natural area in 1978 and is a National Natural Landmark along with being on the National Register of Historic Places as an Archeological District. Today, it is home to 400 protected archeological sites.
- Pets are allowed to visit Enchanted Rock but are only allowed on specific trails. They are not allowed on the popular Summit Trail to the top of the rock.
- While you hike on Enchanted Rock, you’ll come across recesses in the rock known as vernal pools. It depends on the time of year and recent rainfall to determine whether these are filled with water, but they are home to fairy shrimp. The shrimp eggs reside there even if the pool is dry. Do not step inside of these pools as you can damage the fragile ecosystems.
- Enchanted Rock at night is magical! It is one of four state parks in Texas designated as an International Dark Sky Park. It’s a beautiful place for stargazing because of its rural location. The park has a dark sky monitor to measure the relative darkness and you can find current readings on the state park website.
- Bring your own drinking water when visiting. As of this writing, there is very limited water available in the park due to an ongoing drought.
Enchanted Rock gets very hot in the summers (averaging a high of 94 in August) and has pretty mild winters. During the coldest month of January, it averages a low of 37 and a high of 61. I visited in February and April and had great weather. April was extra magical thanks to patches of bluebonnets at the base of Enchanted Rock.
Enchanted Rock has 11 miles of trails. You can climb to the top of Enchanted Rock and Little Rock or hike around them both. Here are the top trails that I recommend.
If you are looking to update your hiking gear, check out my day hike packing list for ideas!
The Summit Trail is a 0.8 mile hike that leads to the top of the park's namesake, Enchanted Rock! The trail is short but steep, equivalent to climbing the stairs of a 30 or 40 story building. While the hike is very steep at times, it is not technical and does not involve scrambling over rocks.
The views get better and better as you ascend. You’ll pass beautiful vernal pools along the way and can always stop for a break if you need to catch your breath.
I recommend wearing hiking shoes to make sure you have good traction and bringing plenty of water and sunscreen (there is no shade cover). Do not hike this in the rain, as the rock will be very slippery. It typically will be closed if there is any rainfall.
After climbing to the summit twice, I can say that hiking at sunrise was a much better experience than midday! There were very few people and it wasn’t too hot. It was also gorgeous to see the view of the sunrise. It’s worth getting up early for!
The Loop Trail is a total of 4.6 miles and goes around the base of Enchanted Rock and the smaller rock next to it, Little Rock. I completed the Echo Canyon Trail in combination with the Loop Trail portion that goes around Little Rock.
The Echo Canyon Trail crosses in between the two large granite domes over a field of boulders. I found the rock scrambling here to be more difficult than hiking the Summit Trail. As you reach the end of the boulder field, you might see some rock climbers on the large rock face.
The trail then connects to the Moss Lake Trail which connects into the Loop Trail. You can take the Loop Trail in either direction. There are scenic views of Little Rock to the West and views of Enchanted Rock and Buzzard’s Roost (a popular climbing area) to the East.
For a short and easy trail, the interpretive loop is a 0.5 mile loop at the base of the rocks. It’s a great way to see plantlife, especially the beautiful bluebonnets if you visit the park in April!
Enchanted Rock has a couple of camping options; walk in campsites with water near your car and primitive hike-in campsites. There are 35 campsites with water and 20 hike-in campsites. There are also group sites available. The hike-in campsites are about a 1 mile hike from parking. Reservations can be made up to 5 months in advance, be sure to book early if you want to camp here on a weekend!
During much of the year, there is a Kona Ice Truck at the park for a post hike treat!
There are several spots available for rock climbing within Enchanted Rock. If you don’t have rock climbing experience, multiple companies offer beginner lessons as well. Texas Climbing Adventures is one such company. If you climb on your own, be sure to check the rules and regulations on the Enchanted Rock website.
The charming town of Fredericksburg is located just 20 minutes south of Enchanted Rock. This town is full of German heritage and known for its incredible wineries. Check out my blog post about the town for more information!
For a unique glamping experience, check out Blue Skies Retro Resort; It’s very close to Enchanted Rock! The resort has five colorful trailers, a beautiful pool and large private bathrooms with outdoor showers. Each trailer comes equipped with a comfortable bed, a record player and beautiful chairs to relax in outside.
The resort is also right next to the Willow City Loop, a famous scenic drive known for having many Texas Bluebonnets in April. The 13-mile road winds in front of beautiful farms, where you’ll see gorgeous wildflowers and a collection of animals. Just be sure to not to stop as the entire road borders private property.
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